5 Reasons To Check Your New Home Insurance Policy Immediately After Moving


Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, living anywhere near the Gulf of Mexico means you need to prepare ahead for storm season. 

That doesn’t just mean getting a generator and stocking up on food essentials. 

If you’re into going above and beyond (kind of like us!), you’ll want to do the smart thing and check on your home insurance policy so you’re not left high and wet dry!

We sat down with Ken Robinson of MAKZ Insurance to get the scoop on why it’s so important to examine your insurance policy as soon as possible. 

So why do you really need to check out the details of your home or renters policy right away?

According to Ken, here’s exactly what you should know (and do) about your renters and homeowners insurance policies before the official start of hurricane season!

Table of Contents

#1: Insurance Carriers Prepare Early for Storm Season—Even if You Don’t

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico where the great state of Texas extends) *officially* lasts from June 1 to November 30 each year. 

But, as anyone living in Texas, Florida, or Louisiana knows, a tropical storm can strike at any time. 

In fact, the first hurricanes of 2020 actually began in May:

A survey by the American Psychiatric Association found that Americans are the most anxious about finances, safety, and health. Moving can trigger anxiety because it impacts your finances and safety.

If you think insurance companies don’t track weather reports, think again.

So instead of waiting until the eleventh hour of a storm forecast, there are quite a few reasons you shouldn’t wait to do an insurance check-up. More obvious factors include protecting your major investments (like your house, rental property, and your personal items.)

The less obvious reason? 

Cutoff dates are set by all insurance carriers in the face of named storms. 

Yes, this varies by the insurer, but if you don’t prepare early, you could end up waiting too late to get or update your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

#2: You Can’t Get ‌Homeowners‌ or Renters ‌Insurance‌ During‌ ‌Hurricane‌ ‌Season

Let’s clear something up:

While Ken verifies that you can get homeowners or renters insurance at any time—remember, official hurricane season starts June 1—there is a catch when it comes to impending storm warnings…

“You cannot get insurance when a named storm is so many miles away from the coast,” he says. 

“So for instance, if you’re in the Houston or Galveston area, and a named storm is like, 100 miles off the coast… Most carriers shut down binding authority, which means that you can’t buy a policy at that time.”  

Why the heck does this even happen?

Insurance carriers operate off of their financial reserves to pay out claims, based on the number of clients. 

The companies could literally go bankrupt if they accommodated everyone who scrambles to get home or renters insurance due to a storm forecast. 

Then, they’d have to pay out MASSIVE amounts of claims all at once, based on the hundreds of thousands of new clients…

We’re talking in the millions to billions of dollars worth of damage that storms often cause.

Imagine how quickly the industry would collapse if they accepted new clients every time a storm was miles away from the coast of a major city! 

To protect their reserves, carriers set a cut-off date for purchasing last-minute policies.  That’s why it’s critical to buy, change, or adjust your renters or home insurance policy before storm season even starts. 

—Ken Robinson, MAKZ Insurance Tweet

“Don’t wait until it’s too late,” Ken warns, “because if you wait until the storm is 100 miles off the coast, it’s too late. Every carrier has their [own rules] and threshold of what they feel is their breaking point.” 

That goes for all types of property policies: homeowners insurance, renters insuranceflood insurance, and even auto insurance!”

#3: Storm Damage Isn’t Necessarily Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance

You should definitely check out what your deductible says on your declaration page specifically regarding storm damage. 

Perhaps you assume that coverage is automatically included, but that depends on a few things.

Some insurance carriers combine wind, hail, and named storms under one deductible, while others have three separate deductibles for each. 

All storms are typically covered by your policy unless you or your carrier exclude the coverage for some reason… Such as, where you live:

“There are parts of Galveston, and down the coast where you may have to get a separate wind policy because you’re too close to the coast,” Ken says, “But, for the most part, all homeowner’s policies cover wind damage, fire, and most storms.”

