Thanks to the unique threats that California throws at those who call it home, an average homeowner's insurance policy is rarely going to cut it in the Golden State. Earthquakes, mudslides, landslides, wildfires, and even the high cost of local real estate in California, all demand that Californians have a better understanding of California insurance than homeowners in respective states. That said, here's a quick primer of what you need to know to be in-the-know when it comes to soliciting reasonable California home insurance quotes.
California Home Insurance Costs (Are You Paying Enough?)
The average cost of home insurance in California is a good place to start. According to a recent study by the Insurance Information Institute, California home insurance policies average $925 a month, making it the 11th most expensive state in the nation for home insurance. And while that figure might give you pause, the truth of the matter is that most Californians probably need more home insurance than they're presently carrying. The "property intelligence" and research firm MSB estimates that as many as 68% of U.S. homeowners are underinsured by an average of 18%, while a June 6, 2008 study done by consumer advocate United Policyholders found that 75% of the homeowners affected by the devastating 2007 Wildfires in San Diego and San Bernardino Counties were underinsured at an average of $240,000 per home. Since insurance providers won't fully compensate you for the loss of your home or its contents if your insurance coverage amounts are 80% or less than your home's true value, the risk of being underinsured is a chance you definitely don't want to take.
There's More to California Home Insurance than Base Policies
In addition to the risks of being underinsured, homeowners in the Golden State need to understand that California's unique geography and ecology make California home insurance a lightning rod for the "exclusions" (i.e. exceptions) that are standard in most home insurance policies. As a rule, flooding, landslide, mudslide, and earthquake damage are not covered by a typical insurance policy, a lack that Californians are smart to address if they live in high-risk areas. Here are a few extra coverages you might want to consider adding to your policy, or obtaining separately, if you call California home:
- Earthquake Coverage --According to the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), the entire state of California is considered "at risk" for earthquakes, with some areas higher risk than others. That said, protecting your home with separately purchased earthquake coverage is the only way to ensure you'll be compensated for damage sustained in a major quake.
- Flood & Landslide Insurance --Expanding development, wildfires, coastal erosion, and changing climate patterns are all contributing factors in areas that are at high risk for mudslides and landslides. Regardless of the cause, however, it's important that you understand the difference between the two. Flood insurance, purchased separately from FEMA, will protect you from damage caused by mudslides (defined as being induced by heavy rains or flooding). Landslides, which are caused by shifting earth unrelated to flooding, are much tougher to insure. Separate coverage can be purchased, but often at prohibitive costs.
- Added Property Damage Coverages --Beyond Flood and Earthquake Coverage, California homeowners might want to consider acquiring extra property damage insurance for trees and shrubs, outbuildings, and recreational vehicles such as boats and ATVS, which are rarely protected by a garden variety homeowner's policy.
Tracking Down Reasonable California Home Insurance Quotes
Regardless of your individual insurance concerns, the World Wide Web has proved to be an incredible resource for residents of the Golden State who are searching for quality California home insurance quotes. By regularly checking your home's true value against your coverage amounts, and staying up on the current home insurance rate fluctuations (insurance rates are always on the move, month to month and year to year), you'll be in the best position to adequately protect what's yours with the most favorable rates available. Furthermore, online quote services like NetQuote.com can provide you with a host of home insurance quotes at no charge to you, so that you can compare the rates, coverage recommendations, and services of multiple providers, on the way to obtaining the best insurance possible for you and your California home.