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Your Complete Guide to Homeowners Insurance in NJ

Homeowners insurance in NJ is one of the most important types of personal insurance that you can have.

Whether you have a home in the suburbs, a vacation property, or a coastal home down the shore, it’s important to know the right coverage to protect one of your largest investments.

It’s also important to review your coverage periodically and take measures around your home to help you save. In this article, we talk about each of those factors in greater detail.

Why Having the Right Homeowners Insurance in NJ is a Must

Homeowners insurance covers your home and personal property. Even though it is not a requirement in New Jersey like auto insurance is, you’ll typically need it if you’re financing your property.

While home insurance in NJ is an important part of protecting your personal assets, not all insurance coverages are the same. Choosing the right policy is just as important as choosing home insurance itself.

Here are a few reasons the right home insurance policy matters:

Get the Most From Your Claims

Some insurance carriers have poor reputations when it comes to actually paying out in claims. You can learn this information by reading online articles, but many people make their decisions based on the bottom number.

By choosing a reputable insurance broker, you can obtain multiple insurance quotes and understand what special limits are in the policies. This way, you’ll be protected when you need it.

Have Coverage for Perils Your Home is Likely to Face

Depending on your home and where you live, there are some perils that you’ll be more likely to experience. For example, New Jersey sees harsh winters with snow, ice and high winds. You’ll want to make sure that these perils are covered in your standard policy.

If you live in a flood zone, however, you’ll need a separate policy. Most homeowners policies only cover water damage from burst pipes or water heaters – NOT damage from a flood. Again, working with a trusted insurance agent ensures that all of your property’s needs are met.

Choose Riders to Cover Expensive Items Like Jewelry

While home insurance does cover the cost of your belongings, it’s only up to a certain amount. Therefore, if you have expensive items like jewelry, furs, antiques and other valuables, you may need an add-on or rider.

An insurance rider is added to your homeowners insurance policy in New Jersey and allows you to increase coverage limits, expand coverage for certain things, or extend protection for certain perils.

Here are some common riders for you to consider adding to your policy:

  • Scheduled personal property coverage
  • Water backup coverage
  • Building code coverage
  • Business property coverage
  • Identity theft restoration coverage

There is no right home coverage for everyone. To get the most from your policy, you will have to consider your unique needs and lifestyle.

Once you have a policy in place, it’s important to review it periodically, which we will go into in the next section of this article.

Why It’s Important To Review Your Home Insurance Policy

Do you know how often you should review your home insurance policy? The answer: every year.

Insurance policies are meant to reflect your current circumstances. Things change throughout the year, and your home insurance policy needs to be kept up to date.

For example, did you move into a new home? Did you receive expensive jewelry for your anniversary? Perhaps you started a home business.

If you haven’t reviewed your home insurance in some time, now is a great time to do so. If you find that you need more or less coverage or the addition of an umbrella policy, you can shop around and compare quotes with various carriers.

Here are the main reasons it’s important to do a yearly review.

Changes in Your Circumstances

A lot happens in a year. As you look back and reflect on the last 12 months, you can see how quickly your current homeowners policy may turn irrelevant. Failing to update your policy could result in a non-renewal or a claim not being covered.

For example, let’s say that you renovated your kitchen. This type of renovation adds value to a home, but if you don’t increase your insurance coverage, you could have a gap in coverage. If a fire broke out in your new kitchen, it likely wouldn’t be covered.

Additional changes that can affect your homeowners insurance in NJ are:

  • Increase in personal property
  • Installing a swimming pool
  • Buying a backyard trampoline
  • Installing a home security system (or other safety upgrades)
  • Adopting a new pet

Find Additional Discounts

People are sometimes hesitant to review their insurance policies because they don’t want their rates to go up.

But, reviewing your policy can cause your rates to go down. If you made updates to your home, such as by installing security cameras, or purchasing a hail-proof roof, you may be eligible for discounts.

Plus, your insurance agent can look to see if there are other discounts that you aren’t taking advantage of. Combining your policies through one carrier gives you the biggest discounts, but these discounts vary among insurance companies.

