RICHMOND — Whether you rent or own, keeping your home
and its contents safe is a priority. This includes having the right amount of insurance
The State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginia homeowners
and renters to review their insurance policies annually to make sure they have the
coverage they need. A homeowner's insurance policy covers the structure and contents
of your home and legal obligations if someone is injured on your premises. A renter's
policy does not insure the structure, but otherwise provides similar coverage.
"Virginians want the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have the insurance
coverage they need, when they need it," said SCC Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline
K. Cunningham. "Lack of understanding about your insurance coverage can be costly."
She encourages Virginians to schedule a yearly checkup with their insurance company
or agents to learn more about what to expect from insurance policies and providers.
The Bureau offers the following tips when reviewing your homeowner's or renter's
coverage or shopping for a policy:
- Determine the right amount of coverage for your needs. This includes making a room-by-room
inventory of all your personal property.
- Know the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost. Actual cash
value is the amount it would take to repair damage to a home or to replace its contents
after allowing for depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to
rebuild or replace a home and its contents with similar quality materials or goods,
without deducting for depreciation.
- Weigh the cost benefit of opting for higher deductibles. Deductibles are the out-of-pocket
costs you agree to pay to repair damage to your home or its contents before you
are entitled to collect from your insurance company on each property damage claim
- Ask about discounts such as multi-policy discounts or discounts for alarm systems.
- Review your policy's liability and medical payment limits. Liability insurance protects
you from legal obligations if someone is hurt while visiting your home. Homeowner's
and renter's polices also typically include limited medical expense payments for
injuries to visitors on your premises.
- Consider any special items in your home like art, jewelry, memorabilia or collections
(such as stamps or coins) that may require special coverage.
- If you operate a small business out of your home, you may need additional coverage.
- Determine what types of losses (such as flood) may not be covered by your standard
homeowner's or renter's policy and ask about available options.
- Consider whether an umbrella policy would suit your needs. Such a policy provides
excess liability limits and possibly other additional coverage above a homeowner's
or renter's policy.
- Select insurance agents and carriers with care. Deal only with insurance agents
and companies that are licensed by the Bureau of Insurance to sell insurance in
- Shop around. Not every company charges the same rate.
- Remember: an insurance policy is a legal document. Read it carefully. Also read
all notices and information sent from the insurance company.
Among the many publications offered by the Bureau of Insurance are consumer guides
for homeowners and renter’s insurance. The Bureau also has specifically trained
staff that can assist consumers with their insurance-related questions and concerns.
For more information, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau's Property
and Casualty Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9185
or visit the Bureau’s website at
Consumers who are hearing or speech impaired may call through the SCC's Telecommunications
Device for the Deaf and hard of hearing (TDD) at (804) 371-9206. Additional information
may also be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website
at insureUonline.org .