Inspect What's Not Covered

Don't assume that all "perils" are covered. As homeowners learned the hard way after Hurricane Irene last August, standard policies exclude damage from flooding, not to mention earthquakes and landslides. "Most people aren't aware of what their policy does and doesn't cover until they file a claim," says Deeia Beck, executive director of the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, a state consumer agency in Texas.

If you live in a high-risk area for floods, you may be required to add supplemental coverage, which can cost $1,700 to $3,300 on a $150,000 building and $50,000 worth of contents.

Also, take note of common exclusions, such as those on mold and even broken pipes owing to lack of routine maintenance. You know which nuisances your home is susceptible to. Use that knowledge to beef up coverage by adding so-called endorsements. Been a victim of sewage backups, which aren't covered by most standard policies? Insure against them for anywhere from about $100 to $250 a year. 

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