In this chapter, you’ll find information on different types of insurance, including homeowners, auto, medical, dental and life insurance, as well as practical tips on reading policies and shopping for coverage. As you organize your relocation to the Los Angeles area, it’s also a good idea to review your family’s insurance needs. For your home, you’re probably planning to purchase new home furnishings, appliances and other equipment that should be noted in your updated home inventory. If you’ll be commuting to and from the office each day, you’ll need to know how many miles you’ll be driving. Keep copies handy of previous auto, home and health policies for easy reference when completing new insurance applications to save you time and aggravation.

In California, the state’s insurance regulator is the California Department of Insurance (CDI). At its website (, you’ll find a wealth of consumer information and names of insurance providers that are allowed to market their services in the state. There is also a Consumer Help Line for answers to general insurance questions or for information on filing an insurance-related complaint. Call (800) 927-4357 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Following are some tips from state insurance regulators to assist you with all of your insurance shopping needs.
  • Get price quotes from several companies and compare the rates and coverages. CDI publishes auto and homeowners’ price comparisons that can help you compare sample rates. The price comparisons include annual price estimates for sample policies and information about a company’s complaint record and financial strength.
  • Include independent agents in your search. Some agents only represent a single company or company group. Independent agents typically represent several companies and can give you multiple quotes at one time.
  • Determine what coverages you want and need. For instance, if you have valuable car stereo equipment or if you need more than basic residential coverage for jewelry, collections, or other valuables, you may need endorsements that change or add coverage. Endorsements that add coverage will raise your premium.
  • Answer questions truthfully. When you apply for insurance or ask for a rate quote, wrong information may result in an incorrect price quote, rejection of your insurance application or cancellation of your policy.
  • Consider higher deductibles. Your policy probably will have deductibles. A deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket on your claim before the insurance company pays. The higher your deductibles, the lower your premium. Choose the highest deductibles you can afford.
  • Ask about discounts. Insurance companies may offer policy discounts that will lower your premium. Ask your agent what discounts the company offers.
  • Make sure you have uninterrupted coverage. Never cancel an existing policy until you get your new policy or a written “binder.” A binder proves you have coverage until the company issues your policy.
  • Don’t pay cash to an individual agent. Pay with a personal check or money order made out to the insurance company or agency. Get a receipt for your premium payment.
  • If a company turns you down, keep shopping. Different companies have different criteria for accepting customers.

For most people, a home is their largest financial investment, which means shopping for homeowners insurance is essential in protecting this valuable asset. Start by planning on taking enough time to conduct a thorough search of the insurance marketplace to find residential insurance that meets your specific needs. Whether you are interested in purchasing homeowners (including fire only), renters, condominium unit owners or mobile home insurance, it is important to shop and compare insurance products just like when shopping for any other important consumer purchase. No matter which policy you choose, read the exclusions in your insurance contract.

What Is Covered By Homeowners Insurance?
The homeowners policy contains two sections. Section I provides property coverages (A, B, C and D) while Section II provides liability coverages (E and F). A brief description of the individual coverages follows:
  • Coverage A–Dwelling: Coverage A provides major property coverage that protects your house and attached structures if it is damaged by a covered peril.
  • Coverage B–Other Structures: This coverage provides protections to other structures on the residence premises that are not attached to the dwelling. Items covered include detached garages and tool sheds. Coverage B normally is limited to 10 percent of the Coverage A limit; however, you may purchase more coverage for an additional premium.
  • Coverage C–Personal Property: This coverage provides protection for the contents of your home and other personal belongings owned by you and other family members who live with you. Coverage C is normally 50 percent of Coverage A or subject to an established amount agreed upon by you and the insurance company. Coverage is limited on certain types of property that are especially susceptible to loss, such as jewelry, furs, fine arts, silverware, antiques, collectibles, firearms and money. Additional amounts of insurance may be purchased. You may want to consider scheduling these items separately. Ask your agent for specifics.
  • Coverage D–Loss of Use: This coverage will help with additional living expenses if your home is damaged by a peril insured against to the extent that you cannot live in your home. These expenses include, but are not limited to, housing, meals and warehouse storage. Coverage D normally is limited to 20 percent of Coverage A.
  • Coverage E–Personal Liability: This section of the homeowners policy will provide coverage in the event you or a resident of your household are legally responsible for injury to others. Coverage E normally provides a defense and will pay damages as the insurance company deems appropriate. There are some exceptions. The liability coverage will not protect you in all situations, such as an intentional act. All of the exclusions and specific language can be found in your policy.
  • Coverage F–Medical Payments to Others: This coverage pays for reasonable medical expenses for persons accidentally injured on your property. For example, if a neighbor’s child is injured while playing in your home, the Medical Payments portion of your homeowners policy may pay for necessary medical expenses. Medical Payments coverage does not apply to your injuries or injuries of those who reside in your household, so it is not a substitute for health insurance. Business activities also are excluded. All of the exclusions and specific language can be found in your policy.

Additional Residential Coverage
You may elect to buy specialized homeowners coverage that provides additional protection for your dwelling and contents beyond the standard coverage limitations in most homeowners policies. Ask your insurance agent or broker about available endorsements to extend coverage. Endorsements to coverage, such as building code upgrade, greatly can add to your protection in a loss.

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