Homeownership is a milestone in many adult lives. A new home can mean freedom, stability, and growth. When purchasing your dream home in Montana, whether it is your first property or a residence new to you, it is important to prioritize your needs and the needs of the area you choose to reside.
Consult multiple insurance companies for knowledge and the best rate
“Don’t go with the mortgage company’s recommendation just because it’s easier,” advises State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred. Insurance companies can explain the nuances of homeowners insurance and relate their experience to your situation. Alfred says to contact 2-3 insurance companies when researching your decision.
As you research, keep in mind personal factors that make a difference in your rates. “Your credit score, your claims history, the deductible you choose, the length of time you have been with your insurance company, the amount of coverage you choose and if you’ll have a security system are all influential components,” says Alfred.
Familiarize yourself with the condition of your potential new home
Older homes, if not updated throughout years of living, have the potential to increase your home insurance rates from the very beginning and some elements, if overlooked, may cause your insurance company to pass on insuring the home entirely.
The conditions of roofs, electrical, sewer lines, HVAC equipment and the foundation of a home make a big impact on its insurability. These are the type of issues a home inspection will reveal. Alfred advises to always have a home inspection performed.
Alfred points out additional concerns. “All of these factors would be a problem. Also, poor housekeeping and unrepaired maintenance items like paint, gutters, and siding,” says Alfred.
Consider protection for environmental risks specific to your area
Although basic home insurances will cover many incidents, they do not protect you from disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and sewer backups. For these concerns, you will need to consult your insurance company about separate insurances or endorsements.
Great Falls residents, for instance, can see an increased risk of flooding by 26% over a typical 30-year mortgage if they live on a floodplain. If you are looking at a house in a low-lying area near a body of water, keep flood insurance on your list of questions when consulting with insurance companies on home insurance.
Safeguard your home against seasonal threats
If you are insuring your main home or a secondary property, seasonal weather is a constant threat to your home’s condition.
In Montana, wind and hail are the top the list of weather-related disaster claims. Taking preparatory steps to guard your homes against future damages will save you in the long run. For example, the right roofing material not only acts as a safeguard for your home, but impact-resistant roofs can lead to larger insurance discounts.
Freezing pipes in the winter are another concern, but with a higher price tag.
“If a person owns a recreational property they use seasonally and they experience frozen pipes and haven’t turned their water off, the water runs and freezes,” explains Alfred. “I remember a specific claim in Essex, Montana where the neighbors saw a frozen waterfall coming out from underneath the front door. The water had been running and freezing for two weeks. The claim was in excess of $100,000.”
Keep track of your belongings upon settling in
A well-executed home inventory list of your possessions can help you and your insurance company in the event of a loss. Keeping track of your items in today’s world means not limiting yourself to the typical pen and pad.
“Home inventories are not a requirement, but with today’s technology of smart phones and the Cloud, it is easy to walk through your home an do that inventory and then store it in the Cloud,” says Alfred.
A convenient time to take a home inventory is right when you move into a new home, during the unpacking process.
For appliances, electronics, and larger equipment such as dishwashers and lawn mowers, be sure to capture the serial numbers of these items. These too will come in handy in the event of loss.
Home insurance is an important step to homeownership that should not be underestimated. “There are so many different policies with so many different coverages that it is extremely important to sit down with a professional that can point out the differences,” says Alfred.
For further assistance on your insurance needs, reach out to Pam Hansen Alfred and her team at (406) 453-6010, stop by their offices at 2817 10th Ave. So., or visit www.pamhansenalfred.com.
2817 10th Ave S
Great Falls, MT