Understand Premium Increases

If your home insurance premium went up, wouldn’t you want to know why? Insurance rates increase for many reasons, and some of them aren’t legit.

Many people pay their homeowners premiums through their escrow accounts, so they aren’t aware when there’s an increase. Stay on top of your insurance premiums and know what you are being charged for and why.

Outside of reviewing your policy annually, there are many other ways to save on your homeowners insurance in NJ. Keep reading to learn how.

DIY Projects To Help You Save On Home Insurance

Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects do more than improve the look of your home for a lower cost. They can also help you save on home insurance premiums.

The insurance companies love when homeowners make regular repairs and updates because this tells them that the home is well-maintained.

Well-kept homes are less likely to have major problems, such as plumbing issues that can lead to flooding or electrical issues that can lead to a fire.

Let’s take a look at some of the most cost-effective DIY projects that you can tackle to save on home insurance.

Roof Improvements

The roof is one of the most important parts of the home. However, because it’s difficult to access, rooftops are often overlooked by homeowners.

Unfortunately, if you don’t know what’s going on with your roof, you can’t be sure that it can handle the threat of inclement weather and natural disasters.

To prevent major storm damage, be proactive in roof maintenance.

Have your roof inspected every few years, possibly sooner if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and strong winds. If you need a new roof, choose a tough material, such as metal or tile.

Ask your insurance company about discounts you can get by choosing a roof material other than asphalt. Also, ask about discounts that you can receive by having regular maintenance and inspections done.

Preventive maintenance allows you to make small spot repairs rather than full replacements that can cost thousands of dollars.

Pool Safety Improvements

Having a personal swimming pool in your backyard is a wonderful addition, but it comes with extra responsibility.

Death by drowning is one of the leading causes of death among children 1-14 years old, so the insurance companies automatically look at homes with pools as being higher risk.

To lower this risk, you can have a safety fence built around the pool. (This is a requirement in the state of New Jersey.) Insurance companies will often give a discount for installing a fence that complies with the state’s codes.

Safety fences lower the risk for accidental drownings and other injuries, plus makes swimming pools less likely to be vandalized.

Home Safety Improvements

By making home safety improvements, you can noticeably reduce the cost of your homeowners insurance premiums in NJ. And adding a battery back-up to sump pumps and/or a whole house generator could also help premiums.

Again, the insurance companies favor homes that are less likely to be vandalized, burglarized, or damaged, which is why they offer a small discount for safety upgrades.

Before making home safety improvements, talk to your insurance company about what guidelines you have to meet and how much you can save.

You want your updates to give you the return you’re looking for. Some of the best DIY home improvements are:

  • Put up smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Install a home sprinkler system
  • Use shatterproof windows
  • Put in motion-sensor lighting
  • Check all electrical wiring
  • Install leak detectors
  • Put up storm shutters
  • Install a home security system

Now, what if you have a second home in New Jersey? What type of policy should you have? Read below to find out.

Choosing the Right Insurance Policy For a Second Home in NJ

Are you thinking about buying a second home in New Jersey? This investment offers many perks, such as tax savings, rental income, and an additional place to spend with family and friends.

But, just like your primary home, a second property comes with risks that must be accounted for. In fact, insurance for second homes is usually higher because they are more vulnerable to perils, burglary, and vandalism.

To ensure that you get the best insurance policy for your second home in NJ, it’s best to work with an independent agent who can obtain multiple quotes for you.

This way, you can compare apples to apples and make sure you are getting the best coverage for the price. In the meantime, here are some tips to follow.

Check Your Primary Homeowners Insurance

Check with your primary homeowners policy first, as some policies will cover a second home.

If your insurance does extend to another property, you may not need to take out a second policy. However, this is rare. You will probably find that you need a separate policy, as vacation homes carry their own set of risks.

Know the Coverage You Need

The amount of coverage you need for your vacation home depends on a few things, such as where the home is located, how it will be used, and its risks. Aside from covering the structure of the property, you should also have enough personal liability coverage.

