The best homeowner’s insurance for veterans – what is it, and how do you determine it?
The subject of house insurance is far from our usual topic, but there’s a reason we’re addressing it.
Our question regarding how to determine the best homeowner’s insurance for veterans arose after a discussion of vetrepreneurs. If you’re hand-forging knives or tools in your yard, or building pallet-wood furniture in your garage, we wondered, could that fuck up a homeowners insurance claim?
That led to a discussion of riders and provisos, claims and exclusionary clauses, and all sorts of complicated shit that made our heads hurt. One thing was obvious – you want to be doing business with a good company, not a collection of assclowns. But how to make that determination? How does someone (particularly someone with no experience in such matters) choose the best homeowners insurance for veterans?
Avoid misinformation and confusion about homeowners insurance
It’s confusing, to be sure, and there is a lot of misinformation out there (like the myth of veterans paying more for car insurance than civilians). However, just a little research should help set the record straight. Nobody wants to have bad shit happen, so hopefully you’ll never need homeowner’s insurance (or renter’s insurance, or personal injury insurance, or someone who can haul ass over to your house and clear your browser history). The enemy gets a vote, though, and life ain’t fair, so you need to have some contingency plans in place.
Thankfully there are a number of resources online to help make that determination, including the Insurance Information Institute. Whether you’re still serving active duty or you’re an honorably retired veteran (and regardless of whether you’re using a VA Home Loan), the charts and comparisons available at the III can be invaluable when determining the best house insurance for a veteran (or renters insurance, for that matter). Take for instance the entry on average premiums for homeowners and renters insurance from 2007-2016; that’s just one.
Homeowner’s insurance defined.
Consumers Advocate describes home insurance thusly”
“Home insurance (also referred to as homeowners insurance) protects your home, property, and personal belongings from damage resulting from accidents such as fire, natural disaster, theft, and vandalism. It also includes liability coverage in case you or your property are responsible for accidents and/or bodily injury that occur in connection with your property, such as your usually harmless dog biting the mailman, a tree in your yard toppling onto your neighbor’s new sports car, or a girl scout slipping on your driveway while delivering cookies.”
Factors to consider re: the best homeowner insurance for veterans
There are different ways to analyze such a decision beyond price, of course, but most analyses revolve (not surprisingly) around a few primary concerns. Though broken out in different ways, almost all generally follow the guidelines articulated by Consumers Advocate in their Best Homeowners Insurance Companies roundup. Those are:
- Customer service
- Pricing & discounts
Does this list of considerations apply to making a decision about the best home insurance for veterans specifically? Certainly, though other considerations may come into play as well, i.e. proximity to local VA care, commuting distance to an base or assignment, deployment potential, that sort of thing.
For it’s part, The Simple Dollar posits in a recent updated article that to determine the best home insurance, one should look at four key factors rather than three, in addition to premiums.
The four considerations they discuss are:
- Claims processing
- Customer service
- Coverage options
- Financial stability
Reviews.com took some other things account when they made their recommendations, ultimately rating eight of 99 companies based on the following:
- Nationwide availability
- Financial strength of the company
- Open Perils policies plus endorsements
- Customer service
You can see their determination(s) in the original article, which begins with a salient fact: your biggest investment deserves the best protection.
Clark Howard (who began serving in his State Guard after 9/11) references Consumer Reports and other sources for his advice deciding the best homeowners insurance for veterans, their dependents, and everybody else. According to the CH article Best and worst home insurance companies, CR asked several thousand of its readers to rank their insurance companies based on six factors. Those were:
- Ease of reaching an agent to handle the claim
- Agent courtesy
- Promptness of response and attentiveness in handling the claim
- Simplicity of the claims process (number of steps, amount of work etc.)
- Damage amount: Satisfaction with company’s estimate of dollar amount of damages
- Timely payment: Satisfaction with timely payment by insurer
Other considerations for choosing the right house insurance
An additional, unfortunate thing to consider when determining the best homeowner’s insurance or renters insurance for a veteran is that of divorce or separation. Depending upon MOS, specialty code, and rate, veteran homeowners (well, all veterans, but we’re focusing on homeowners here) often have a higher rate of marital disruption than their civilian counterparts. Extended deployments, injury, the stress of PCSing, and similar hardships see to that.
If one member of a previously married couple continues to live in the marital home subsequent to the divorce, legal separation, or annulment, that person should doublecheck that the homeowners insurance is under his or her name (possibly exclusively in his or her name). The JAG office may be able to help a serving member in that event, but it cannot hurt to know ahead of time if there are any sort of drawbacks or penalties to such a policy adjustment.
Note: do not ask an insurance agent about potential complications that might arise from a divorce in front of your spouse. Just don’t.
And no matter what you were told when originally choosing the best homeowners insurance for your needs, be sure to go back and review your policy coverages if the bad things happen and you wind up 1/2 of a formerly happy couple. You’ll want to make a new accounting of your possessions too, assuming you managed to hold onto half your shit – you can do it, you are, or were, in the military. You ought to be familiar with the process of inventory by now! (Note that this will also help after a burglary too.)
Some final considerations for your checklist
Some other things to check out while determining your version of the best homeowners insurance for your needs:
• What, if any, insurance restrictions are imposed by the type of loan you’re using for the purchase (including VA loans).
• Is there an occupancy clause? Will there be blowback if you’re deployed?
• Does a particular company offer a discount to current or former military personnel (like what you get from Geico) – and is it actually advantageous when taken in totality with other factors? (We’re not talking about veteran entitlement type whiny-ass discounts, mind you.)
• If you have a side hustle, or your spouse works from home, does that work-from-home job affect your insurance?
• Are there reviews of the homeowners insurance you’re looking at, like these of different VA loans?
Is there a war zone clause? It might sound counterintuitive, but some claims made against house insurance are made from faaaaaar away. You might be outta luck if you’re making a claim against something lost or destroyed while you were in an area declared a conflict area.
• Are you contracting with an insurance company directly, or are they being underwritten by someone else? If the latter, could that negatively impact you?
• Can you save some money with relatively simple and inexpensive security measures? Sprinklers, we mean, or fire alarms and smoke detectors, not necessarily fortified home defensive positions.
More to follow. Take care of your kasbah!
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