If you are a Kansas homeowner or a Kansas renter, can you answer basic questions about your insurance?

Whether you are a renter or a homeowner, you should consider an annual review of your homeowners or renters insurance policy, a review strongly recommended by our staff at the Kansas Insurance Department (KID). Reviewing your coverages lets you evaluate whether the coverage is still adequate (or too much) for your current situation. When you (and your local insurance agent) review your policy, be sure to find the answers to the following three questions.

What does my homeowners or renters policy cover?

A homeowners insurance policy covers the structure, belongings and legal obligations if someone is injured at your home. A renters policy does not insure the structure, but otherwise provides similar coverage.

Check the type of replacement value provided in the policy. Actual cash value (ACV) 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 or its contents with similar quality materials or goods. Understand, however, that in order to receive the full replacement cost, most companies require you to show proof of replacement or repair before issuing the total amount. This also requires you to submit the proof within a certain time specified by your policy.

Liability insurance protects you from legal obligations arising from accidents involving visiting non-residents. With a few exceptions, such as auto or boating accidents, all-purpose liability coverage follows wherever you go. An umbrella policy can extend the liability limits of a homeowners or renters policy if the policy limit is insufficient.

Homeowners and renters policies typically include limited medical expense payments for injuries occurring on your premises to visiting non-residents.

How much coverage do I need?

Making a home inventory is the best way to determine the appropriate level of coverage needed for contents. An inventory is also a useful tool to have in case of a loss. When compiling the inventory, make sure to include as much detail as possible about the items.

Homeowners do not need to insure the value of the land a home sits on, but coverage should include any outdoor structures on the property.

What are my deductibles and discounts?

Deductibles and discounts are generally the easiest places to save money. Most companies offer discounts for people who have more than one type of insurance policy with them, and for people who have had few claims or are long-term customers.

When it comes to the deductible — which is the amount you have to pay if there is a loss — usually the higher it is, the lower the premium. It's normal to consider raising a deductible to save on your premium, but remember, your share of the bill will be that much more following a claim.

After reviewing the policy, you might also ask these questions:

Are there any losses - like flood or earthquake - I need to worry about that are not covered in my current policy? Neither flood nor earthquake is covered by a standard homeowners or renters policy. There are optional insurance policies or riders for both disasters.

Has anything changed in my coverage in the last year? When talking with an agent, ask if there are any anticipated changes when the policy renews.

More Information

For more general information about homeowners or renters insurance and the basic coverages in a policy, go to www.ksinsurance.org and read or download our publication “Homeowners and Renters Insurance.” You can download our Personal Inventory publication there as well.

For specific questions about coverages or about an insurance company or agent, use the KID online chat feature on the home page of our website, or call the KID Consumer Assistance Hotline (in Kansas) at 800-432-2484.