Also, if you plan on renting out a second home, or the home is located near water, you’ll want to talk to your insurance agent about rental insurance and flood insurance.

Ask About Discounts

Generally speaking, premiums on second homes are higher than on primary homes. But, there are ways to save money, so talk to your insurance agent about how to get the most from your policy.

For example, a home security system can protect your home when you’re not there, reducing the risk for theft and vandalism. Also, bundling insurance policies can reduce your rates.

Shop Around for the Best Coverage

Insurance on a second home varies from carrier to carrier, so be sure to get several quotes and compare coverage and price.

The Soden Agency does this automatically for our clients. We work with many insurance companies and are able to find our clients comprehensive and affordable coverage options.

Insurance is essential for protecting your secondary or vacation home, especially if you are living on the coast. There are specific coastal insurance factors to consider, which we review in the next section.

6 Things You Need to Know About Coastal Home Insurance in NJ

Coastal home insurance is a necessity for New Jerseyans living along the coast. While extraordinarily beautiful, beachfront properties are at a higher risk for flood hazards, wind hazards, wave hazards and erosion hazards.

As a native New Jersey company, Soden Agency has been helping people protect their beach homes since 1925.

After working in this industry for many decades, we feel that anyone with a coastal property should know these six things about coastal home insurance.

Coastal Insurance Protects Homes Along the Coast

Coastal insurance in NJ is a type of standard homeowners or non-standard policy in NJ.

These policies often come with separate deductibles for hurricanes, named storms and/or wind. Fortunately, coastal home insurance is more affordable than it was a few years ago.

There are also different deductibles and pricing to choose from.

Insurance Carriers Have Different Requirements When Insuring Coastal Homes

You may be surprised to hear that your home is considered “coastal” by an insurance company, regardless fo whether it is your primary or second home in NJ.

Insurance carrier definitions vary wildly.  Some carriers consider your home coastal if you are 6-10 miles or more inland, but most agree that properties 2 miles or less from tidal water are “coastal.”

Hurricane and Windstorm Deductibles are Not the Same Thing

Coastal insurance policies can be difficult to understand! One of the complexities is the separate deductibles.

For example, hurricane and windstorm deductibles are different, even though they sound similar. Hurricane deductibles apply to damage caused by a hurricane. Windstorm deductibles apply to wind damage.

It is important to note that both types of deductibles are applied to the replacement cost of your home, not the claim.

Deductibles are in Percentage Form

Another confusing aspect of coastal insurance is the way the deductibles pay out. Your standard deductible is usually a straightforward dollar amount. However, for coastal insurance, it’s a percentage deductible.

These deductibles can be a flat fee or between 1% and 5% of your home’s value. Once again, it is important to note that both types of deductibles are applied to the replacement cost of your home, not the claim.

So, if your home is insured for $500,000 and you have a 5% hurricane deductible, this means you must pay $25,000 before the insurance company pays anything!

Sadly, many of the national, direct-to-consumer home insurance companies are automatically applying 5% hurricane deductibles to homes nowhere near the coast of NJ.

The good news is that as of 2019, you should now be able to get a hurricane deductible of less than 5% in NJ – but you will likely need to speak to an independent insurance agent like us.

Home Insurance is Not the Same as Flood Insurance

Don’t confuse home insurance for flood insurance. Flood coverage is excluded from home insurance policies, even if you have coastal coverage.

If you want/need flood insurance, you can purchase it separately through us. We offer private flood insurance policies in addition to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Not all Coastal Policies are the Same

It’s true. Not all coastal policies are created equal.

To get coverage that meets your needs and budget, work with a trusted insurance carrier who understands your property, your location and your coverage options.

This prevents gaps in your policy and ensures you have what you need if a storm or hurricane rips through.

Soden Agency has been protecting New Jersey primary, secondary, vacation and coastal properties for decades. Contact us for a homeowners insurance quote in NJ to get the coverage you need to protect your assets and family.