#4: Flooding Is Super Common During Storms, but Isn’t Covered by Your Renters or Homeowner Policy

One thing our team and Ken have noticed in plenty of discussions with new homeowners or people moving into storage, is the confusion over flood coverage. 

And, since it floods so easily in the Gulf Coast, Ken wants to end the confusion once and for all.

Flood coverage is an entirely separate policy, which means you have to add it to your current coverage. 

Don’t assume that just because you have homeowners or renters insurance that you also have flood insurance. Make sure you check with your insurance carrier to verify.

#5: Your Policy’s Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value Coverage Can Be Very Different

Your policy’s replacement cost vs. actual cash value (ACV) can be very different.

Typically, under a basic renters or homeowners policy, your personal property is covered at ACV instead of replacement value. 

You can increase or upgrade this with your carrier, though.

Here’s the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost when it comes to covering your damages:

This is the amount your item is worth, including depreciation over time. Whatever amount is not covered, you’ll have to make up the difference yourself.

This is the amount your insurance carrier will pay to replace your item at its brand-new & current cost

To decide between keeping ACV or upgrading to replacement cost, Ken suggests that you:

  1. Get an appraisal if you’ve been in a home for a while (say, 10-15 years), or have had major repairs/renovations done. 
  2. Take inventory of what you own. Using a receipt-tracking app or folder in your email is a great way to document when and how much you paid for each item. This way, you can decide which insurance option is best.
  3. Adjust your replacement cost/ACV policy limits through your insurer so you have solid coverage in case of a hurricane.
  4. Even renters may need to adjust their policy limits, especially if you own high-value items. You can also get a special endorsement for pieces like jewelry. The good news is you only really need to worry about your personal belongings

Replacement cost vs. actual cash value can be a little more complicated than what’s presented here.

See more in-depth info in our previous post about the differences between replacement cost and ACV to help you determine how much you need (of either option) to protect your new home:

Wrapping Up

There’s nothing better than knowing your personal property is safe (or that you’ll at least be reimbursed if it’s damaged)… especially as we face increasingly stronger, more frequent storms here in Texas.

Now that you know to start early, ensure you have the best renters or homeowners policy coverage for your needs before storm season! Get in touch with your agent to protect your home or personal belongings right away. 

You can also contact Ken Robinson at MAKZinsurance.com for assistance with any confusing insurance details.

Remember, if you’re already moving out or need storage due to storm damage, we’re always here to help you, too!

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Why You Need Renter’s Insurance In Texas Before Moving


Not sure why you need renter’s insurance before you move?

To put it plainly: you’ll need a renter’s policy to cover anything you can’t immediately replace.

In fact, if you’re renting an apartment, condo, or house, there are very few scenarios where it’s just a waste of money. 

While not required by state law, renter’s insurance may be required in your tenant agreement.

But, is renter’s insurance a good value for consumers?

Besides taking care of everything most people expect their landlord to do, renter’s insurance can majorly cover your tail in various scenarios.

Yep, even if you’re facing a lawsuit!

(Of course, we hope a situation never goes that far.) 

But, in the interest of helping you settle into your new place as smoothly as possible after you move, we’re shouting from the rooftops just how important it is to have renter’s insurance. 

Ken Robinson, our go-to property insurance expert and CEO of Houston-based MAKZ Insurance Company, explains why renter’s insurance is a must when you move.

 

1. Renter’s Coverage Can Pay For Itself 40 Times Over

A bit overwhelmed by all the industry vocabulary around renter’s insurance? 

Let’s break down three commonly confusing terms in an easier way:

  • Premium- What you pay for renter’s insurance; often referred to in annual terms
  • Deductible- What you pay before your policy coverage kicks in
  • Liability- The amount of personal protection covering you, up to which an insurer will pay if you’re held liable for damage or injury by someone else; can include legal fees, repairs/damages, medical bills, etc.

