Consumer Reports: Smarter uses for home insurance

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Most people don't think about their homeowners insurance until disaster strikes. But that's a mistake. (WPVI)

Most people don't think about their homeowners insurance until disaster strikes. But that's a mistake.

If you haven't reviewed your home insurance lately, you run the risk of leaving money on the table. There are some new twists to homeowners insurance that can provide better coverage and save you money.

The Gaglianos are looking for a house to buy. They know a lot of their savings will be tied up in it and they worry about protecting that.

"Your home is your biggest investment," said Tim Gagliano.

"You really just want to make sure that you're prepared for the unexpected things that can happen. Fires and floods and trees coming down in your pool," said Deb Gagliano.

Most people know that expensive problems, like a tree falling on your house, usually are covered by home insurance.

What you may not know is that a lot of quirky and sometimes smaller events may also be covered.

For instance, your homeowner's may cover damage from a drone.

And you could get as much as $5,000 in insurance money if vandals damage a family headstone.

If your dog damages property or bites someone, it might depend on the breed, but that could be covered, too.

Also be aware, your property is likely to be covered when it's not in your home. For instance, if it's in a child's dorm room or in your car.

"One caution: many people pay for smaller losses themselves because they worry that their premiums will go up if they make a claim. But according to a survey of our readers that doesn't happen all the time," said Margot Gilman from Consumer Reports.

Of the 2500 survey respondents whose claim was less than 5 thousand dollars, more than half did not see a premium increase. So you might consider filing for smaller losses like minor roof or tree damage.

But keep in mind, each policy is unique so it can be difficult to predict if your premium will stay the same after a claim.

And making too many claims in a short time may cause your insurance company not to renew your policy.

Finally, if you need flood insurance you'll probably need to get a separate policy.

To read the full report from Consumer Reports, CLICK HERE.

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