What Can You Claim on Your Home Insurance?
Homeowners insurance is one of the most common and the most misunderstood types of insurance, with many policyholders underestimating and even overestimating the extent of their coverage. No one expects you to research home insurance coverage in advance and they certainly don’t expect you to read through your insurance policy in full.
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Fortunately, you may not have to, because in this guide, we’ll outline the things that you may and may not be covered for.
A survey conducted over a decade ago found that nearly a third of homeowners believed their policy covered them for flood damage. However, this is an optional extra offered by specialist companies and it’s not something you’ll find on the average homeowners policy.
It’s not the only thing, either. Your home insurance policy won’t cover you for damage resulting from an earthquake and it may not cover you for a windstorm, either. You can get cover for these natural disasters, but you’ll need to pay extra and if you live in a high-risk area, flood insurance alone can set you back as much as $700 a year.
On top of traditional policy costs, that’s a lot to pay.
The good news is that many other disasters are covered. If snow sits on your roof for a long time and causes the roof to sink or break, your policy will cover you. Your insurer may also cover you for damage caused by bad weather. What’s more, while you’re not covered for floods, you are covered for water damage if that damage occurs as a result of a burst pipe.
Generally, if something serious happens to the exterior or interior of your house, whether it’s a burst pipe, damage to your decking or yard, or broken tiles or windows, you may be covered, but there are many exceptions, including storms, floods, earthquakes, and even neglect, and you should never assume that you’re covered.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the most comprehensive home insurance cover concerned property damage, but in actual fact, and as discussed above, this is where you’ll find the most exceptions. Personal liability cover, however, is much more extensive and often covers more than the average homeowner realizes.
Your homeowner insurance covers you for dog bites, cat scratches, falling objects, and pretty much any other liability claim that involves your property.
If someone comes onto your property, injuries themselves and then sues you, your policy may cover some of the resulting legal and medical expenses. The same is true if you have an accident in someone else’s home or outside your home.
The US has gone lawsuit crazy in the last few years, with a number of specialized personal injury lawyers catering purely for dog bites and other animal attacks. A lot of this results from the fact that many homeowners now have a greater amount of coverage for liability.
In fact, depending on your type of policy, you may be covered for up to $300,000 of legal and medical expenses.
Personal Property Cover
Your personal possessions should be covered against loss, damage, and theft, which you probably know already as this constitutes the most common insurance claims. However, what you might not know is that those insurance premiums cover everyone in your household even if they aren’t in the house at the time.
For instance, if your child is at school or away at college, providing they are staying on campus, they should be covered by your personal property insurance. However, if they are living off-campus, the cover may not extend to them and they may need renters insurance.
Personal property should cover you in all cases of theft, but it will only cover damage if it falls under a “covered peril” or “covered loss”. There is also a limit to the amount covered by personal property insurance. For instance, your policy limits may provide cover for stolen jewelry or collectibles, only to limit the amount of cover provided to just $1,000. That’s enough to cover most homeowners, but not if you have a large and valuable collection.
Other Coverages Provided by Your Homeowners Insurance Policy
For more information on what you home insurance policy covers, contact your insurance provider or insurance agent. If you have a standard policy, you will likely be protected for all the things discussed above, but this changes from state to state and policy to policy.
Some of the additional coverage provided by many policies includes food spoilage. This often has a coverage limit of $500 and can occur when power outages shut down your refrigeration and spoil the food inside. You should be covered for vandalism as well, and this is true whether it occurs inside or outside your home.
Your policy can also cover you for additional costs and living expenses resulting from serious damage to your home. For example, if your roof is destroyed or a burst pipe renders your house temporarily uninhabitable, your insurer may pay for temporary accommodation in a nearby hotel.
What Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Won’t Cover
In addition to floods and earthquakes, your policy will not cover you in the event of war, rioting, and most pest related issues. There may be exceptions if these issues result in the loss of use of covered items, as per your personal property coverage, but for the most part, you will not be covered for these issues.
As eluded to above, your insurance will not cover you if the damage was the result of neglect. If, for instance, there is a gradual leak that eventually results in a burst pipe or your home is poorly maintained and this causes serious damage to the property or your personal belongings, your policy won’t cover you.
In any case, if you have an issue and experience damage to your home, yourself, your loved ones or any of your property, or a liability lawsuit has been filed against you, we recommend contacting your insurance company to discover what your policy covers.
It doesn’t hurt to ask, and your insurer will give you a detailed rundown of what your homeowners insurance covers.