Renter’s insurance is not expensive. It’s very affordable, despite what you may think.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Renter’s policy premiums have been falling since 2015 
  • You don’t even have to nix your Starbucks habit to afford a $15-$50 monthly premium that covers $10,000-$40,000 of personal property
  • Average renter’s insurance premiums in Texas are $232/ year (or $19/ month) as of 2017, (III.org) 
  • Discounts may be available based on your age, job, or residential amenities (e.g. security systems, fire extinguishers, deadbolts, or sprinklers)
  • Ken advises combining a renter’s policy with your auto insurance for a multi-policy discount 

By these numbers alone, it’s obvious why you need renter’s insurance if you’re moving into a new rental property: 

At bare-bones minimum (or, $19 per month for $10,000 in coverage) renter’s insurance can pay for itself 40 times over if you have to file a claim in Texas.

Sure, you’ll have to cough up $250 to $1,500 in your own cash for a deductible. 

So what?

That’s nothing if you don’t have renter’s insurance and a fire destroys $30,000 worth of everything you own.  Or, if someone sues you for $20,000 in medical bills and loss of income after injuring themselves in your apartment.

See how it can be helpful in a pinch?

This brings us to our next point…

2. It Can Help If You’re Held Liable (or Sued)

“How insurance really works is, what started or what created the risk to happen,” Ken explains.

“So, I always use the scenario of, if a tree fell over and fell on top of your neighbor’s home, the question is going to be asked, ‘What caused the tree to fall?’ So is it [the] wind that caused the tree to fall? I say that because, in the event of the fish tank scenario, you’re liable because you bumped into it and it leaked to your neighbor’s [home].”

No one expects bad things to happen, but they do.

That’s a part of life. But, in the insurance world, you might have liability for what happens.

Whether it’s by negligence or an accident on your part, you can still be held liable for the fallout of certain circumstances. (Yes, even if you’re only renting a place and don’t own it).

A landlord, visitor, or neighbor who suffers damages or injury by any action or negligence of your own can force you to pay or file a lawsuit

No one wants to deal with legal fees or owe someone money.

That’s where a rental policy can save the day. Renter’s insurance is an absolute must in times like this since basic policies cover a minimum of $100,000 in liability

Even incidents that aren’t intentional or malicious can potentially lead to huge problems for you legally and financially.

Renter’s insurance helps financially protect you against liabilities like:

  • If your kid throws a ball and breaks a neighbor’s window
  • You accidentally break your aquarium, and it leaks to the unit below, ruining your neighbor’s mattress
  • Someone trips on your rug and twists their ankle, needing medical care
  • Your dog bites another resident and they sue 
  • A visiting relative leaves a candle or cigarette unattended, causing fire damage
  • Pests like bed bugs, mice, or roaches, hitch a ride to your new residence, infesting your new rental property

There are exceptions, however.

Renter’s insurance liability extends only to third parties. 

If you or someone living in your rental residence is hurt, related medical expenses won’t be covered.

Renter’s policies don’t cover structural damage. (Since you don’t own the house or apartment structure and therefore you’re not considered responsible for it.)

Violating the terms of your policy can lead to insurers dropping your coverage. It could also leave you paying 100% of related damages out-of-pocket.

For example, many renter’s insurance policies explicitly deny coverage to so-called ‘dangerous dog breeds’ (such as pit bulls, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, and more).

So if you do decide to take in such a pup who ends up biting someone, your policy won’t cover it.

All the related medical and/or legal bills would be your responsibility. 

Read and stick to the terms of your renter’s insurance policy, and you won’t have to worry.

3. Renter’s Insurance Protects Your Personal Belongings

One of the biggest reasons why you need rental insurance? 

It covers your personal belongings. 

“A renter’s [policy] is definitely worth it,” says Ken.

“If you have a television in your home that you spent $5,000…or even if you spent $200 on it, you purchased it. So in the event that something happens to it, someone steals it, you get smoke damage in the home…you want to make sure your stuff is covered. If you don’t have renter’s insurance, you’re pretty much starting over.”

Think about everything you currently own—no matter when you bought it. How much does every single item you have cost? 

