Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page: What It Means
There’s no doubt that any type of insurance can come with some confusing terminology—and a lot of paperwork. Fortunately, the Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page is actually quite straightforward if you know what it is, what it means, and how to read or use it.
What Is a Homeowners Insurance Declaration Page?
Most types of insurance, including homeowners insurance, come with a declaration page. This is typically a one-page document that summarizes your policy and all the most important information within it. This page is commonly referred to as the “dec page.”
On this page, you should expect to find specific identifying and contact information about both parties involved, the policy information you might need in a pinch (like your policy number), and whatever discounts you might quality for.
What to Look for
In particular, you should expect to find all of the following on your declaration page:
- Policy number
- Policy period, or the effective date when the policy expires
- Named insured: the person whose property is being covered
- Home address of the covered individual
- Specifics about various categories of coverage
- Address of the property being covered
- Loss payee: the person or entity paid in a claim
- Name and contact information of the agent managing the policy
- Name and contact of the insuring company
Each insurance company has its own arrangement of information on the dec page, and they may or may not include these specifics:
- Home type and construction
- Utilities information
- Type of roof
- Names of relatives or non-relatives living in the home
- Specifics of how payouts are figured
- Insurance downpayment information
Purpose of the Declaration Page
The primary purpose of the dec page is to give you proof of insurance and a fast way to access key information in case you need it. For example, if you want to call your insurer and get more detailed policy information, having the basics at your fingertips makes that simple. If your mortgage company wants proof that you have insurance, the dec page can be that proof.
The dec page is also very useful if you want to shop for new insurance as it allows you to quickly compare your coverage and the rate you’re paying with other policies you want to consider.
Sometimes Confusing Terms
Some of the terms on a dec page can be a little confusing, but if you familiarize yourself with a few of the most commonly used terms, you’ll be able to use your dec page effectively whenever you need it.
The “loss payee” is simply the person the insurer will cut a check to in the event of an insurance claim. For most people, this is the mortgage company. In other words, when you file a claim, the check goes to the mortgage company for the repairs.
The insurance company also typically sends the loss payee a notification any time you make a change to your insurance policy, if they choose to change coverage, if the policy is canceled, or if you’re late making a payment.
This number is what you have to pay in order to keep your policy active. The premium for homeowners insurance varies just as premiums for life, health, or car insurance do, and several factors go into this.
Your credit is one important factor—the better your credit, the more likely you’ll get lower premiums. It also matters precisely where your home is. In some areas, for example, premiums can rise drastically just from one street to another in the same neighborhood because of flooding or storm risks.
Other factors that will help determine the premium include the age of your home, how far it is from a fire station, the type of build you have, exactly how much coverage you have on the home, and the size of your deductible.
LIsts of Items Under the Premium
On your dec page, you may see a list of specific items under the premium. This list is telling you the types of coverage you have for different issues. The biggest item on this list is usually coverage of the dwelling itself or cost to rebuild.
You may also see coverage for other structures, like a garage or shed, coverage for personal property within the structure, medical coverage, and possibly coverage for “loss of use.” This last is coverage to pay for expenses if you should have to leave your home for a time while it’s being repaired or rebuilt.
The deductible is what you are required to pay whenever you file a claim. You will pay for repairs up to this amount, after which the insurance company will start paying up to the maximum on your policy coverage.
Your deductible could be a fixed amount, like $5,000, or it could be a percentage of the insured value. Depending on where you live, you might have a separate deductible for certain damage situations that might be more likely in your area, like hurricane damage.
Limit of Liability
This is essentially the maximum your insurer will ever be willing to pay for any one claim. If the Limit of Liability on your home is $500,000, then that’s all the company will ever pay under any circumstances. When you get your insurance policy, of course, it’s important that this number of high enough to actually allow you to rebuild or repair extensive damage or possibly the loss of the entire home.
Most dec pages will specify a couple of areas of coverage, and you will often see a different Limit of Liability amount for each part. Your dec page is a valuable way to see at a glance how much coverage you have for the various parts of your property. Here’s what you’ll typically see:
This section specifies how much the company will pay for the actual structure of your home itself. This usually also includes your roof and any appliances that are considered “built-in,” like an oil heater.
This section lists the company’s liability for covering any structure on your property that isn’t part of the main home. For most homes, this would be a garage, but it can also cover your shed, fence, pool, or a deck or patio area.
