You just bought a home. You need basic coverage. Whatever most people get- theft, fire, unexpected emergencies, right? But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty details, how much do we really need? Understanding the types of coverages included in homeowners insurance packages and the ones you can “add on” to your policy can make it easier to decide. J.M. Whitney and co will be able to help you navigate the seas of homeowners insurance, if you just ask. 

If you need me, call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far.
-Marvin Gaye

Here’s an overview of what’s typically included in a homeowners policy, as well as some other things to consider based on exactly where you live and what belongings you own.



Dwelling coverage should help to pay to rebuild or repair your home if it’s damaged by a fire, extreme wind, hail storms, lightning or vandalism. These topics are what are referred to as “covered losses.” 

Considering How Much- Determining how much dwelling coverage you’ll need boils down to the estimated cost it would take to rebuild your home. A myth is that dwelling coverage is determined by the market value, which is incorrect. 

Pro tip, If you have a mortgage (most of us do), a good lender will often require some sort of dwelling coverage, limits and deductible plans, which we can walk you through so you meet all standards to get moved in and cozy as stress-free and quickly as possible. 

Check the box and chill.


Other Structures

It’s a no brainer to make sure to insure everything on your property, not just your house. “Other structures” may include detached garages, sheds, and even fences (not cheap to repair/replace any of these!)

If any of you have ever had animals chew the bottom of these structures without property foundations, you know what we’re talking about…

Considering How Much- Many policies calculate roughly 10% of the amount you had determined for the coverage of the structure of your house. Based on the “other structures” you’re covering, a J.M. Whitney insurance agent will help you determine if this percentage is adequate. 

Bought It For The Shed


Personal Property 

Perhaps one of the most sentimentally-attached items in the home, personal property insurance will cover items like your furniture, kitchen items, appliances and even clothing is they’re damaged or destroyed by a “covered loss” (see above). Something we know well to consider is individuals that may also work out of their home. 

Unfortunately it doesn’t cover when you accidentally shrink your favorite shirt in the dryer or when your kid rips off part of the refrigerator base…

Considering How Much- In this category you have the choice of “actual cash value” or “optional replacement cost” coverage. Both are good for certain individuals and are subject to different guidelines. Roughy 50-70% of your dwelling coverage may be a good starting place for your personal property coverage limit. What we recommend to our clients is to take an inventory of everything you own and keep an assessed value in your files. We can take the rest from there to help you come to a final decision. 

It is personal, and it is our business.


Loss of Use

This means if you’re not able to live in your home due to a covered loss (see above), this policy will pay for your living expenses while your home is restored. 

Considering How Much- This coverage is a quick estimation based on the dwelling coverage you decide for yourself. 20-30% of the dwelling coverage limit is common.

America’s Guest- Not For Long


Personal Liability 

Protecting yourself and members of your household if responsible for causing bodily injury or property damage to others. Find some common examples below.

Dogs – the most common source of personal liability claims is the family dog. If your dog bites someone, you will be held liable for the resulting injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

VIsitors  – injury to guests in your home can potentially result in expensive medical bills and a claim against you. If you regular host people in your home, your risk of liability claims increases, especially with alcohol in the mix. 

Fallen Trees – property damage you might cause to your neighbors by way of falling trees and branches can cause significant damage to a neighbor’s home and may also result in injury or death at the same time.

Considering How Much- Often policies will provide a minimum of $100,000 in personal liability coverage. Of course there are higher limits available if desired. Rule of thumb- design your policy to provide enough liability insurance to cover the total value of at-risk assets, ie.e vehicle, money in a bank account, certain investments. 

Call my financial planner. #trustissues

Medical Payments 

If a guest is accidentally hurt while at your house/on your property, this coverage will cover medical expenses, only up to the policy limit established. Any excess damages higher than limits are your responsibility, making this an important section to review carefully with your agent at J.M. Whitney. 

How Much You May Need- Many homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum amount of $1,000 coverage, per person. Higher amounts of coverage may also be available.

Considering How Much- Many policies provide a minimum of $1,000 per person, but of course higher amounts of coverage may be available to you.

Hello, 911, come quickly,
“My partner just fainted when they saw the doctor’s bill.”

A man holding a house key

In Conclusion, homeowners insurance is essential and more complex than you might think. Having a team like the one at J.M. Whitney will be there to assist at every step of the way, no matter what happens. 


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J. M. Whitney Insurance is an independent insurance agency located in Watertown, Massachusetts. Give us a call, stop by, or request a quote online to find out how much we can save you on your insurance.

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