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A Home Insurance Guide For Multigenerational Families During Covid-19

In 1940, about one-quarter of the U.S. population lived in homes with three or more generations of their family, forming what is known as a “multigenerational home.” But after World War II, the significant expansion of suburban housing developments and the concept of the “nuclear family” took hold. At that time, it became customary for children to move out of the home after reaching adulthood and for older relatives to move into assisted living communities. In fact, by 1980, just 12% of Americans lived in a household with three or more generations.

However, by 2016, that number increased to include one in five Americans stating they lived in a multigenerational household. There are two key reasons for this change. First, economic factors have played a substantial role. Many adult children with families of their own are moving back into their parents’ homes because of their difficulties accessing childcare and rising rent and mortgage costs.

Similarly, many senior parents began moving in with their children because of the skyrocketing costs of eldercare. For example, in 2019, the average cost of an assisted living community in the U.S. was $4,000 per month, with cost reaching $9,266 in some states.

Meanwhile, health risks attributed to in-home and nursing home care during the pandemic have also forced many families to move older parents back home for safety.

These changes have significant implications for home insurance. If you have multiple generations living under one roof, it may be time to reevaluate your coverage. Whether you’re forming a multigenerational home now or looking for new ways to protect your current extended family living with you, this guide will help you navigate the important steps involved in obtaining an adequate and dependable homeowners insurance policy.

What does homeowners insurance typically cover?

A standard homeowners insurance policy covers three things:

  • Structure
  • Personal liability
  • Goods and personal property

Liability coverage provides financial protection if someone who doesn’t live with you is injured on your property. For example, if someone slips and falls in your kitchen, they may incur medical costs due to bodily injury. Your insurance should help cover their medical costs, or legal expenses if they decide to sue you.

In some cases, liability coverage can even help you pay for damages you cause to someone else’s property.

Personal property protection provides financial protection for the personal property you keep in your home—including furniture, home electronics or appliances. If any of these items are stolen or damaged in a fire, you could be compensated for their loss. You can also extend your coverage to cover expensive items like jewelry.

Structural protection provides coverage for damages to your home’s structures, such as the foundation or roof. You can also cover other structures on your property. If you have a garage or shed, make sure you have them covered with homeowners insurance.

How does a multigenerational home impact your home insurance policy?

If you’re taking steps to move your senior parents or adult children into your home, you’ll need to revisit your homeowners insurance policy. New in-home assets, such as your adult child’s furniture, may require additional coverage.

It’s a good idea to inform your insurer if your senior parents or adult children are moving in too. In most cases, they’ll be covered under your policy if they are a member of your family. However, their presence may change some of the risks involved in your insurance policy.

For example, if your senior parents are living with you, they may require in-home nursing care. Because individuals outside of your family will be regularly going in and out of your home, you may wish to expand your liability coverage if they injure themselves on your property.

You also may be considering making renovations to your home to accommodate your expanding household. Keep in mind that some updates (i.e., roof replacements, security system installation, etc.) can provide discounts on your homeowners insurance policy and could reduce your rates.

How should your policy change?

In a multigenerational home, there are three changes you should consider making to your homeowners insurance policy:

  1. Increasing your liability coverage.
  2. Obtaining coverage for valuable personal items
  3. Making renovations to improve the safety of your home or to add space for additional family members.

Renovations could also help you save on your insurance premiums in the long run.

Coverage for valuable personal items

When multiple generations live under the same roof, the number of valuables in the household tends to increase. Family heirlooms, jewelry, art and expensive electronics like computers and televisions are just a few of the items you may wish to cover under your insurance policy.

Your first step should be to conduct a home inventory and gain an appraisal of all your assets. This should give you an understanding of just how much value you have contained in your household.

Next, you’ll have to choose whether to upgrade your existing policy or add on what’s known as a “floater insurance.”

Floater insurance covers property that can be easily moved, such as jewelry. However, floater insurance generally covers one specific item per policy. If you have an insurance policy specifically for a wedding ring, you could consider this floater insurance.

Your other option is to increase your liability on your existing homeowners insurance policy. This has the effect of covering anything valuable within your household without covering anything specifically.

There are pros and cons to each approach. With floater insurance, an item is covered regardless of whether it’s stored in the home or not. If you only have one or two pieces of jewelry to cover, you may wish to take out floater policies just for them.

However, if you have several valuables that you want to insure under your roof, you could simply upgrade your homeowners insurance policy. Just keep in mind that homeowners insurance generally provides limited coverage for jewelry. If you lose your wedding ring at the beach, your homeowners insurance probably won’t cover the loss.

