Many homeowners buy their insurance policy, read it over, then stick it in a drawer with other important documents until it’s needed again. The policy could sit in that drawer for years. Meanwhile, that policy may change as often as twice a year.

Most insureds are familiar with the declarations section of their policy: that is where you go to see the types of coverage you have, what your deductible is, and what your premium is. But what about the section containing any endorsements added to your policy. Endorsements are amendments to your original insurance contract that change the terms or scope of your original policy. Endorsements may add, delete, exclude, or otherwise change your coverage. You may notice an endorsement when you get your policy mid-term bill or renewal document in the mail. It’s important to note that not all endorsements need your acceptance or approval before being attached to your policy.

While it may seem like a common-sense thing to do, the best way to know how an endorsement changes your policy is to read the entire policy, read the document containing the endorsements, and compare the two. However, when most policies are over 30 pages and filled with insurance lingo, it’s not as attractive a read as the latest New York Times bestseller. If, perchance, you are inclined to cozy up with your insurance policy and a cup of tea, it’s important to first make sure you have a copy of your entire policy. Some insurance company online customer portals only provide the latest policy renewal or policy declarations page. For a copy of your current, complete policy, it’s always best to call your agent or your insurance company directly to request one. If you’re concerned an endorsement changes your coverage, call your agent immediately.