When you sign up for a home insurance policy, your insurance agent asks you for details about the house. What's your square footage, how many full and half bathrooms, what size is the garage, what kind of flooring you have, is there a basement, is it finished or unfinished, and the list goes on!
It may seem nosey, but it's really so the agent and insurance company can accurately calculate a "Reconstruction Cost Estimate" -- what the insurance company thinks it would cost for a contractor re-build your house, as it was before. With your input, this amount eventually becomes the "Dwelling" limit on your policy, meaning the maximum amount of rebuilding dollars your policy will pay to rebuild in the event of a covered claim.
Though you can't decrease this amount, you can increase it, if you think your home warrants it. Ultimately, approving the Dwelling amount is your responsibility.
It's a pretty good bet that you can rely on the agent's and insurance company's expertise to come up with an accurate Dwelling amount. But you should have your own figure in mind, too. How you determine it is up to you, but you should consider data from the local tax assessor, and input from experts in the construction industry. I do this, and more, as part of my due diligence when calculating the Dwelling amounts for customers and prospective customers.
Here's a couple of watch-outs: Do not rely on using the sales price of the home, or the value from an online home price estimating website. One reason is that the value of your land is included, and, of course, land isn't insured by your home policy. Another reason is that sales prices and online estimating websites don't necessarily reflect actual, current construction costs, as they change throughout the year.
Having your own idea about what it would cost to rebuild your home will help make your conversations with your agent that much more productive, and ensure your home is properly covered.
David Yates – Farmers Insurance
1881 General George Patton Dr., Suite 103
Franklin, TN 37067
Phone 615-778-1816 Fax 615-778-1817