If you're paying for a boilerplate homeowners insurance policy, you're most likely either paying for coverage you don't need, or you might be dangerously underinsured (or both!). Homeowners insurance policies are customizable for a reason. Your family and your home have different needs than someone across town, or even your next door neighbor. That's why endorsements to your homeowners insurance exist.
What is an endorsement?
It's essentially any additional coverage you might add to your homeowners insurance policy. You may also hear it referred to as an "add-on." For example, if you have a standard homeowners policy but you also want to insure your valuable jewelry, you would add a personal property endorsement to your homeowners insurance for that specific item.
A typical homeowners insurance policy provides coverage to replace or repair your home and some of its contents in the event of damage, however there are always exceptions. When you apply for homeowners insurance, your insurance agent will ask what might seem like a lot of questions. They do this so they can know more about your particular needs. They also want to make sure you do't have any vulnerabilities in your policy, and will make recommendations based on the information you provide.
These options can seem overwhelming, but fear not. That's why we're here - to help you understand your options and which ones might be a better fit for you than others. With that said, it can help to read through some of the coverages you can choose to "add on" to your homeowners insurance policy. Depending on your home, location, and other factors, we may recommend some of these to you.
Endorsements you can choose to add to your homeowners insurance policy in Virginia.
It's crucial to consider your home, geographic location, and financial situation when choosing the best insurance for your property. So let's get into the nitty-gritty with a comprehensive list of what can be added onto your homeowner's insurance.
Identity Theft Insurance
Identity Theft Insurance – also known as identity fraud expense coverage – protects you against identity-related crime. This protection is reimbursement insurance for the cost to repair your identity. It also provides prevention such as an in-depth credit monitoring dashboard, and includes other members of your household as well.
Note: We have an in-depth article about identity theft insurance here.
Scheduled personal property coverage (also called Valuables Plus)
Your homeowners insurance inherently covers much of your personal property. However, you may have some high value items that exceed the limits included in a standard policy.
Items like jewelry, fine art, antiques, guns, and furniture can be covered under personal property endorsements. This just ensures that if you experience loss of these items, you wouldn't be denied full coverage of the value of the item. Before you get the coverage, you may be required to have the item appraised so the insurance carrier can be sure of its actual value.
Water backup insurance endorsement provides additional coverage for damage to your property caused by a clogged sewer line, failed sump pump, or backed-up drains. In addition to that, it may also cover mold damage to your home caused by issues with the backup system.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies only cover water damage that originates from inside the home. For example, if a pipe inside the home bursts and causes flooding, that would be covered. However water backup is required if you want coverage from backup water that originates from outside of the home. Sewer lines, sump pumps, and drains that flow outside would be considered outside of the home.
Water Line / Sewer Line
A standard home insurance policy does usually not include sewer line replacement. Some insurance providers offer water or sewer backup as an endorsement of your existing insurance policy, and you should take a closer look at whether the coverage is limited or not. Other insurances do sell standalone sewer insurance policies.
Full coverage against all sorts of service line damage offers the service line endorsement. This additional policy for your property covers power, phone, and cable lines, water, and sewer pipes. In case these need to be excavated and repaired, costs can skyrocket quickly.
Better Roof Replacement
If you pay for better roof replacement, it doesn't mean you get a new roof right away. However, if your roof experiences damage and needs to be replaced (and falls under a covered loss), you will automatically qualify for building materials that are of better quality than the one that is being replaced.
Earthquake insurance is an option that your local insurance agent may recommend if your house sits near a fault line. It covers any damage to your home or personal belongings due to an earthquake.
In addition to structural and property damage, earthquake insurance can also cover temporary accommodations while your home is being repaired. If you took out a standard homeowners insurance without this endorsement in Virginia, your policy would most likely not cover any damages caused by an earthquake.
You can read more about earthquake coverage in Virginia here.
Business property / home-based business
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not fully cover business properties or a home-based business. If you have any business property stored in your home, it would be best to get this extra endorsement.
Sometimes standard homeowners insurance does cover any loss up to a certain amount as it only provides limited coverage related to property and liability. Most of the time the coverage limits are just not high enough to cover any business-related losses that might occur.
Some at-home businesses may require a separate commercial policy that's meant for businesses. This is especially true if you see clients in in your home or on your property. If you're not sure which type of insurance you need, just ask your agent and they can guide you in the right direction.
