HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE FOR SENIORS
Your home is probably your biggest investment, so you want to make sure it is protected. Typical homeowners insurance covers losses or damage to your house and its contents caused by fire, weather, vandalism and theft, the costs of additional living expenses if you can’t stay in your home, and provides personal liability coverage and medical payments if someone is injured on your property.
Homeowners insurance is not mandatory under state law, but most mortgages require you to have insurance. If your mortgage is paid off, you may not be required to insure your home, but it’s still a good idea. Homeowners insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents.
How much insurance should you have? That’s up to you, but the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends you insure your home to replacement cost value, or what it would cost to replace or rebuild your home or repair damages with materials of similar kind and quality without deducting for depreciation.
It’s important to note that some things aren’t covered under standard homeowners’ policies. These include floods, sinkholes, mine subsidence, and earthquakes. If these are concerns where you live, you may want to look into buying specific coverages for these issues.
Flood insurance is provided both through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and by an increasing number of private insurance companies. Flood insurance rates for NFIP have risen quite a bit in recent years. This is because the NFIP sold policies at low rates subsidized by the federal government. Recent disasters, particularly Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, caused this federal program to go deeply in debt, so Congress then passed laws requiring flood insurance rates to more closely match what this coverage would cost on the open market. You may want to check out private flood insurance options because these options may be more competitively priced. If you have a mortgage, make sure your lender will accept private flood insurance before buying it.
FEMA has also redrawn its flood zone maps, putting some properties in flood zones that were not previously designated as such. If you have a mortgage backed by the federal government, you probably will be required to have flood insurance if you are in a flood zone. More information about flood insurance is available at
If you think your home may be at risk for occurrences such as earthquakes, mine subsidence, or sinkholes, you should discuss this additional coverage with your insurance professional. Be aware that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department issued a notice in April 2015 saying that homeowners’ insurance policies with earthquake endorsements denying coverage when the earthquake is not “naturally occurring” are not permissible. If you are presented with such a policy, do not sign it, and report the incident to the department’s Consumer Services Bureau
online or call the consumer hotline at 1-877-881-6388.