Your Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page, also known as the “dec” page, summarizes the essential information pertaining to your insurance coverage.
The declaration page includes your name, address, insured property descriptions, and premium. Also included are the coverages, limits, deductibles, discounts, relevant insurance policy forms, and endorsements of your policy.
Unfortunately, this document also contains confusing terms that explain little to the homeowner. For example, what is coverage A, B, or C? Is an HO-3 a good thing?
We are here to break down the insurance jargon so you can better understand how to read your insurance declaration page and understand how your home insurance policy protects your home.
What Does the Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page Contain?
A homeowners insurance declaration page contains a lot of valuable information that you must understand if you are to get the benefits you paid for should something unfortunate happen to your home.
The declaration page is proof of homeowners insurance, which mortgage carriers typically request yearly. If you are considering whether to file a claim, you may find the information on this page helpful in understanding your policy’s basic coverages and limits.
First, it’s essential to know what your policy doesn’t cover. Flood damage? No. Earthquakes? Nope. Sewer backup? Try again. Home insurance policies do not cover many events. Read more about what isn’t covered by home insurance.
At the top of your homeowner’s declaration page, you’ll see a policy number. If you do have to file a claim, you’ll need to keep this number handy. A policy period will also be listed, stating the duration of the policy.
Your name will be listed as the insured. Also listed is the name of your agent or agency which manages your policy and the name of the carrier which provides your insurance.
How to Read Your Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page
There’s a list of coverages included within every homeowner’s insurance policy. These are coverages A, B, C, D, E, and F. Don’t know what these mean? You’re not alone! Here’s what you need to know:
- Coverage A: Dwelling — This is coverage for the overall structure of your home, including the roof. It includes anything physically attached to the house, such as a deck, garage, or patio.
- Coverage B: Other Structures –As the name implies, this covers structures not attached to your home. Examples of fences, sheds, pools, or gazebos may fit into this category.
- Coverage C: Personal Property — This will cover the personal belongings in your homes, such as furniture or TVs. In most policies, certain items with a high value, such as jewelry or fine art, have restricted coverage limits such as $1000 or $2500. Therefore, you will need additional coverage for these items, referred to as a rider (which we will discuss later.)
- Coverage D: Loss of Use — If you ever need to stay somewhere else while repairs are being made to your home for a covered claim, that’s what this coverage will be used for. The insurance company will cover certain expenses for a specific time and price.
- Coverage E: Personal Liability — This coverage provides legal protection if you are ever sued for an accident on your property.
- Coverage F: Medical Pay to Others — If someone gets hurt on your property, this coverage will cover the costs of their medical payments up to a certain amount.
Home Insurance Endorsements & Riders
A home insurance policy generally covers your property up to a certain limit and sub-limits for items of high value. That’s where an insurance endorsement comes in.
Home insurance endorsements, also known as riders, are tools for your insurance company to modify your policy. Typically, these are optional components that can be modified to provide additional coverage but can be utilized to specify exclusions.
In other words, this section of the homeowner’s declaration will essentially add or remove coverage to your policy.
For example, above, we talked about jewelry or fine art being considered “riders.” A standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover certain things of high value- so if someone stole your $12,000 engagement ring, you’d be out of luck.
A rider will provide additional coverage for a high-value item, like an engagement ring, and you’ll be charged extra on your policy (example: typically 1-2% of an engagement ring’s value).
Understanding Endorsement Terms
Some items that may show up in this section include:
- HO-3: This is the standard, basic homeowners policy that covers your contents on a named perils basis, meaning a specific list of accidents will and will not be covered. It will vary between carriers, but some examples of covered perils are theft, wind, and fire. Examples of HO-3 policy exclusions are earthquakes, sewer backup, and sinkholes. HO-3 policies are limited to coverage outside the home only.
- HO-5: This policy is considered an open peril policy which means that you’ll have coverage against almost any risk posed against your home AND the contents inside your home. There are specific exclusions, but the main advantage of an HO-5 policy is that it doesn’t specify between home content and structure. So, for example, if you spilled a glass of red wine on your brand-new carpet, the replacement carpet would be fully covered under an HO-5 policy but not an HO-3.
- HO-4: This policy is specific for renters and covers only belongings and personal liability.
- Water/Sewer Backup: This coverage protects your home if there are any damages from the backup of water or materials from a sewer, sump pump, or drain. It is not the same as flood insurance (you will have to buy a separate flood insurance policy).
- Jewelry/watches/furs: The average homeowner’s policy covers only about $1,000 of jewelry or other valued items if they are stolen or destroyed. If you have an item valued greater than that, you will need to “schedule” those items and add them to your homeowner’s policy as an add-on of sorts. The items will need to be professionally appraised before they can be covered.
How to Obtain Your Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page
When purchasing home insurance, your insurance carrier automatically sends your insurance declarations page. This information appears at the beginning of your policy documents, which you may receive by email or mail. Insurers are also increasingly offering your declarations page online through their web portal.
Homeowner Declaration Page -Final Thoughts
The homeowner’s insurance declaration page, also known as the “dec” page, provides a summary of the essential information about your insurance coverage, including your name, address, insured property descriptions, premium, coverages, limits, deductibles, discounts, policy forms, and endorsements. It is important to understand this document in order to fully benefit from your insurance policy and to know what is and is not covered in the event that you need to file a claim.
The declaration page will include information about exclusions and limitations, which outline what is not covered by your policy, and endorsements or riders, which are optional additions to your policy that can provide additional coverage or specify exclusions. Finally, the declaration page will include information about your policy premium, deductible, and any discounts that you may be eligible for.
By thoroughly reviewing your homeowner’s insurance declaration page, you can gain a better understanding of your policy’s coverage and protect your home and belongings. If you are unsure about any aspect of your home insurance policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mason-McBride for clarification.
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