- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2000

When moving into a new house or apartment, you will need insurance policies to protect yourself from loss. As you research the type of insurance you'll need www.insurance.com is a good starting point you may be overwhelmed by the number of different policies available and unsure about what coverage is needed.

The forms of insurance seem uncountable when it comes to homeownership. Some policies are required for financing, while others are available at the homeowner's or renter's discretion. All policies have fine print which every purchaser should read very carefully. There's nothing more frustrating than to pay hundreds of dollars for a policy that doesn't cover your loss especially if you could have purchased a rider for that coverage.

The various policies residents should consider include property, title and financial insurance. Below are a few of those type policies. For detailed information, consult a financial or insurance professional.

• Renters policy This type of policy does not cover the dwelling itself, but rather all the stuff you pack into it. Keep in mind the fine print, because only certain "perils" are covered by the insurance. They include: fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, explosion, riot or civil disturbance, damage from aircraft, vehicles or smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, broken glass, volcanic eruption; falling objects, weight of ice, snow, or sleet, accidental discharge or overflow of water (not the same as flooding), sudden and accidental tearing apart, freezing and artificially generated electrical charge.

You may have noticed earthquakes and floods are not included in the covered perils. If you're renting property in an area prone to these threats, consider a separate policy for coverage.

• Homeowners policy If you purchase a house with a mortgage, you will need two homeowners policies. The first is part of your principal, interest, taxes and insurance payment to the mortgage company. This payment is held in escrow by the mortgage company, then paid out when bills are due for the individual portions of the monthly payment. The insurance policy, paid by the owner, actually covers the mortgage company in case the house is destroyed.

The second homeowners policy is to protect your personal interest for the repair or reconstruction of a house and its contents.

• Moving insurance While homeowners policies cover accidents and the property in the house, when you are moving, your policy may not cover incidents on the road or while you're moving into the new property. Moving insurance may already be part of your homeowners policy check to see if you're covered. Referred to as moving insurance, this coverage would be part of an insurance line called "inland marine insurance."

You can buy a separate policy from your current insurance provider, or, if you have hired a moving company, it may have coverage available.

Not all policies are created equal, so be sure to check the coverage carefully before finalizing the policy. Moving insurance coverage can be calculated three ways: basic, which pays 60 cents per pound at no cost to you, depreciated value of the lost item and total replacement cost.

• Title insurance When you buy a house, you receive title to the property, which, in essence, gives you the right to own the property you're purchasing. Sometimes that title may have a defect, and title insurance is designed to protect your and your mortgage company's financial interests in case of a "clouded" title. Defects in the title may include mechanics' liens on the property, inherited property with no clear instructions that the person selling it is the rightful owner, forged signatures, etc. This type of insurance is usually paid for up front during the closing on your house.

Other insurance policies available to homeowners include mortgage, life/disability, flood, earthquake, condo/co-op, personal property and sewage backup. Riders are also available for items that may not be covered in a regular policy. For details, consult an insurance professional.

M. Anthony Carr has written on real estate issues for 11 years. Direct your questions and comments to 8411 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax, Va. 22031 or send e-mail to macarr@nvar.com.

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