Home insurance 101: What matters most and why

Home insurance questions abound

Home insurance can be mystifying, prompting a flood of questions. What does a homeowner policy cover? How do I know how much coverage I should carry on my family’s home? Does home insurance cover my furnishings? And on and on.

With so many questions, and so much riding on getting the right answers, it’s hard to know where to turn to figure it all out. So we asked our home insurance experts to help us demystify some of tough questions to help you figure out what matters most and why.

So what does a home insurance policy cover?

Home insurance coverage can vary from from one policy to the next, but there are some types of coverage that are typical of most policies. To start with, homeowner insurance normally covers damage to your house from unfortunate events including fire, theft and vandalism. Some policies extend homeowner policy coverage to detached structures and personal belongings. In addition, home insurance policies typically cover the increased living expenses that may be incurred due to damage from a covered loss when your home is not habitable. And your homeowner policy can include liability coverage in the event that you or a member of your household accidentally causes injury to or damages the property of others.

Ok, so how much coverage do I need for my home and my stuff?

As you shop for homeowner insurance, carriers’ agents will work with you to help calculate how much coverage you need to fully recover from a catastrophic event that results in major damage to your home or loss of personal property. There are a number of considerations you should weigh as you determine how much coverage to carry but, before you even start that process with an agent, you should look for one key element with regard to a potential insurance carrier for your home insurance: trust.


“A bargain policy pushed on you with smoke and mirrors by someone who’ll take their commission and never talk to you again is likely no bargain. Remember, trust equates to value.”


When you’re seeking to protect your house, belongings and financial security from potential liability, you want a trusted advisor. So it’s worth taking a little time to learn more about the companies you’re considering, as well as trusting yourself and your impressions of the agent who’s advising you. How long has the company been in business? Whose homes and property do the company primarily insure? People like you? Does the agent lay out the pros and cons, costs and benefits of various options or just try to push you to max out coverage in every area? Will the agent who advises you be the agent who works with you after you buy your policy? Simply put, do these factors add up to your trusting the agent and company? Because a bargain policy pushed on you with smoke and mirrors by someone who’ll take their commission and never talk to you again is likely no bargain. Remember, trust equates to value.

Once you feel good about an agent, they can help you weigh your options regarding how much coverage you need. Chief among those considerations is an estimate of what it would cost to rebuild your home. Factors involved in estimating that cost include:

  • Square footage of your home.
  • Age and condition of your home.
  • Current, local construction and material costs.
  • Type of foundation.
  • Any specialized design, engineering or construction features.
  • The type of interior and exterior construction and materials, including frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer.
  • Type of roof construction and materials.
  • The style of the house.
  • Attached or detached garage and outbuildings.

What if I already have home insurance but didn’t consider all these things?

Ok, so you bought your home, had a million things to do and just signed up with the first carrier your mortgage company referred you to. Now you’re thinking maybe they weren’t thorough enough and you think you might want to take another look. Do you have to wait for a renewal date to talk to another carrier in hope of finding the trusted advisor you need? Not at all.

You don’t have to wait until your renewal date to change insurance companies. If you cancel before your policy expiration date you will receive a pro-rated premium refund from the date of cancellation through your expiration date. Of course, companies vary, so you should check with your current carrier to discuss their cancellation and refund procedures. But the bottom line is that you can and should seek a new quote from a company you trust, if you have any doubts about your home insurance coverage. And if you find a better fit for your homeowner insurance needs, it’s easy to switch.

Armed Forces Insurance: your trusted homeowner insurance advisor

Armed Forces Insurance has been a trusted advisor to American armed forces service members for more than 135 years. We’re not a giant corporate skyscraper full of slick insurance executives. We’re a small company headquartered just down the road from Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. We know each other, and our customers know us. If you’re looking for a someone you can trust to shoot you straight and help you protect your home and property, check out our homeowner insurance page.

Learn more about home insurance:

A Consumer’s Guide to Home Insurance (National Association of Insurance Commissioners)

Homeowners Insurance Basics (Insurance Information Institute)

Armed Forces Insurance

Get the right homeowner insurance from a company you can trust.