Finally, if you have friends or family members renting space in your home, you could encourage them to get renters insurance to cover their valuables. Although they are technically covered as family members under your homeowners insurance policy, they may not have as much coverage as they’d like. Taking out a renters insurance policy would allow them to control the policy themselves and prepare an inventory of their valuables to ensure they get the right coverage.

If your family members are renting a separate property from you in which you don’t reside, your homeowners insurance policy won’t apply to them. It only covers the property where you live. If this is the case, they should certainly take out a renters insurance policy.

Coverage for personal liability

If you’re interested in increasing liability coverage, your first step should be to check what type of coverage you already have. Most homeowners insurance policies include a personal liability coverage portion. This protects you and your family if you are legally responsible for harm to someone else on your property.

If you have additional family members moving into your home, you’ll want to evaluate the potential risks associated with each with your insurer. For example, if your new houseguest is also bringing a dog with them, your risk of someone getting bitten on your property would increase. Or if more visitors or caregivers are expected to enter the home, or if you’re about to do extensive renovations and expect builders to be entering and leaving your property, you may wish to expand your coverage. You can usually raise your limit by shopping for a new plan or working directly with an insurance agent.

If you’d like, you can also purchase what’s known as a personal umbrella policy. This is the type of personal liability insurance that provides additional liability coverage beyond your existing home insurance policy.

Making renovations

If you intend to make extensive renovations to your home, you should also consider increased liability coverage. Builders and other construction workers will be on your property doing potentially dangerous work. Although construction companies may have their own insurance, an increase in your homeowners insurance liability coverage could help with legal fees if one of them gets injured on your property and decides to sue.

When insurance companies see their customers take steps to make their homes safer, they consider them a lower risk investment. Therefore, some home renovations like the following could help you save on your insurance policy:

  • Upgrading your plumbing
  • Renovating your roof
  • Upgrading your electrical wiring
  • Adding a home security system
  • Installing an emergency generator
  • Removing a wood-burning stove
  • Strengthening your foundation or home exterior

Before making these types of renovations, contact your insurer and ask an agent if specific renovations can help you save and by how much.

If your home is too small to accommodate a senior parent or adult child, you may need to add space. This can be expensive, but it may be necessary for some family members.

Before moving a senior parent into your home, consider enlisting an occupational therapist to check your house. They can tell you what changes you’ll need to make to ensure an older parent is safe and comfortable.

Some potential renovations could include:

  • Widening doors and passageways
  • Installing push-open doors
  • Adding swing-clear hinges
  • Adding ramps
  • Adding safety rails to bathrooms and showers
  • Reflooring and retiling

Some renovations may increase your liability and require new types of coverage. For example, if you’re renovating or adding a basement, it could increase your flood potential. Discuss any renovation with your insurer to determine your liability.

Additional considerations

We understand that being part of a multigenerational home has implications beyond the themes we’ve discussed here. Here are some additional considerations and resources.

Consider boundaries

It can be challenging to live with multiple generations in a single home when you’re used to a certain level of privacy. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries for anyone living in your home while making them feel comfortable.

Here are a few resources that can help you set boundaries in your multigenerational home:

Emotional concerns in the home

Living with multiple generations under one roof can also lead to emotional concerns. It can be stressful caring for both children and older parents at the same time. Furthermore, everyone in your household may have different habits, schedules and lifestyles.

Here are a few resources that can help you deal with the emotional challenges of living in a multigenerational household:

Covid-19

Although the pandemic has necessitated many families to move in together, it has also created additional challenges.

Grandparents and older relatives are at high risk for infection, so they may not be able to interact with other members of the family who must leave home for work or get supplies. According to the CDC, social distancing requires us to limit face-to-face contact with others. This can be challenging in a multigenerational home, but it isn’t impossible.

If possible, only one member of your household should go grocery shopping once each week, and they should wear protective clothing like a face mask when doing so.

If a family member grows ill, you must isolate them from the rest of the household to avoid spreading the illness. Don’t allow visitors to enter your home unless their visit is essential. Even caregivers should limit physical contact with those who are ill, and they should wear protective clothing when in their vicinity.

If possible, designate a bedroom and bathroom for the sick person’s use. Ensure everyone in the household knows that they are not to enter those areas. Don’t share dishes or other household items with anyone who is ill.

To clean your household, the CDC recommends you “clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, sinks).”

Meanwhile, in the bedroom and bathroom dedicated to someone who is ill, “Consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed (e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person.”

Here are some additional resources that can help:

Building a safety net

While homeowners have a responsibility to manage their insurance policy as it pertains to their multigenerational family, every member of the household must play their part. For example, grandparents can play a significant role in caring for children while their parents work. Meanwhile, young adults living at home can assist with household chores and finances.