This section lists the limit of liability for covering things within your home that get damaged through a covered event. It’s important to know what events are covered and what are not. For example, flood insurance is often not part of standard homeowners insurance coverage and must be purchased separately.
If you didn’t get flood coverage, then damage to your washer and dryer in the basement due to a heavy rainstorm would likely not be covered. However, if you had a covered plumbing issue that caused the same type of water damage, then your washer and dryer would likely be covered under personal property.
Typically, this coverage will protect your furniture, clothing, any electronics your own, whatever appliances aren’t built into the home, and jewelry (though most insurance companies will want a separate policy or coverage if your electronics and jewelry are worth over a certain amount). So, for example, if a tree fell onto your kitchen, the refrigerator would be covered under your Personal Property section, while the counters would typically be covered by the Dwelling coverage.
Loss of Use
As explained above, this section covers you in case you’re not able to live in your home for a while because of damage. This would cover things like hotel expenses while you live elsewhere and possibly storage expenses for valuable items. In some cases, it might even provide you with some coverage for things like meals eaten out if you’re unable to use your kitchen.
If you, someone living in your home, or a pet are held to be liable for an injury to someone else, you may have coverage under your homeowners policy. This part of the dec page will explain how much coverage you have.
This section explains how much your insurer will cover for medical treatment to guests or visitors who are injured on your property. This is separate from the personal liability section and kicks in no matter who was at fault.
So, for example, if you have a vicious dog and someone is bitten, you could be held at fault, and Personal Liability would kick in. If you had warning signs up and someone trespassed on your property and was then bitten, it’s much less likely you would be held liable; however, the Medical Payments coverage could possibly still apply to cover medical treatment the injured person might need.
This section lists anything that you’ve added on to your coverage or that isn’t part of the standard coverage options. This section can allow for higher coverage on expensive items, flood insurance, or even identity theft protection.
You might also have coverage in case your household appliances break down or to cover replacing or repairing utility lines beneath the home or underground.
This section alerts you to which discounts were applied to your situation when the insurer figured your monthly premiums. It’s a good idea to be familiar with this part of the dec page, because if anything changes here, your premium could change or you might be obligated to contact the company.
Common discounts include having certain security or safety systems installed, like a centralized fire alarm, a home security system, or storm-proof windows. You might also get a discount for having been with the same company for a certain number of years (often known as a loyalty discount) or for bundling your car and homeowners insurance together. You could also get a discount if you’ve gone a certain number of years without making a claim.
Changes to the Declaration Page
Whenever you renew your homeowners insurance policy, you can expect to get a new declaration page. Be sure to keep your new dec page where you can easily access it because any changes could affect almost any item on the list above. Most homeowners insurance policies run for six to twelve months at a time and then have to be renewed.
If you have an automatic renewal set up for your insurance policy, you should still be on the lookout for a new dec page, even if you don’t think anything has changed. By reviewing this whenever your insurance renews, you can make sure no mistakes were made and ensure your coverage is seamless.
These days, most insurance companies give electronic access to the dec page, so signing into your account with the insurer will allow you to see and print off your newest dec page.
Using Your Declaration Page
As stated, the most common use for your dec page is a quick reference to understand your coverage, communicate with your insurer, or get the information your mortgage company might require. But the dec page is also a useful tool if you’re interested in changing policies.
For example, if you have coverage through a big national company, you might find better rates and more personalized service through someone who understands the local Miami area better and has offices you can actually visit in person.
You might also get better rates and coverage if you’re able to bundle your auto and home insurance. If you have a business, the best rates of all come from bundling home, auto, and commercial insurance into one.
Choosing Your Homeowners Insurance
Florida homeowners face unique challenges when it comes to getting quality insurance they can afford. Many of the national insurance companies are wary of Florida due to its reputation for storms, and they may not always understand what Floridian homeowners really need.
With offices in Kissimmee and Miami, Absolute Choice Insurance can offer personalized customer service by people who understand Florida, its homes, its weather—and its people! Since 2007, Absolute Choice has been offering the best in insurance for home, auto, and commercial needs to the people of Florida, and we’re a proud member of the Latin American Association of Independent Agents.
Get the Help You Need
Whether you’re looking for new coverage, want to change your coverage, or just want to understand your declaration page or other specifics a bit better, reach out to Absolute Choice Insurance today.