What Is a Homeowners Insurance Deductible?

Your deductible is a major part of homeowners insurance. How high or low you set it can affect your rates. Find out how they work here.
Home insurance form for homeowners and model of home.

Deductibles are a key part of homeowners insurance. And while they can seem a little tricky at first, they’re pretty simple. If you know all about deductibles and how they work, you may be able to save lots of money on your home insurance.

The deductible you choose can affect how much you pay for homeowners insurance. And it also impacts how much money you’ll end up parting with if you need to file a claim. That’s why you must select the right deductible for your financial situation.

This article will explain the essentials of homeowners insurance deductibles. This includes what they are and how they work. We’ll also break down the different types of deductibles, as well as how to choose the right one for you. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about home insurance deductibles.

What is an Insurance Deductible?

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay before your insurance covers the remainder of the repairs or losses. You’ll need to pay your deductible when you file a claim with your insurance company. You’ll file a claim when something causes loss or damage to your property.

You need to select your deductible when you set up your policy. You’ll agree with your insurance provider on either an amount of money or a percentage that you’ll need to pay in case of an incident. When you set your deductible, you’ll have to think about how much money you’d be willing to pay in an emergency.

Deductibles exist so that you and your home insurer both pay money if an accident occurs. Your insurance rates will reflect the amount of financial risk you assume with your deductible. For example, most companies will give you lower rates if you have a higher deductible. This is because you agree to pay more money if you file a claim. But having a lower deductible will likely give you higher rates. The reason for this is that your insurer must pay more money and, therefore, deal with more risk.

How Do Deductibles Work?

In home insurance, your deductible could work one of two ways. You typically must choose between either a flat or a percentage deductible. Here’s a definition of both types and an example of how each works:

Flat Deductible

The flat (or dollar-amount) deductible is a set amount of money that you agree with your insurer to pay if an accident happens. This means that you’ll pay the exact dollar amount you agreed to in your policy if something happens to your house that requires you to file a claim.

As an example, imagine that you have a deductible of $1,000. Suddenly, a terrible storm rolls through and damages your roof, causing you to file a claim. If the repairs for your roof were going to cost $10,000, you’d have to pay $1,000. Once you pay your deductible, your home insurance company would cover the rest of the money to fix your roof.

Percentage Deductible

Another type of deductible in home insurance is the percentage-based deductible. With a percentage deductible, your deductible would be a certain percentage of your home’s insured value, or the total amount of insurance on your policy.

For instance, let’s assume you’ve insured your home for $200,000 and you have a deductible of 2%. If this were the case, then you’d have to pay $4,000 each time you make a claim. If your home needed $10,000 worth of repairs, you’d have to pay $4,000 and your insurer would pay the leftover $6,000.

What is a Disaster Deductible?

If you live in a state prone to natural disasters, you may have to pay a disaster deductible. A disaster deductible is separate from the regular deductible on your policy that you pay for more common causes of damage or loss.

You typically need to pay a disaster deductible if your insurer determines that a certain trigger caused the damage to your home. Each trigger comes with unique rules and requirements. The two most common triggers are hurricanes and wind/hail:

Hurricane Deductibles

If you live in a state at risk of hurricanes, you may need to pay a hurricane deductible. This is only the case if you file a claim, and your home insurance company decides that a hurricane was what damaged your home. Per the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurers look at certain triggers to know when a hurricane is in effect. These include when the National Weather Service (NWS):

  • Gives a name, such as “Katrina,” to a hurricane
  • Puts a storm warning or official hurricane watch into place
  • Describes things about a hurricane such as its intensity or speed

Keep in mind that triggers can vary by insurance company or even by which state you live in. Be sure to check with your insurance provider to see which triggers it looks at.

You can usually expect a hurricane deductible to be percentage-based. This means that you’d pay a percentage of the total amount of insurance on your policy if you make any claims. You may be able to pay a flat dollar-amount deductible in some cases, but you can expect to pay much more for insurance. However, the III also notes that some states, especially those in “high-risk coastal areas,” may require percentage deductibles.

Wind or Hail Deductibles

You may also need to pay a special wind/hail deductible if your state is at risk of hail or windstorms. This is usually the case in hail valley states such as Wyoming, or tornado alley states like Kansas. The wind/hail deductible is very similar to the hurricane deductible in that it usually appears as a certain percentage of your insurance policy’s limits.

High vs. Low Deductibles

The type of deductible you choose and how high you decide to set it is completely up to you. It largely depends on your personal and financial situation. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure out how high you should set your home insurance deductible:

How Much Can I Pay After an Incident?

Bad things can happen at any time. Storms, theft, and natural disasters don’t care about the money in your bank account or how high your deductible is. Consider asking yourself how much money you feel comfortable spending when an incident occurs. If you have a flat deductible that’s $5,000, you’ll need to pay that any time you decide to file a claim. This could work for some people, but it could be far too much for others.

It’s a good idea to think about things such as your monthly expenses, income, and how much you can afford to save. If you can set aside a good amount of emergency money, you might want to get a higher deductible. This could give you a drastically lower insurance premium from most companies. But if you can’t afford to shell out for a crisis, it’s probably best to have a lower deductible.

Do You Live in a Risky Area?

You may think about getting a low deductible if you live in an area where crime or disasters are more frequent. This could protect you from having to spend a lot of money whenever you need to make an insurance claim.

On the other hand, consider a high deductible if you live in an area with less of a risk of regular accidents or threats. This could help you save on your home insurance. Just remember that having a higher deductible means more financial risk if something unexpected happens.

Do You Want Lower Home Insurance Rates?

There are trade-offs with having either a high or low homeowners insurance deductible. As mentioned, a higher deductible can reduce how much you pay for home insurance. But you’ll have to pay more if you file a claim. With a lower deductible, you’ll pay less each time you need to file, but you’ll likely pay more for insurance.

You’ll have to decide what’s most important for your situation. Would you prefer higher rates but lower financial risk? Or would you prefer lower rates but higher financial risk? These are important things to think about before you choose your home insurance deductible.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a homeowners insurance deductible?

A: A deductible refers to the amount of money you must pay before your home insurance company covers the rest. You can choose to set a high or low deductible. It’ll just depend on your situation.

Q: What is a good deductible for homeowners insurance?

A: The best deductible to choose for your home insurance is the one that benefits your situation the most. Think about how much you have saved up and are willing to pay or how much you’d like to pay for insurance.

It’s not uncommon for people to choose a deductible of $1,000. This is because it gives you enough risk to potentially lower your rates, but not enough to set you back months of income.

Q: Is it better to have a high or low homeowners insurance deductible?

A: There are pros and cons for setting either a high or low deductible. A high deductible can help you save on home insurance, but it means you’ll have to pay more when you file a claim. A low deductible can protect you from breaking the bank when an accident occurs, but you’ll undoubtedly have to pay more for coverage. Whether each one is better just depends on what you value most, having lower rates or having less financial risk.

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