Insurance
In this chapter, you’ll find information on different types of insurance, including homeowners, auto and medical, as well as practical tips on reading policies and shopping for coverage. As you organize your relocation to the Chicagoland area, it’s also a good idea to review your family’s insurance needs. For your home, you’re probably planning to purchase new home furnishings, appliances and other equipment that should be noted in your updated home inventory. If you’ll be commuting to and from the office each day, you’ll need to know how many miles you’ll be driving. Keep handy copies of previous auto, home and health policies for easy reference when completing new insurance applications—it will save you time and aggravation.

INSURANCE IN ILLINOIS
In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Insurance regulates insurance for the state. Online at www.insurance.illinois.gov, consumers can find information and names of licensed insurance providers that must abide by Illinois insurance laws. Call the Consumer Assistance Hotline toll-free at (866) 445-5364 for general insurance questions and provider inquiries. When dealing with insurance complaints, consumers may contact the department’s Chicago consumer service branch directly Monday to Friday at (312) 814-2427.

QUICK TIPS TO HELP YOU SELECT INSURANCE COVERAGE
Following are tips to assist you with all of your insurance shopping needs:
  • Get price quotes from several companies. Compare the rates and coverages. TDI publishes auto and homeowners price comparisons that can help you compare sample rates. The price comparisons include annual price estimates for sample policies and information about a company’s complaint record and financial strength.
  • Include independent agents. Some agents only represent a single company or company group. Independent agents typically represent several companies and can give you multiple quotes at one time.
  • Determine what coverages you want and need. For instance, if you have valuable car stereo equipment or if you need more than basic residential coverage for jewelry, collections or other valuables, you may need endorsements that change or add coverage. Endorsements that add coverage will raise your premium.
  • Answer questions truthfully. When you apply for insurance or ask for a rate quote, wrong information may result in an incorrect price quote, rejection of your insurance application or cancellation of your policy.
  • Consider higher deductibles. Your policy probably will have deductibles, which are amounts you have to pay out of pocket on your claim before the insurance company pays. The higher your deductibles, the lower your premium. Choose the highest deductibles you can afford.
  • Ask about discounts. Insurance companies may offer policy discounts that will lower your premium. Ask your agent what discounts the company offers.
  • Make sure you have uninterrupted coverage. Never cancel an existing policy until you get your new policy or a written “binder.” A binder proves you have coverage until the company issues your policy.
  • Don’t pay cash to an individual agent. Pay with a personal check or money order made out to the insurance company or agency. Get a receipt for your premium payment.
  • If a company turns you down, keep shopping. Different companies have different criteria for accepting customers.

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
When relocating to the Chicago region, one thing you don’t want to delay on is purchasing homeowners insurance for your new home. The insurance covers both damage to property and liability or legal responsibility for any injuries and property damage you or your families cause to other people. Homeowners insurance not only protects your assets, it’s also usually a requirement for securing a mortgage. The risk to lender of an uninsured home is too great; therefore, many may not lend to you or may require you to pay a higher premium until you acquire homeowners insurance.

— Make Sure Your Coverage Fits Your Needs
Insurance companies may sell several types of homeowners policies in Illinois, each with a different level of coverage. A homeowner’s policy typically contains a combination of coverages. According to the Illinois Department of Insurance (IDI), the main types of coverage include the following:
  • Dwelling. This coverage pays for damage to your house and to structures attached to your house. This includes damage to fixtures like plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and permanently installed air-conditioning systems.
  • Other Structures. This pays for damage to fences, tool sheds, freestanding garages, guest cottages and other structures not attached to your house.
  • Personal Property. This reimburses you for the value of your possessions, including furniture, electronics, appliances and clothing, that are damaged even when they are not on your property, for example at an off-site storage locker or with your child at college.
  • Loss of Use. This pays some of your additional living expenses while your home is being repaired.
  • Personal Liability. This covers your financial loss if you are sued and found legally responsible for injuries or damages to someone else.
  • Medical Payments. This pays medical bills for people hurt on your property or hurt by your pets.

IDI advises that you purchase enough coverage to avoid a major financial loss if your home is badly damaged or destroyed. This means keeping a realistic dollar amount of coverage on your house. Also, it means that you should insure your home’s “replacement cost,” not its market value. The market value may be higher or lower than the cost to rebuild your home depending on the real estate market. If you have replacement-cost coverage and your house is destroyed, you can rebuild your home on the same lot at current local construction costs.

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