Overall, your household can benefit from multigenerational living if everyone in the home feels protected and valued, and your homeowners insurance coverage plays an essential role in keeping both your family and your property protected.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at [email protected] with comments or questions.

The post A Home Insurance Guide For Multigenerational Families During Covid-19 appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage?

Roof damage is whenever the inside of your home is not protected because vulnerabilities have occurred in the roof structure. It can happen a variety of ways. These include:

  • Age
  • Rodent damage
  • Weather damage

When roof damage occurs, take the appropriate steps to fix it as soon as possible so your home and everyone inside it is protected.

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How much does a new roof cost?

Roof replacement costs can vary depending on the size of your roof and the materials used. On average, the cost to replace a roof can range from $1,700 to $8,500.

With insurance, the cost of a new roof or the repair of your roof will depend on the age of the roof and insurance policies.

Does homeowners insurance cover wind and hail damage?

Yes, but you will most likely have to pay a separate deductible — meaning that if your home suffers any damage from extreme hail, you’ll have to pay a separate hail deductible that is different from your regular deductible.

Does homeowners insurance cover leaks?

Homeowners insurance will cover a leaky roof under certain conditions, including when damage happens quickly instead of being the result of years of neglect or when the leak was caused by something that is clearly covered in your homeowners insurance policy.

The hardest part will likely be proving that the damage was done quickly and was not the result of neglect or ignorance. This will be especially difficult if you don’t notice the leak until it makes its way into your living quarters.

Homeowners that live in colder climates often have to deal with this scenario. Having ice and snow on their roofs for a significant part of the winter, these homeowners have roofs with strain and weight on them throughout the year. When the roof begins to cave, it’s not obvious because the gap is covered up by months’ worth of built up ice and snow. Only once spring rolls around is the damage in full view (both inside and out).

Does homeowners insurance cover older roofs?

The age of your roof and insurance determine whether your roof is covered. Many insurance providers only pay you what your roof is worth if it’s over 20 years. Some require an inspection, and it’s possible that if the roof doesn’t pass your application will be denied.

Limits to roof coverage

Roof insurance does come with a few limitations. They are:

  • Squirrel damage: Gradual squirrel damage to your roof is not covered. Though the damage they do can cost a lot of money to fix, homeowners insurance doesn’t protect you against squirrels from moving into your home.
  • Hurricane damage: Hurricane damage is often covered, but flood water often is not, so you may need to get separate flood insurance. Furthermore, if you live in a coastal area, you’ll likely have to pay an additional deductible for any hurricane coverage.
  • Ice damage: Typically homeowners insurance does cover ice dam damage, but if water leaks inside the home, any personal property damaged won’t be covered.

How to file a roof damage insurance claim

    Filing a roof-related insurance claim will be familiar if you’ve ever had to file another type of claim. Here is how you do it:

    1. If a storm has damaged your roof, take pictures of any damage you find. This evidence will be invaluable when submitting your claim.
    2. Don’t wait for your insurance provider to state whether it will cover any repairs you need. Contact a contractor to have the repairs taken care of as soon as possible. Any damage done by a storm can leave your roof susceptible to further damage.
    3. Call your insurance provider quickly to submit a claim. Depending on your provider, you probably have about a month before it’s too late; however, there’s no reason to wait. Contact them as soon as possible to see if they will cover any damages. If they will, file a claim with your agent. You will most likely be able to do this either over the phone or through your insurance provider’s website.
    4. Arrange for your insurance provider to send a claim inspector out to your home to do a visual inspection of any damage to your property.

    If you can, routinely take pictures of your roof so that you can have a basis for before and after photos. At the very least, do it before a big storm is expected in your area.

    How to prevent roof damage

    Some roof damage is hard to prevent, but you can take steps to keep your roof in good condition.

    • Install impact resistant shingles: Solid roofing materials will go a long way when it comes to preventing roof damage over the years. Impact-resistant shingles will protect your roof against hail and will look cosmetically better over the years too.
    • Clean your gutters throughout the year: A debris clog can prevent water from draining from the roof. This will also cause an unnecessary weight burden on the overall roof structure as a whole. If you’re uncomfortable cleaning your gutters, always hire a professional to clean your gutters for you.
    • Inspect roof flashing: Inspecting your flashing about once every three years is a great way to prevent roof damage. If the flashing wasn’t installed correctly, it’s easy for water to leak into your home and cause damage from top to bottom. That said, the flashing will likely peel away from your roof over the years naturally as weather wears away the caulking. It’s an easy fix, however, and usually only requires a reapplication of weather-resistant caulk.
    • Trim overhanging branches: The less danger your roof is in of anything falling on it, the better. If you can’t easily do it yourself, hire a professional tree pruning service.
    • Cut down nearby trees: Have a tree removal company cut down any trees you think pose a risk to the safety of your home.
    • Rake off snow. Using a roof rake, rake off any excessive snow during the winter. The added weight can place too much strain on the roof system.
    • Add additional insulation to the attic. Extra insulation can protect you from ice dams. Should too much heat escape to the attic from the main house, it can melt the ice on the roof, which will then refreeze as temperatures drop. This in turn can cause an ice dam to occur that could cause water to back up into your home.
    • Replace missing shingles. If you lose a shingle during heavy winds, you need to replace it. The loss of even one shingle can cause a domino effect on your roof system as whole, causing problems like from wood rot or the loss of more shingles. If you’re uncomfortable getting on your roof, contact a professional.
    • Learn the signs of damage: If you notice problems like water damage, it may be a sign of roof issues. Be able to identify problems and fix them quickly.

