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Market Value vs Replacement Cost: What Is The Difference?

By Ian W Anderson

For those who have ever purchased a home, which requires Homeowners insurance, you may recognize that there is a difference between the amount you paid for the home and the actual amount of your basic coverage for the home, without belongings.

This is simply because you paid market value for your home while the insurance company used replacement cost value to estimate what the costs would be to rebuild your home. So what exactly is the difference between market value and replacement cost?

Market value is simply the price you paid for your home and most often insurance agencies do not give market value a second consideration because the real estate investment market can fluctuate so greatly.

If you look at a property in 2003 in your area, it may have sold for $100,000 but just three years later in 2006 it sold for $130,000. This has to do with the demand for homes in the area and the rising costs of real estate, but this doesn’t have anything to do with what the actual cost of rebuilding the home would be.

Homeowners insurance companies will always look at the cost of rebuilding the exact same home in the exact same location for a certain year. This is the definition of replacement cost. So, if you are purchasing homeowners insurance in an area where the market is through the roof and homeowners are paying triple or double the building value of the home, then your actual replacement cost and insurance coverage may be lower than the market value of the home.

If you live in an area where the market is not so great during that particular year, then what you paid for your home might be less than what the actual replacement cost of the home is for that year. This is essential to keep in mind when calling the insurance company, as many customers are confused or even upset at the differences in price that insurance companies want to charge for coverage.

Keep in mind when receiving estimations from the insurance company that many may give you replacement value insurance coverage costs as well as market value insurance coverage costs, but it is always best to take the replacement value insurance coverage since this is what will be needed to replace your home in the long run. You also want to remember that land value should not be included in the replacement cost assessment, so don’t let an insurance agent suggest otherwise.

Before speaking with an insurance agent, be sure to properly document the square footage of your home and each room, any special amenities that the home has including wood floors, marble or granite countertops, porches, decks or sunrooms, and basements.

The insurance company will also want to know major appliances that come with the purchase of the home, as well as the basics of the plumbing system, electrical systems and air conditioning/heating units that are installed. This can help them to assess how much it will cost to replace these items during the current year of your Homeowners insurance policy, so you won’t be left out in the dark!

Credit: Ian W Anderson of, the homeowners insurance information site. For more homeowners insurance information and articles like this one visit: Homeowners Insurance []

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