Preparing your home for disasters


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Most of us have a pretty good idea what our house is worth, but most of us don't have any idea what it would cost to rebuild. That is not good.

If your home burns, would you be fully insured? It is estimated 60 percent of the homes in America are under insured.

"I knew the value of my home, the real estate value, but that has nothing to do with the cost of rebuilding," said Henry Baum from Livermore.

Most homeowners policies don't have much to do with the actual rebuilding cost either.

"The traditional policies guaranteed replacement cost policies have been junked, there are no more of those policies," said writer Peter Gosselin.

Gosselin he wrote the book "High Wire: The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families."

He says this isn't your father's homeowners insurance.

"Now the home may not be covered, it is only covered up to a certain dollar amount and a little bit more. Problem is you have to pick that dollar amount. You have to know the cost of plywood costs in San Francisco. You have got to know how much carpenters and plumbers make," said Gosselin.

True enough, which left Baum with a lot of work ahead of him, beginning with a trip down to /*Home Depot*/.

"Going through and trying to price tile and carpeting and drywall and trying to come up with some estimate of what it would cost to rebuild your home," said Baum.

But then he found this website: .

Spend $7.95 and about 15 minutes, and you'll know how much insurance you need.

"You don't need to know anything but sizes, roughly, rough estimates this room is 12x10, this room is 12x18," said Baum.

The site walks you through your house asking questions like is there a crawl space, a garage, brick siding.

"At the end what they get is an estimate that is tailored to their zip code giving them the amount of replacement cost insurance that they need to make sure they have," said spokesman Arun Baheti.

He says AccuCoverage figures out rebuilding costs for every zip code in America.

"We have got guys who sit and call around to home improvement stores and hardware stores and lumber mills finding out price of a 2x4, the cost of copper plumbing. The price of a plumber to put in the copper plumbing, we call the union halls around the country as well," said Baheti.

Henry found his home was vastly under insured.

"Don't rely on your insurance agent, don't rely on your neighbor or coworkers to know what your house is worth. It is up to you to know," said Baum.

"And then go and try to go convince your insurance agent to give you an adequate amount and you'll get a fight. They won't want to do it, but get it done," said Gosselin.

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