Home Replacement Cost

Replacement Cost vs. Market Value —
Home Insurance Valuations

My home is only worth $120,000. Why does my insurance company want me to insure it for $275,000?

One of the biggest questions consumers have regarding Kansas homeowners insurance revolves around the amount of insurance to place on their dwelling (home). When purchasing a house, the mortgage company requires the homeowner to obtain insurance prior to closing. Most consumers assume the amount of dwelling coverage will be equal to the amount they paid for their house. This is incorrect in some cases.

There are different methods to determine the value of a house. Market value is the price paid for your house. Replacement cost is the amount it will cost to rebuild your house in the same spot, same size and same quality of construction, at today's costs. Insurance companies use the replacement cost valuation, which can be a completely different number from the price paid for the house.

For example, a home purchased in a depressed city neighborhood may have a market value of $120,000. The exact same house located in a nice suburb may have a market price of $285,000. However, the cost to rebuild the house after a loss would be the same in either location. The insurance company is looking to insure the home for the full replacement value, not the current market value. Remember, they are going to pay to build you a new home, not buy one for you down the street.

Home in a
Home in a
Square footage2,5002,500
Year built19201920
Market value$285,000$120,000
Cost to replace/rebuild home$275,000$275,000

For insurance purposes, you should insure your home to 100% of its replacement cost. This will ensure the ability to rebuild the entire house, the way it is now, in the event of a total loss. One thing to remember: You're not insuring the land, so leave this out of the replacement cost valuation of the dwelling.

We encourage you to call us so we can explain in detail what the replacement cost is on your home. Some of the items that are considered in calculating replacement cost are: square footage, age of home, type of home, quality of construction, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, basement, fireplaces, etc. Most insurance companies use a formula supplied to them by a Marshall & Swift to generate the correct replacement cost. The amount of dwelling coverage should correspond to the calculated replacement cost. After a claim occurs is not the time to find out your insurance is not adequate. Having 100% replacement cost on the dwelling takes away this possibility.

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