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Many homeowners have questions about their homeowners insurance policies. This FAQ can help answer some of those frequently asked questions.
What is an HO3 policy?
An HO3 insurance policy is the most commonly written type of homeowners insurance policy. It covers anything that happens to your home except things which are specifically excluded – meaning they are written down in a list in your policy as not covered. An HO3 policy will generally cover any and all damage to your home with the exception of flooding (which is generally covered separately in the State of Florida by policies issued through the National Flood Insurance Program), damage done to vacant properties by vandals or unattended pipes, damage caused by neglect, damage caused by earthquake, nuclear disaster, or terrorism, etc. Reading your HO3 policy thoroughly and understanding the exclusions is an important part of purchasing a homeowners insurance policy. Ask your Olympus Insurance agent to help you determine if you need more coverage than an HO3 policy provides.
Am I required to carry homeowners insurance?
The State of Florida does not require that you carry homeowners insurance. However, if you carry a mortgage on your home, your financial institution will almost certainly require that you carry insurance to protect their interests. If you own your home free and clear, you may opt to carry homeowners insurance to help protect your investment. If you buy into a condominium or townhouse, the board may require you carry part or all of the insurance responsibility. If you own an investment home that you rent out, you may need to carry renters insurance. Ask your agent which type of policy is appropriate for your needs.
What factors can affect my homeowners insurance premiums?
Homeowners insurance premiums may be affected by the age of your home, roof and its construction, or by its location and proximity to dangers (such as flood zones) and emergency services (such as the fire department). Protective devices like burglar alarms, upgraded door and window locks, smoke and CO2 detection systems, or fire extinguishers and sprinkler fire suppression systems may help lower your premium, as can impact resistant glass or hurricane shutters. If you have a pool, the type of security in place around it may also affect your premiums. Ask your agent if you think any of the above may apply.
What is a home inventory?
A home inventory is a list of all valuables in your home. A good home inventory will also include photographs of each item, including any model or serial numbers, and receipts showing when and where each item was purchased as well as the price paid, along with any recent appraisals of high ticket items. Having a home inventory can help your insurance company reimburse you correctly after a home disaster or robbery. Ask your agent if they have suggestion about items you may wish to list.
Do I need extra insurance for my jewelry / fur / gun / baseball card collection?
Your homeowners insurance may have a caps on coverage limits that can vary based on your individual needs. If the limit is not sufficient to cover luxury items or valuable collections you own, you can purchase a separate policy that provides scheduled or enhanced coverage. This policy will help cover specific items of value in your home in case of theft or other loss. Ask your agent if you are unsure about an item’s value and whether or not it is covered.
Does my homeowners insurance policy cover my pool or outbuildings?
Policy language can be exceedingly specific and vary from carrier to carrier. At Olympus we cover damage to your home, pool, and any structures on your property such as pool screens, docks, or fences if damaged by a covered peril, but other carriers may offer different coverage options or exclude the coverage completely. Ask your agent if you are unsure about what is covered under your policy.
What do the different sections of my homeowners policy cover?
Section I of your homeowners insurance policy covers damage to your property. Section II provides personal liability coverage in case someone is injured on the property.
What is the difference between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost”?
An actual cash value reimbursement is equal to the current value of the item or structure, which depreciates over time. Replacement cost will cover whatever is necessary to replace the item or structure lost. Ask your agent about your specific policy and what it covers.
What is my deductible?
Your deductible is the dollar amount or percentage you will be responsible for in case of a claim. Your deductible will vary depending on your policy and any additional riders. Your hurricane deductible, which applies only to damage caused by named storms, may be a different amount than your “all other perils” (AOP) deductible, which covers damage done by other causes, such as burglary, fire, vandalism, water damage, or windstorms that are not part of a named storm. You may be able to secure a lower annual premium by raising your deductible, or a lower deductible by raising your annual premium.
My roof was damaged in a storm. A roofer who was looking at my neighbors’ houses came over and offered to fix it. What should I do?
Call Olympus first, no matter what kind of damage your home has sustained. We can help make sure you get the service you need from a reputable contractor. If anyone offers to eliminate your deductible, or asks you to sign anything – especially an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) form – politely decline and call Olympus to avoid fraud and help protect yourself. Ask your agent for more information about the correct claims process.
There is water damage due to a leak I just discovered. My friend said it won’t be covered because it’s been going on for over a month. What do I do?
Olympus doesn’t automatically exclude water damage due to a leak that has been occurring over two weeks or longer. Call Olympus first, and we can help you determine if your water damage is covered.
A tree from my neighbor’s yard fell on my house. What do I do?
Call Olympus first. We can work with you to get your claim settled quickly and your home restored. You won’t have to negotiate with your neighbor or their insurance company; we’ll take care of the details.
My new washing machine was either defective or installed improperly, causing water damage. What do I do?
Even if the damage to your home was the fault of a manufacturer or technician, call Olympus first. We can help you quickly restore your life to normal, and if necessary we can recover the costs of paying your claim later through subrogation of the responsible party.