Estimate. Add it up mentally. And it’s not just monetary value… 

Consider how many years it took you to gain it all.

Could you afford to spend time and money replacing every single thing you love if it were instantly destroyed? 

Personal property coverage is in your renter’s policy. Not only will it cover theft from where you live, but it can also cover theft from your car during traveling!

Pets aren’t included. Your more expensive items—like jewelry, collections, electronics, antiques, artwork, or instruments—most likely need additional coverage (a.k.a, endorsements, floaters, or riders.) 

If you have anything of monetary or sentimental value, ask your insurer about getting added coverage.  

Your personal property will be covered under renter’s insurance as long as you:

  • Keep your policy up-to-date. Coverage can lapse without warning if you cancel a payment method. Also, revisit your policy as you acquire more items, grow your family, or adopt pets
  • Update & take inventory of your stuff. It makes filing a claim and moving much easier. (Use photos, video, receipts, documents, serial numbers, and more to prove how much your stuff is worth)
  • Read your policy limits. This is how much insurers will pay for certain types of property damage (e.g. how much the company will pay for cash, jewelry, business items, appliances, etc.)
  • Know if your policy uses Actual Cash Value (ACV) or replacement cost. Basic renter’s policies default to ACV, which deducts value from items based on age and use. You can add on replacement cost for about 10% more, but it reimburses you with a new item at full & current value
  • Get a flood add-on or comprehensive insurance—especially if you rent a home in Texas or are on a first-floor unit. Flood and storm damage to your things are not covered under renter’s policies

4. Renter’s Insurance Can Help You Move Out

Renter’s policies cover expenses incurred by loss of use.

Loss of use coverage is what insurance companies will pay for costs that exceed your normal living expenses until you move back in or find a new place.

Let’s say your residence becomes uninhabitable from a covered event. 

While your landlord’s policy covers their content and structural property damage, it doesn’t cover you or your personal items at all. 

Additionally, landlords are not required to help you move out temporarily, and landlord policies don’t extend to cover tenants. 

Many tenants are shocked to find out that landlords are not legally required to cover their hotel costs if a property is unlivable. 

That’s where renter’s insurance can help you move out.

Your destroyed items or additional living expenses you incur from loss of use (i.e. moving out of a damaged residence and paying for hotels, movers, food, etc.)—are all covered.

You could even move somewhere new if you prefer. Especially if you have to break your lease because the damage is so bad that you can’t return.

5. It Could Be Required in Your Rental Agreement

If you’re still on the fence about renter’s insurance, be aware that landlords are wising up and starting to add clauses to their tenant agreements that hold renters accountable. 

These clauses also help landlords protect themselves from sky-high repair costs, legal fees, and loss of rental income.

So, do you really need renter’s insurance? Is renter’s insurance even required in Texas?

Lots of newer tenant agreements are making renter’s policies mandatory in Texas.

In some states, this clause is mandatory. Although it isn’t required by the state of Texas, Ken says most tenants should still get need renter’s insurance in Texas. A growing number of leasing or rental agreements are even making it mandatory.

Sometimes, there are even policy limit requirements for tenants in these agreements. 

You could be held personally liable and have to pay out-of-pocket if you let your renter’s insurance lapse, don’t meet the minimums in your tenant agreement, or don’t have it at all.

Wrapping Up

We get it, you’re really excited about your big move (and that’s awesome!) 

Why not protect the investment you put into moving your personal belongings by getting renter’s insurance, too?

You never know what could happen. Now that you realize why renter’s insurance is worth it, don’t just get a random policy, and call it a day. 

Take inventory of everything you own.

Document and keep receipts of the new things you buy.

Find out how much your already-owned items are currently worth so you don’t get sticker shock if they must be replaced at your policy’s ACV (Actual Cash Value). 

Most importantly, arm yourself with a policy that you’ve actually read

Know your policy terms well. If anything ever happens, you’ll understand why you need renters insurance coverage to help.