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If you own a house, you need homeowners insurance. With all the other expenses that come along with homeownership, it can be tempting to select the cheapest insurance policy you can find, but that could be a big mistake.

Home Repairs and Reconstruction
You may not be required to obtain enough homeowners insurance to cover the entire replacement value of your home, but that doesn’t mean you should choose lower coverage limits just because you can. If your house were destroyed by a fire or a natural disaster, you might have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars for rebuilding expenses not covered by insurance.

After a natural disaster, the costs of building materials and labor can skyrocket. If your insurance policy caps the amount it’ll pay to repair or rebuild your house, the coverage may be inadequate. For additional premiums, you can purchase guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which will raise your coverage limits if construction costs rise following a disaster.

If you own an older home that doesn’t comply with modern building codes, you can pay extra for insurance to cover costs to rebuild the house in a way that conforms with current building codes. You can also purchase inflation protection to raise your coverage to keep pace with increases in the costs of home construction.

Damaged or Destroyed Belongings
Some insurance policies cover the cost to replace stolen, damaged, or destroyed items with identical or comparable new ones, while other policies only cover the “actual cash value,” which takes depreciation into account. Actual cash value policies have lower premiums, but you may regret choosing that coverage to save money if you suffer a major loss and have to replace a lot of expensive possessions all at once.

Standard homeowners insurance policies limit which possessions are covered. If you have jewelry, furs, artwork or other expensive belongings, basic coverage may not provide enough protection. A floater will raise your coverage limits for an additional premium.

Covered Perils
Homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by a limited list of perils. If your house is damaged by a non-covered peril, your policy won’t cover repair and replacement costs. You can pay extra to purchase insurance coverage for flooding, earthquakes, strong winds or hail.

Damages That Exceed Liability Limits
An accident on your property that causes major injuries or death may result in a lawsuit seeking more than the liability limit of your homeowners insurance policy. Your other assets, including vehicles and savings and retirement accounts, could be seized, unless you have an umbrella policy to protect your other belongings.

Make the Right Decision
It can be tempting to get cut-rate homeowners insurance coverage, but you may regret it if you file a claim and only receive a fraction of the money you need–or none at all. Contact your insurance agent or individual companies to discuss your needs and to compare rates.

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