CONSUMER REPORTS: Smarter home insurance

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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.

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

His wife Deb adds, "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."

Big-ticket items like a tree falling on your house usually are covered by home insurance.

What you may not know -- a lot of quirky events like damage from a drone may also be covered.

Another example? You could get as much as $5000 in insurance if vandals damage a family headstone.

Or what if your dog damages property or bites someone? Might depend on the breed, but that could be covered, too.

Be aware your property is also likely to be covered when it's not in your home -- for instance in a child's dorm room or in your car.

Margot Gilman with Consumer Reports says, "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."

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.

Keep in mind though, that each policy is unique making it difficult to predict if your premium will stay the same after a claim.
And another common warning: making too many claims in a short time may cause the insurance company not to renew your policy.

And, if you need flood insurance or are in an earthquake or hurricane prone area, you will probably need to get separate policies to cover that kind of damage.