Building code coverage (also called Building Ordinance or Law)
One unexpected side effect of having to repair a damaged home is that building codes may have changed. If you have an older home this is especially important to consider. Even if your home was built according to building codes during the time of construction, they're probably different by now.
What does that mean for you? Any additional expenses to bring your home up to current building codes won't be covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, meaning you'll have to cover the difference. Building code coverage simply prevents you from having to pay out of pocket to account for changes in building code if your home were to need repairs.
Watercraft / Trailers
Maybe you own a boat or other watercraft tied to a pier on your property or outside the premise of your residence. In those cases, it would be worth checking your existing homeowners insurance to find out whether it's included or not. The watercraft endorsement is there to protect you from costs for damage on your watercraft with more than 25 total horsepower and a length of at least 26 feet (including sailing vessels). The same goes for trailers.
You can read more about watercraft insurance here.
Equipment breakdown coverage protects your appliances if they were to break due to a mechanical, electrical, or other type of system issue. For example, if your home experiences a power surge and it fries your HVAC system, this would be covered under equipment breakdown. A typical equipment breakdown endorsement provides up to $50,000 of coverage per instance.
Replacement Cost Coverage
The main difference between standard insurance and the replacement cost coverage endorsement is that you will get a complete replacement by the same or similar property with the endorsement. On the contrary, standard insurance only covers the actual cash value of the property, which will be most likely less than what you need to spend for a new property.
Usually, homeowners insurance policies do not include "earth movement" and sinkholes. In that type of event, you won't be covered if the damage is caused to your property. Sinkhole coverage can be taken out as an endorsement to your standard insurance, but it depends on the insurance company you choose.
Flood insurance is usually not included in a standard homeowners insurance policy and something you should consider topping up, especially if you are living close by a river, lake or the sea in Virginia. In case of the event of flooding, this endorsement will cover you.
Windstorms are among the perils generally covered by homeowners insurance. Just make sure whether your specific standard policy covers wind damage. If not, it might be a good time to think about extending your current policy.
Personal injury endorsement first sounds like you will be covered when you have an injury in your home, which is not the case. A personal injury endorsement on your homeowners insurance covers you in situations like false arrest, detention, slander, wrongful eviction, malicious prosecution, and invasion of privacy. You can understand it more like a mental or psychological-based claim instead of a physical one.
If you're looking for insurance to protect you if someone injures themselves on your property, you will instead want liability insurance. All standard homeowners insurance policies have liability coverage, but only up to a limit. If you want more, you should talk to your agent about Umbrella Insurance.
Dwelling Under Construction
If you are constructing or reconstructing your home, adding the dwelling under construction endorsement to your homeowner's insurance makes sense. The standard policy coverage will not cover any burglary or updates to your house if it's considered to be under construction.
It's also important to let your agent know if the home will be vacant for 30 days or more. This may require a separate vacant home policy. Vacant homes tend to be more susceptible to vandalism and theft.
Inflation guard endorsement
If you buy a new home, you might consider taking out inflation guard provision in addition to your homeowner's insurance. This endorsement continually increases your insurance coverage by a specified percentage, e.g., 5% every year.
Assisted living care coverage
A few insurance companies also offer assisted living care coverage in addition to your standard insurance. Its use is relatively infrequent, and it's one of those coverages not all of us will need. That policy covers any relative by marriage, blood, or adoption who's not living in your household. It covers expenses up to specific limits for hearing aids, contact lenses, false teeth, dentures, medical-alert devices, walking aids, and wheelchairs while staying at an assisted living facility.
Yard & Garden
The yard and garden endorsement cover and increase the limit for tools and landscaping alike. The endorsement covers any trees, plants, and even a high value lawnmower (such as a zero turn mower). You should consider this endorsement only if you own expensive equipment for your lawn or garden, or have had extensive landscaping done to your property.
Homowners insurance endorsements in Virginia
Taking out homeowners insurance in Virginia is no different from homeowners insurance in any other state. You should make sure that your standard policy is endorsed by all extras you would like to cover. Virginia does have a lot of older or even historic homes, and the typical homeowner's insurance required by Virginia law may not be enough for your home.
Find out why we are the trusted source for homeowners insurance in Virginia
Ronnie Shriner Insurance Agency has proudly served residents in Virginia since 1989. Based in Richmond VA, we specialize in tailored insurance plans based on each person’s specific needs, and we’re happy to help you select the best homeowners insurance option for you.