Home Insurance: Basic Coverage for a Single Family Home

Many individuals set up their home insurance but never really understand their coverages. We want to provide you with some basic understanding of your Illinois homeowners insurance and some of the main coverage for a single-family homeowners policy. Please keep in mind policies have optional coverage that can be important to consider.

Dwelling this coverage is designed for the physical structure of the main building. It's calculated based on the construction values of similar homes in your area. Market value can also be used if the market value of the home is less than the reconstruction estimate. Using this option is an alternative, but comes with assuming the added risk and losing some coverage.

Separate Structures is coverage for structures built on your property that is not attached to the main building. Structures like a shed, fence, detached garage; even walkways, and driveways. Make sure the coverage amount is enough to rebuild these structures in total.

Personal Property coverage is for your “stuff” or belongings. These are items that are not permanently attached to the property. These items would typically be put in a moving truck if you moved. Items such as clothes, furniture, bikes, toys, and electronics are all examples. Some other items while they can fall under personal property may need a special endorsement added to the policy to insure them to full value. Not having an endorsement, these items may be limited to a maximum dollar amount. These items can be jewelry, fine arts, Oriental rugs, guns, and silverware are some examples. If the item has a high dollar value, the best bet is to talk with your agent to determine if a special endorsement is needed.

Personal Liability coverage is if you are liable for some type of bodily injury or property damage. This can be someone falling on your stairs, getting hurt in your pool, or being bitten by your dog. The examples can be endless, but keep in mind that not everything is covered.

There are some optional coverages such as personal injury, umbrella liability policy, cyber liability, and other liability type coverage that you should discuss with your agent.

Medical coverage is a good-faith gesture to someone you hurt and not accept fault. It's designed to avoid a lawsuit that may be covered by your liability coverage. You have a pool, trampoline, kids, or pets; we suggest maxing out this coverage.

Sewer and Drain/ Water Back-Up (optional coverage) is a good option to have if you have a finished basement or items that you don't want to get wet. Designed to provide coverage in case your sump pump fails or is unable to remove water quickly enough. Keep in mind that this coverage is not flood insurance. We recommend this coverage for people who are just moving into a home. Go through a few rainstorms and then decide if you can opt-out.

Flood Insurance (optional policy and may be required by mortgage company) can be needed as a result of heavy rains, rivers overflowing and FEMA (Federal Government) saying a flood occurred. No option to have it covered under your homeowners' insurance. You need to have a separate flood insurance policy set up and can cover the dwelling or personal property. This policy can be set up with the National Flood program or through an insurance company that has a special flood insurance program. Your home sits at a level mapped out by the government. Depending on where and what level you are at, they determine your risk of getting flooded. You live next to a river, chances are you live at a level prone to flooding. You live at the top of a hill, chances are you have very little chance of flooding. Your premium is determined by your chance of flooding.

While these are some of the main coverage and an optional policy to think about, the best way to make sure it is all covered is to talk with an agent and ask questions. If the item is important to you, ask how it's covered when setting up your policy. Never assume it's covered, simply ask. Keep in mind the agent doesn't know what you have at risk; unless you tell them before a claim occurs.