When it comes to insuring your house, too much or too little coverage can leave you in a costly bind. Marshall & Swift/Boeckh found that two-thirds of Americans underinsure their homes and 50 percent of American homeowners have muddled understandings of their coverage levels. These two concepts go hand-in-hand; if you don’t have a clear understanding of the type of coverage your home needs, you will often end up underinsuring your home, leaving you at risk.

To make sure you have the best coverage for your home, area and budget, you should do ample research beforehand and piece together what best suits your needs.

Research insurance companies

The first and most important step is to find a reputable homeowners insurance company. Using companies like Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau will ensure you are working with a company with your best interests at heart. And because you may be working closely with your insurer in the future, having a good relationship is important to maximizing your claims and protection, while minimizing your headache.

Also make sure your company has experience handling the type of risks you will face in your city. You don’t want to be faced with confusion when trying to file a hurricane or flood claim—your insurance carrier should already know exactly what to do to ease your pain.

Research your area

There are a few things to look for in your area when deciding on optional coverage levels: flood zones, typical local weather patterns, and crime rates. In 2017, FEMA remapped and vastly expanded its flood map, causing many homeowners to rush to buy flood insurance. If you choose not to buy flood insurance and your home falls in a flood zone, the government can foreclose your home. Depending on your homes location within the flood zone and its construction, flood insurance premiums can vary drastically. When finding you coverage, focus on protecting your belongings, meeting government regulations, and fitting into your budget.

Make sure to check local crime rates for your area when purchasing insurance as well. According to a study, Broward County’s top three crimes include larceny, assault, and burglary—meaning your insurance should cover you in case of these common crimes. Use CrimeReports to check your location for safety and adjust your coverage accordingly.

Other insurance to consider include parametric insurance, hurricane insurance, and private insurance for expensive collectibles (jewelry, antique, and firearms). These levels can vary based on what you own and what you want protected; take complete inventory of your home to figure out what you can and can’t live without. Getting those items protected will safeguard your personal belongings and happiness in the long run.

Don’t settle

Lastly, don’t settle for the most basic insurance, or the most expensive insurance, just because your agent tells you to. Insurance coverage is not one-size-fits-all; each home and homeowner has different needs that should be addressed by their carrier. You should work with a insurance carrier dedicated to making your coverage as unique as your home is.

By working with a local agent, you can be sure that your coverage is not only tailored to your needs, it’s tailored to your location as well. We shop multiple companies to find you the best rate and the best coverage, because we know what risks our clients face. For a free quote on your unique homeowner’s insurance rates, contact us today.