    Bottom line

    Taking care of your roof requires constant vigilance. It shouldn’t be something you only think about when things turn sour. However, even if you stay on top of it, you still need a standout insurance provider.

    The post Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Roof Damage? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

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What is a homeowners insurance deductible

When disaster strikes, the cost of your damages and losses can be exorbitant. This is why it is so important for homeowners to protect themselves and their belongings with homeowners insurance.

The amount of money you have to pay to cover repairing and replacing your items when you file a claim depends on your deductible. It is always important to consider the insurance deductible before committing to a new insurance plan.

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What is a deductible?

An important part of your homeowners insurance policy is your deductible. This applies not just to homeowners insurance but also renters insurance, car insurance and life insurance.

A homeowners deductible is the amount that you are required to pay before your insurance coverage kicks in to pay for qualified losses. Unless your plan specifies otherwise, a deductible is not usually reimbursed; it’s a minimum amount you pay toward the total damages. Once you pay your deductible, you can file a claim with the insurance company to pay the rest.

For example, if you have a $5,000 deductible and the total damages for your home are $20,000, you would pay $500, and your insurance claim would pay the remaining $15,000.

Types of homeowners insurance deductibles

Insurance companies can offer different kinds of deductibles, but they most commonly present them as either a dollar-amount deductible or a percentage-based deductible. A dollar-amount deductible is the most common because it provides one set figure that you will have to pay.

A percentage-based deductible requires you to pay a percentage of the total damages. For example, if you have a 10% deductible and the total losses are $10,000, you will have to pay $1,000 before your insurance company will help with the rest.

There may be times when a percentage-based deductible is best. Depending on the total cost of the damage, it’s possible that a percentage of the damages is cheaper than the total cost of the project. If the total damages are $5,000 and you have a 2% deductible, you would only have to pay $100 instead of the average $500 or $1,000 flat-rate deductibles.

What are disaster deductibles?

Not every type of disaster is covered by your homeowners insurance policy. The disaster deductible does not include what is normally covered under your insurance; it is a separate form of coverage that is designed to cover what your insurance does not.

Disaster loss applies to damages that occur within an area that has been formally declared as a federal disaster area by the president. This is often the result of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods.

These deductibles are similar to casualty loss in that they are also tax-deductible. However, disaster deductibles offer more options for filing and claiming your tax refund.

Disaster deductibles also apply to commercial property owners and renters.

How to choose which deductible is right for you

While it may not seem like a big deal when you are purchasing your insurance, the kind of deductible you choose can make an enormous difference in how much you have to pay in an emergency. If you aren’t careful, your insurance deductible can end up costing you more than your losses.

The kind of home you own will determine how much coverage you need. More expensive homes or people with more expensive items will need more coverage to fully replace or repair damages.

It’s also important to inventory your belongings and calculate the estimated value. You can use this figure when creating your homeowners insurance policy to ensure you purchase enough coverage for your things.

Once you determine how much coverage you need, you can determine what kind of deductible is most appropriate for you.

How deductibles affect your premium

When you buy an insurance plan, there are different deductibles that are offered with each plan. The lower your deductible, the higher your monthly premium will be. Standard deductibles are generally between $500 and $2000.

If you have filed claims in the past, this can also affect the cost of your coverage and what options you are given for your deductible. Even if an accident was not your fault, insurance companies will use your insurance claim history to assess whether you are a high-risk candidate for homeowners insurance. You might have to choose a higher deductible to afford coverage.

For some homeowners, insurance is only an option if it comes with a low monthly premium. Tight finances and a strict monthly budget can reduce your options and make affordability your top priority for coverage.

Either way, it’s crucial that you choose a deductible that you will be able to afford. If a fire sweeps through your home and leaves you without a thing in the world, the last thing you want to worry about is paying a $5,000 deductible.

Disasters aren’t common, but they do happen. That’s why it’s important to make sure you and your home are protected with the best homeowners insurance coverage for your home.

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