A Guide to Home Insurance in California (CA)

If you own a home in California then it is a MUST to arrange comprehensive California Home Insurance Cover that properly protects you and your family.  As with any insurance, home insurance seems like a lot of money to pay out every month,, UNTIL disaster strikes and your home gets robbed or burned down by fire, and then suddenly you will be very glad that you took the time to get proper California Home Insurance that offers good levels of cover.

There are typically six elements that are covered by home insurance policies, and these are:

Dwelling Cover
Cover for other structures (garages, sheds etc)
Personal Property Cover
Loss of Use
Personal Liability Cover
Medical Payments to others


So there is far more to consider about getting a good policy than you may previously have considered.
The US Census Bureau periodically collates data from the different departments of insurance as to what an average home insurance policy costs in the United States.

The latest report (released in 2011) shows the figures for 2007, and is the most accurate of any of the average home insurance figures that you may see online, because it is actually based on official data, and not simply one companies prices (which can vary dramatically based on a number of different factors).

Of the three biggest states in the United States California has by far the lowest average home insurance costs, with average California home insurance costing $925, compared to $1,534 in Florida, and $1,448 in Texas.

Though it is worth pointing out that the average across the whole of the United States was $822, with Idaho being the cheapest state in terms of an average cost for home insurance at just $422 for a year’s cover.

Now, clearly these figures will vary according to the specific counties in which you live, crime rates and the amounts and types of cover that you need. But it is nevertheless good to realise that average California home insurance rates are roughly in keeping with the levels in the rest of the country, and are actually cheaper by a wide margin than some other big states.



How To Get Better Than Average California Home Insurance!

If we consider the six elements that go to make up an average California Home Insurance policy then it is important to realise that variations in any of those six elements can dramatically affect how much your policy will end up costing you.

Let’s now consider each of them in turn:

Dwelling Cover – This covers the physical costs of your property (but not the land it sits on), and so you need this to be sufficient to cover you in the event that the whole house could be destroyed and you would have enough money to build the same house again from scratch.

Other Structures – This would cover other buildings that are on your land, but which are not attached to the main structure (which is covered by the ‘Dwelling Cover’ portion of your policy.) These might include outbuildings, sheds, detached garages etc. This is normally limited to just 10% of the overall cover, so if you have some quite elaborate outbuildings you should explore expanding this cover.

Personal Property – All of the possessions that we gather together over a lifetime are typically mostly stored in our homes, as well as more mundane items like cookers, fridges, carpets and furniture which we may not think of quite so ‘fondly’, but which nevertheless cost us considerable sums of money to purchase, and which would cost large amounts to replace.

All of these items need to be taken into account in any inventory that we take for purposes of buying California Home Insurance.

There are two important considerations to bear in mind with the personal property portion of any home insurance policy, and that is that firstly typically only 50% of the total coverage can go towards paying off the personal property portion of any cover. And that secondly most California Home Insurance Policies will carry limits on the amounts that you can claim for items that are seen as higher risk by the California Home Insurance Companies.

These would normally include the following items:


Antiques (this is normally considered as items over 100 years old, but check with your insurance policy to double check as to how they define it, as it is their definition that counts!).
Furs
Cash
Jewelry
Silverware
Fire Arms
Collectibles
Fine Arts/Paintings



It is very important to do a proper inventory of your possessions before you commit to a policy, as typically any of the above items CAN be added to a policy as separate items upon paying an additional premium.

If you are fortunate enough to have lots of jewelry, cash and paintings in your home then you need to be very careful to accurately catalogue exactly what you have. If you can also produce receipts for the items as well as photographing them in their original place in your home, then this is all useful information to keep separately in a file (preferably safely away from your home) to be able to produce in the event of needing to claim on your California Homeowners Insurance Policy.

Loss of Use – If you are unable to live in your home (perhaps due to a fire etc) then the loss of use provision in most home insurance policies will pay for you to be alternatively housed whilst your home is being  made habitable.

Normally this will be limited to 20% of the total cover that you have arranged, and will also cover expenses such as meals that you may incur by not being at home.

Personal Liability Coverage – If someone is accidentally injured whilst in your home then it is the personal liability portion of your California Home Insurance policy that you will look to in order to cover you in the event that the other party sues for damages.

It is important to realise that this will only cover accidents, and not pre-mediated acts. But it will cover both legal expenses to defend yourself, and damages (up to a certain amount which is typically $100,000).

You can increase the levels of cover that these pay if you also increase the premium.

Medical Payments to Others – If someone is injured in your home and requires medical attention, then this part of your California Home Insurance policy will pay out reasonable medical expenses.

This is not a substitute for medical insurance, and will typically only cover non-family members.

Additionally, you should read the policy documentation very carefully as you will find that there are numerous exclusions that will mean that you cannot claim, and typically these would include such circumstances as:

Floods
Termites
War
Nuclear Accidents
Tidal Waves
Earthquakes
Mold
Neglect
Rat Damage
Mice Damage
Insect Damage
Water Damage caused by leakage
Losses where a property has been vacant for a period of time (typically 60 days)
Earth Movement


You should however note that with California Home Insurance Policies it is a legal requirement for the California Home Insurance Company to offer you the option of adding earthquake cover onto your home insurance for an additional premium (which given the tendency of California to earthquakes is clearly a wise addition to make). And this will be either direct cover from the insurance company itself, or through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA).

You will often also find that it is possible to get cover for just about any circumstances, but you may find that the cost of any additional premium is prohibitive, and so check the policy wording carefully before committing.

Statistics from the US Department of Justice show that there are 8,640 burglaries EVERY DAY in the United States, which is about one every ten seconds and so home theft is much more common then you may realise.

This makes it essential to get proper Home Insurance in California that really protects you.


California Property Prices

Of course property prices will impact on how much California Homeowners Insurance you need, so here are some statistics from Trulia Real Estate which shows the average listing prices for properties  in California, based on county in July 2011.

The Most Expensive Counties for California Homes

Santa Barbara - $1,488,051
Monterey - $1,409,141
Marin - $1,339,380
San Mateo - $1,169,624
San Francisco - $1,046,374

The Cheapest Counties for California Homes

Imperial - $168,635
Kern - $184,454
Yuba - $192,760
Kings - $196,462
Tulare - $202,211


Conclusion


Clearly getting affordable, good quality, comprehensive Home Insurance California wide is not something that you should leave to chance.

The best way to get started is to get some California Home Insurance Quotes right now and see not only how much different companies charge, but also get a better idea about each companies specific policy exclusions, and which policy would offer the best balance of features to price for your needs.



 

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