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6 Essential Home Insurance Tips for Homeowners

Arranging adequate home insurance is vital for every homeowner, but it can be a complicated area of finance to navigate. With so many policies available from so many insurers, how can you find your way through the maze?

To help you get the right policy with the right coverage, here are six essential basics you need to know.

1) Be Clear on What's Covered

Most policies cover your home's structure and your possessions for any damage caused by natural events such as storms, accidents like fire, or criminal activity such as theft or vandalism. Some policies extend this coverage to possessions which you may carry around with you, such as smart devices, watches, and so on, but often you'll need to declare the value of these items individually or set an overall upper limit.

You should also declare any jewelry, collectibles, or other valuables, as most policies set an upper limit on coverage unless items are specifically named.

Lastly, your home insurance policy may also include liability coverage, protecting you against legal claims if someone is injured while on your property, for example.

2) Know What's Excluded

It's normal for policies to exclude damage caused through war, earthquake, government action, and other events which can't be reasonably predicted. Increasingly, damage caused by flooding is also excluded, so be sure to check the small print if you live in an area at risk.

Less dramatically, most policies will also reject damage claims if they're as a result of neglect, poor workmanship, or recklessness.

3) It's Important to Shop Around

The insurance market is huge, and there's no one-size-fits-all policy for everyone. Shopping around is essential, not only to find the best price, but also to get the most suitable coverage from a company who provides good service.

There are plenty of comparison sites you can use to get an idea of what you should pay, but also check good and bad reviews of the different insurers rather than going purely by price. You may also find an independent insurance or financial adviser can help here, especially as part of a comprehensive financial planning package.

4) You Can Reduce the Costs

And when you're shopping around, don't forget that you can often reduce the headline price you're quoted. Installing extras to your home such as a smoke alarm or security system can knock a surprising amount off your premiums.

Also, you may be able to save money by bundling your home insurance with other policies, for example your car insurance. But if you do this, make sure each individual policy is up to scratch, as bundling poor policies just to save money can easily be a false economy.

5) Always Claim ASAP

If you need to make a claim, do it right away, even before you know exactly how much you need to claim for. Setting the process in motion will ensure your claim doesn't time out, and you can always supply the final details later.

This is especially important for cases of water damage, where the damage could worsen if it's not repaired quickly. If the insurance company think you've held back unnecessarily, they may deny some or all of your claim.

6) Make Notes of Everything

Lastly, keep detailed records of all your expensive possessions, from TVs to jewelry. Keep hold of your purchase receipts, any repair or service records, and so on. This will help a lot if you ever need to make a claim, as you'll have the documentation you need to back you up.

Also, once you make a claim, keep a record of what you've claimed for, when you lodged the claim, and who you spoke to during every contact with the insurer. For a complicated claim, relying on memory will slow things down and may leave you out of pocket.

Home insurance is a sensible necessity, but it's important to get the right policy. Follow these six essential tips and you'll have a head start in ensuring your insurance works for you.

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