Upgrade Your Texas Home Insurance

By: Jim Waltrip
In Texas, it's only natural that we want to make our homestead our own. Whether it's adding decking to the backyard, upgrading from window units to central air and heat, adding a bedroom or even pouring cement for a new driveway, Texans are big on making improvements. But while you're making those changes to your home, make sure that you change your Texas home insurance policy, so that you and your family have the proper insurance protection in case you need it.

Your homeowner's insurance policy provides you with coverage to help with damages caused by storms, theft, fire and other disasters. A standard homeowner's insurance policy insures your home and your possessions and can be tailored to fit the unique qualities of your property. It should also cover your liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage caused by you, members of your household, or even your pets to other people. The standard Texas home insurance policies are HO-A (homeowner's association insurance) policies, which provide limited actual cash value coverage of a home and its contents, and coverage is provided only for the types of losses specifically listed in the policy.

It's important to familiarize yourself not only with the terms of your Texas home insurance coverage, but also with the amount you have insured yourself for and your home's current market value. Under Texas law, to receive full payment for damages to your home (minus the deductible), you may insure your home for at least 80 percent of its replacement cost. Insuring your home for less than 80 percent of its full replacement cost means that the insurance company is responsible for paying only part of the expense of a partial loss.

As you make improvements to your property and it increases in value, your Texas home insurance policy needs to reflect those changes. Some home improvements, such as installing smoke detectors and extra security such as an alarm system that includes strong doors, dead bolt locks and window locks not only provide extra security, but if you make your insurance agency aware that you have made these improvements, you might be able to knock down your premium costs as well. Conversely, other changes, such as adding a backyard pool, trampoline or swing set means you should consider increasing your liability coverage through an umbrella policy in case someone is injured while playing on your property.

HO-A policies only provide the actual cash value coverage of a home, which is the replacement cost of your property minus depreciation. If you don't keep up with making sure your home insurance reflects the increase in your property's values and purchase an endorsement increasing your actual cash value coverage, you may not have enough money to completely rebuild.

Your home's location is another consideration to factor in when making sure that your insurance coverage is adequate. Moving from one geographic area, such as from California to the Texas coast, means purchasing a separate policy for damages caused by natural disasters and swapping out earthquake insurance for flood insurance, neither of which are covered under a standard HO-A insurance policy.
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