What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

You can generally expect your homeowners insurance to help pay for additional living expenses for up to 12-24 months while your home is being repaired. But, homeowners insurance usually pays only after they verify you have a legitimate claim. After Katrina, many insurers made an exception, automatically distributing enough to cover two weeks’ worth of additional living expense to anyone in an area subject to mandatory evacuation. Some companies even gave small advances on contents under the personal property part of their homeowners insurance policies.

If you have to wait to get your check, it helps to have cash that is easily accessible in a bank account or money market fund. Stashing cash at home isn’t a great idea because if your home burns down and you weren’t able to get to your cash, most homeowners insurance policies only cover $100-$200 in cash whether it is stolen or burned up in a fire. Your goal should be to have an emergency fund available to take care of your family for 2-4 weeks (minimum)if possible. In a disaster it might be hard to even find a local bank to get cash. Debit/credit cards with a statewide or national bank would perhaps be better.

Your biggest problem in getting your claim handled may be in either not having the proper homeowners insurance coverage or not having enough coverage. Most good homeowners insurance policies today cover up to 120% of your dwelling coverage limit. It is important that you review the dwelling limit with your agent every couple of year’s at a minimum. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover Flooding, but you should again see your agent for this coverage.

If your homeowners insurance falls short, you may qualify for money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or a disaster-assistance loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 for rebuilding and $40,000 to replace personal property at very low interest rates for up to 30 years.

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