(ARA) - Are you a first-time home buyer? An established homeowner? An empty nester? Whatever stage of life you're in, it pays to make sure you have the right insurance - and you're not paying for coverage you don't need.
Homeowner policies can be customized to fit to your lifestyle, so you're not automatically paying for coverage on home upgrades you don't have, such as security systems, expensive jewelry or antique collections, says Charles Valinotti, senior vice president with insurer QBE
He says regardless of lifestyle stage, there's one type of coverage everyone should have - insurance to replace possessions in their homes. "If the home is destroyed, contents will be replaced at today's value."
Here's a summary of other essential insurance coverage to fit your lifestyle:
When you're new to home-buying
You've closed the deal on your biggest purchase yet and you need sufficient protection, even though you don't have many belongings. You'll need insurance for the structure of your home, as well as against common disasters, such as fire, severe storms, vandalism and theft. Extra liability insurance is a good idea in the event someone is hurt in your home.
"Remember to add coverage as you make improvements costing more than $5,000 or add TVs, computers, stereos and furniture to your home's inventory," says Valinotti.
When you're an established homeowner
You've moved into a home that fits your family's needs and is filled with belongings you've acquired - such as family heirlooms, artwork and expensive jewelry or rugs - that typically aren't covered by a basic homeowner's policy. Make a home inventory video to document your personal property and keep the video in a safe place away from your home, like in a bank safety deposit box.
"Established homeowners should consider buying an insurance policy 'floater' or 'rider' to cover these special items," Valinotti says.
When you're an empty nester
Not only have your children moved out to work or attend school, you've scaled down your lifestyle. Valinotti suggests that now is the time to reassess the value of your home and your possessions. "If your children have taken their things with them, such as furniture, laptops or televisions, you may need less coverage than you did before," he says. Thinking about starting a home business now that the kids are gone? If you work at home, you may need a supplemental liability policy that covers your work-related activities. If you decide that you're finished with your homeowner responsibilities and want to rent an apartment or condominium, remember: You still need insurance coverage.
Valinotti recommends talking with your insurance agent about what protection is essential for your specific stage of life. "That way, you'll be sure to have enough coverage to return to your current lifestyle should you experience a major loss," he says.