Looking for an insurance quote before buying a house?
If you’re looking for an insurance quote before buying a house, bravo!—your instincts are, well… half right.
Insurance can potentially be a major factor in the home you choose to buy. For first-time home buyers, in particular—a group who represented 35% of all home sales during 2020’s peak season—knowledge is power.
But comparing different dollar amounts (Quote A versus Quote B) won’t tell you everything you need to know about protecting your largest investment. Instead, it often makes sense to look beyond the quote; to seek detailed, individualized answers about the types of risks and coverages surrounding your ideal property.
Where should you go to get these answers? So glad you asked! Here are five steps that will empower every homebuyer who’s looking for an insurance quote before buying a house:
1. Find an independent, local insurance agent.
Why independent? Why local? Knowledge, service, and options. Boom. That’s the deal. If those elements sound good to you, trust us when we say you can’t find better service or deeper knowledge from a national insurance carrier. And you definitely won’t enjoy the benefit of different options, which tends to cause headaches in the unhappy event that your home insurance is ever cancelled—or if your bill goes up dramatically and you’re stuck with what you’ve got.
(Here’s a more detailed answer to the question, “do I need an insurance agent?” Check it out if you have a few minutes—especially if you’ve never dealt with an insurance claim. Truly, an independent agent is worth having on your side.)
Meanwhile, your real estate agent is a great person to ask for recommendations. He or she comes in contact with lots of Massachusetts insurance agents. He or she probably knows who is most responsive, experienced, and offers access to today’s best home insurance carriers (because even some local agents can only offer one, two, or three options).
2. Conduct an in-depth property review with your insurance agent.
After touring 87 houses, you know the truth better than anyone: properties are NOT all the same. Even within the same price range and the same zip code, you can find very different kinds of homes. Some are near the water. Some were built 100 years ago. Some provide the option of rental income. Some come with custom upgrades—like energy-efficient building materials, for example.
Ask your independent agent to review photos of the property and its detailed description, especially if the home is a high-value home with unique or historical features. Many agents/carriers don’t take these details into consideration. And unfortunately, if a fire or a windstorm ever blew through, priceless components—like antique moldings or millwork—might not be covered. Getting into nitty-gritty details about how you intend to use your space are also key. Ask your agent about in-law apartment insurance, Airbnb rental insurance, or landlord considerations, if applicable.
3. Think big-picture insurance. (Even if you’re too busy and excited.)
Once you’ve set your sights on a specific property, it’s easy to get caught up in house-buying excitement. You’re already picking out paint colors, while your agent—luckily—is thinking about coverage needs within the context of your overall risk profile. Because, for most people, home insurance should not be a standalone coverage.
For example, let’s say the new house you’re eyeing comes with a swimming pool or a fenced-in yard for your two dogs. It’s probably time to think about umbrella insurance, too. (Most financial experts recommend that homeowners carry umbrella coverage equal to their current net worth and/or employment income stream.) At-home risks like pools, treehouses, trampolines, and dogs cast a bright light on personal exposure, but even households without these risk factors can be vulnerable to liability lawsuits.
You might not be ready to pull the trigger on expanded coverage right now. After all, homebuying is a busy, stressful time. But it’s important to at least have this protection on your radar. Purchasing a home is a major milestone in your financial life. It also means opening yourself up to a major financial loss if you’re ever named in a suit that exceeds your home/auto liability limits—and many of today’s lawsuits do.
4. Request a home’s C.L.U.E. report before making an offer.
Does the property you’re considering have a track record of prior insurance claims (fires, burglaries, water damage, etc.)? There’s an easy way to find out! The record is called a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report. CLUE reports date back over the past five years. They include a list of any claims filed, the type(s) of property loss suffered, the amount of money the homeowner received, and the insurance company involved.
CLUE reports are designed to help insurance companies (underwriters) decide how risky a given property is, and how much they should charge to insure it—or if they want to insure it at all. CLUE reports are also useful for prospective buyers, because they paint a picture of how easily and affordably insurance coverage can be obtained. You might not put too much stock in a small, one-time claim. But if you see a pattern of related losses (repeat flood claims, a string of appliance leaks, mold or asbestos remediation), you might be getting into a property that no carrier wants to insure. (Not to mention exposing your family to health risks or shoddy construction.)
NOTE: only the current property owner can obtain a CLUE report. So, if you want one, ask your seller’s agent to request it. Depending on what you find, you might want to write more detailed checkups into your offer.
5. Ask for an in-depth home insurance quote.
Finally, when you’ve completed all the homework above, you’re ready to request that quote you were originally seeking. Just keep in mind the limitations of online quoting tools and calculators, which aren’t designed to give you a complete answer. That’s because home insurance is more complicated than supplying a property address and hitting “submit.”
You need to know if the quote you’re getting represents replacement value coverage or actual cash value. You need to know if important endorsements are included (e.g., sewer backup and sump-pump failure coverage), or if the price you’re seeing is built around serious gaps. Even if you could be 100% certain that all quotes you’re seeing encapsulate all the same coverages and limits, you’d still be shopping on price—and overlooking key benefits that certain carriers offer (e.g., concierge-level support when replacing lost or stolen objects).
Here again, your best bet is to have an independent agent by your side, throughout the homebuying process. We’d love to be that resource for you! Give our team a call at any stage of the homebuying process: 508-339-2951. And congrats on this exciting time!!!