Homeowners usually think about the insurance on their home twice — when they buy it and when they need to file a claim. The first is often hurried; a policy is needed to complete the mortgage package or equity loan, and the driving concern may be cost and speed more than depth and type of coverage. The second is the day after the fire, hailstorm, or other natural disaster. Unfortunately, that hastily purchased cheap policy may not be the bargain it seemed. The time to learn about the breadth and depth of coverage is at the time of purchase, before the loss.
There are two primary types of homeowner’s insurance: replacement cost or actual cash value. In a replacement-cost policy, the structure is insured for the cost of repairing the damage or building a comparable replacement, regardless of its age. If mandated by the local authorities, the repairs and construction will have to incorporate any upgrades required by the building codes in force at the time of the rebuild.
A key provision is that in a replacement-cost policy, there is no reduction in the payout because of depreciation. A 10-year-old roof is paid out the same as a nearly-new roof. For example, a 15-year-old roof is destroyed in a hailstorm. The roof has multiple layers of shingles, and the sheeting is deteriorated. New building codes require a full tear-off, including new sheeting and rafter repair. A replacement-cost policy will cover the supplemental work, even though the rafter damage isn’t a direct result of the storm.
As the name implies, an actual-cash-value, or ACV, policy pays out the fair market value of the damaged portion of the home at that time of the loss, minus depreciation. For example, a 15-year-old roof destroyed in a hailstorm may only be valued at $2,000 to $3,000. After the typical $1,000 deductible, the homeowner may only receive a single lump-sum payment of $1,000 to $2,000 to apply to the cost of repair or replacement of the roof.
Another consideration is the insurance coverage on the contents of the home. This comes into play after a major loss such as a fire or tornado. Replacement-cost policies pay for a comparable item, without regard to the age or condition of the original.
Some policies may be hybrids, with replacement cost on portions of the house, but ACV on other parts, such as the roof or windows. Contents are often rated at ACV. This is done for many reasons and there is nothing wrong or unprofessional about it. However, the policy owner needs to understand each part of the coverage — what is included and what is excluded.
The difference between replacement cost and actual-cash-value policies is significant, and homeowners need to make an informed choice. The primary reason to choose ACV is cost. The premiums for an ACV policy are significantly less than a full replacement policy. For many homeowners, ACV may be all they think they can afford. However, after a major loss, that cheap policy may not even pay back the premiums paid over many years.
Homeowners shouldn’t wait for a disaster to take a second look at their insurance. A licensed agent can go over the existing coverage and explain not only what potential payouts might be, but also ways to economically upgrade.
Feel free to call 615-209-9362 for an appointment today, and an AmeriAgency agent will answer any questions you have about homeowner’s insurance. Yes, we still have replacement value policies for roofs.