Wisconsin experiences rough storm seasons and state residents can experience tornadoes, hail and heavy winds. As a homeowner, you need an insurance policy that will protect your house in case of a storm, even though the state doesn't legally require you to buy a policy.
Most mortgage lenders require you to insure your home for the amount of the mortgage. This does not, however, cover your personal property or the actual cost of replacing your home. Homeowners should carefully consider what dollar amount they want their policy to cover. Some minimums to consider are:
- The required minimum value established by the lender.
- The amount it would cost to rebuild your home.
- The actual value of your home (which may be less than the cost to rebuild because of possible depreciation over time).
Choose a deductible – the out of pocket expense in the event of a claim – that suits your budget and how much you can afford to pay if disaster strikes. Most areas in Wisconsin are high risk for tornadoes, so choosing a lower deductible may make sense.
Comparing Wisconsin Home Insurance Rates
You should research your options before buying a home insurance policy in Wisconsin. Some areas require more coverage than others and it's possible to get a discount for being in a low risk area. You may also be able to get lower insurance premiums based on your roofing materials, the age of your home, and where the house is located. For example, most insurance agencies will give a discount to anyone who lives near a fire department. Some counties also have a higher tornado risk, which may raise your premium.
Insurance companies offer different premiums based on specific risks. This means that one insurance company may offer you a better deal simply because it does not consider a risk factor as a concern and another company does. Factors that affect your premiums may include:
- Smokers living in the home.
- Dangerous dogs or pets.
- Building materials that are not impact or fire resistant (roofing, siding).
- Age of your home.
- Size of the home.
- Presence of home security systems.
- Proximity to a fire hydrant or fire station.
Many insurance companies offer discounts if you install a burglar alarm. Others offer discounts if you don’t smoke, or if you install extra fire and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
It’s also a good idea to consider how the home insurance company would respond in the event of a claim. Does the company allow you to renew your policy after you file a claim? Does the policy cover debris removal in case of a tornado or storm? Does the company include food and supplies in case of a disaster as part of its coverage? Consider the exact risks for your area before you choose a home insurance plan.
Preparing for Tornado Season
Most of Wisconsin falls in a zone 3 tornado region. Tornadoes in the area can reach speeds of 200 mph or more. Most counties have had at least one tornado touch down within the past 50 years with 38 tornadoes touching down in 2011 alone. Certain precautions you can take to minimize damage can also lower your insurance premiums if done correctly.
- Install storm shutters to protect glass.
- Keep an emergency kit in a safe location (include bottled water and non-perishable food).
- Consider installing metal or asphalt roofing.
- Create a tornado plan.
- Find a nearby tornado shelter.
Ready Wisconsin provides information on getting insurance and help for disasters. Part of the site's function is to hand out kits and emergency supplies. The website also suggests that you purchase a battery powered weather radio so that you can listen in to the weather when your electricity is out.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wisconsin Home Insurance
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about Wisconsin home insurance.
1. Is flood insurance necessary?
Flood insurance is not required but it’s useful to have. Because your home insurance policy likely will not cover flooding, you may have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy if you live in a risk zone. You can check to see if your area is at risk to floods at FloodSmart.gov and also search flood insurance policy options in your area.
2. How do dogs increase insurance premiums?
Dogs are often a cause of liability payouts because of dog bites, so owning one may increase your premiums. Some insurance companies even refuse insurance to people who own dangerous dogs such as Pit bulls, Rottweilers and Doberman pinschers.
3. Can home improvements result in policy discounts?
If you are planning to upgrade your home for insurance discounts, ask your insurance provider first. Not every insurance company will discount based on upgrades, so it is always important to ask. Some companies will also have suggestions on which providers or materials to use.
How to Get Great Rates on Wisconsin Home Insurance
Has it been a while since you shopped for homeowner’s insurance? Is so, loyalty doesn’t always pay because prices vary from insurer to insurer. Another company may offer you a much better deal. Looking for home or renter’s insurance quotes? insuranceQuotes.com can help you find the best homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy at the best price. Every year, we match 15 million consumers to the nation’s biggest home insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm and Farmers.
Wisconsin Home Insurance Resources
WI Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
Laws and consumer information regarding Wisconsin insurance
WI Dept of Transportation: Drivers and Vehicles
A resource site offering tools and information for Pennsylvania drivers
Workers’ Compensation in Wisconsin
A guide to workers’ compensation insurance in the state of Wisconsin