Assessing Your Homeowners Insurance Coverage

The news lately has been filled with reports of blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires, each of which has resulted in untold loss of lives, homes, and possessions.  As we watch with horror the impact these disasters have insuranceon those affected, it is only natural that we ask ourselves,” Would I be able to sustain such losses?  Would my insurance policy cover the costs of rebuilding my Chicago home?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)) recommends that you use your annual renewal notice or any improvements to your home as a reminder to touch base with your agent or insurer to recheck how much insurance you really need.  Do you have sufficient coverage for rebuilding and replacement? Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a consumer advocacy group, urges homeowners not to blindly trust that their home insurer has all the bases covered.

With fluctuations in the Chicago real estate market, coverage equal to the current replacement cost (excluding land), is advisable.  The first step in getting adequate coverage is to establish your policy’s dwelling limit. Your target number is the full-replacement cost of your home and its possessions. The dwelling limit bears no relation to your property’s market value, its appraised value, or its assessed tax value. And don’t mistake the cost of new construction for the cost to rebuild, which is more expensive because of factors such as debris removal and higher demand for materials and labor after a catastrophe,

(You can get a pretty good idea of what it would cost to rebuild your home by using an online calculator, available at sites such as ($7) and ($8).

It’s a good idea to purchase guaranteed replacement coverage, meaning the insurer will pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home with materials of like kind and quality, without deducting for wear and tear. Avoid actual cash value coverage, which pays only the depreciated value of your home.

Check also on your need for flood insurance, even if you don’t live near a body of water, since policies vary in their coverage of many types of water damage.

And lastly, it goes without saying that you need to update the inventory of your possessions at least annually since it is not only a record of the contents of your house and their value, but also a good indicator of whether you have enough coverage.


Karen Breen Elia & Louis M. Elia, REALTORS®, are brokers for homes, condos, and multi-unit properties on Chicago’s North Side.

ChicagoCityHomes, RE/MAX Exclusive Properties
2951 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago IL 60657
Toll Free: (866) 404-3585 Fax: (773) 938-1467 
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We know Chicago Real Estate!  Call us today!


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