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CA Department of Insurance

Insurance Commissioner Jones Offers Insurance Tips For Consumers

News: 2011 Press Release

For Release: February 18, 2011
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
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Insurance Commissioner Jones Offers Insurance Tips For Consumers
Advises Californians to evaluate their insurance needs

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced tips for all California consumers to consider when evaluating their needs for insurance. "I believe it is extremely important for consumers to evaluate their individual needs for insurance and to make sure that they are covered in the event of an emergency or disaster," Commissioner Jones said. "It is absolutely imperative that consumers take these kinds of precautions before disaster strikes, otherwise it may be too late."

Five Questions to Ask Your Agent about the Insurance on Your Home

Without looking, what is the value of the contents of your home covered by insurance? Is a flood covered? If someone is hurt while visiting, will insurance pay medical expenses? Whether a renter or an owner, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) suggests a review of all insurance policies annually. It is a chance to brush up on what is covered, and to evaluate whether the coverage is still adequate (or too much) for your current situation.

Commissioner Jones offers the following tips for Consumers:

1. What type of coverage do I have?

Homeowners or Renter's. A homeowner's insurance policy covers the structure, belongings and legal obligations if someone is injured at your home. A renter's policy does not insure the structure, but otherwise provides similar coverage. To review a list of coverage's that are in a typical homeowners or renter's policy, go to, select the appropriate life situation on the right, and then click on the "Home" tab.

Replacement Values. Check the type of replacement value provided in the policy. Actual cash value (ACV) is the amount it would take to repair damage to a home or to replace its contents after allowing for depreciation. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild or replace a home and its contents with similar quality materials or goods, without deducting for depreciation.

Liability Limits. Liability insurance protects you from legal obligations arising from accidents involving visiting non-residents. An umbrella policy can increase the liability limits of a homeowners or renter's policy if the policy limit is insufficient.

Medical payments. Homeowners and renter's polices typically include limited medical expense payments for injuries occurring on your premises to visiting non-residents.

2. How much coverage do I need?

Make a home inventory. A home inventory is the best way to determine the appropriate level of coverage needed for contents. It is also a useful tool to have in case of a loss. When doing the home inventory, make sure to include as much detail as possible about the items. Click here for a home inventory worksheet and tips to get started.

Do not over insure. Homeowners do not need to insure the value of the land a home sits on, but coverage should include any outdoor structures on the property. For both homeowners and renters, concentrate on an accurate list of belongings and be sure liability limits are at a proper level.

3. What are my deductibles and discounts?

Save money on homeowners or renter's insurance. Deductibles and discounts are generally the easiest places to save money on this type of policy. Most companies offer discounts for people who have more than one type of insurance policy with them, and for people who have had few claims or are long-term customers. When it comes to the deductible - which is the amount you have to pay if there is a loss - usually the higher it is, the lower the premium. It's normal to consider raising a deductible to save on premium, but remember, the bill will be that much more following a claim.

Insurers may change policy terms at renewal, but they must notify you first. Read all notices and information sent from the insurance company. When talking with the agent, ask if there are any anticipated changes when the policy renews. 

4. What additional coverage may be needed? 

Neither flood nor earthquakes are covered by a standard homeowners or renter's policy. There are optional insurance policies for both disasters. Ask about available options or visit for details on flood insurance.

Additionally, wildfires are a very real threat in California. Here are some tips regarding wildfire preparedness and coverage:

Create and maintain clearance around your home. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire. This 100 foot defensible space also provides for firefighter safety when protecting homes during a wildland fire.

Burn debris only on permissive burn days

Cut weeds and dry grass before 10 a.m. when the humidity is higher and temperatures are cooler to reduce the chance of igniting a fire.

Follow proper guidelines for burning debris on your property.

For more information click here for the Ready, set go program from CAL FIRE.

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.4357. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.

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