When strong storm roars through, you may find your siding damaged by hail and shingles that the wind ripped off the roof.
Your homeowner’s insurance policy will be one of the first things you to find. But do you really know what is covered by homeowners’ insurance and what isn’t?
The only way to know for sure is to read the entire policy carefully. Coverage varies from state to state. For instance, depending on where you live, your insurance may not cover damage caused by flood and earthquakes. This is typically is not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
As you read through your policy, take note of what it does and doesn’t include.
Homeowners insurance is a form of property insurance that covers losses and damages to an individual’s house and assets in the home. The policy usually covers interior damage, exterior damage, loss or damage of personal assets, and injury that arises while on the property.
The policy will probably list specific “perils” that it covers. Common perils include:
- Severe weather, including wind and hail
- Accidental fire and smoke damage
- Sudden and accidental water damage (not flooding, seepage, or damage that has built up over time)
- Roof damage from the weight of snow or ice
- Damage from cars or airplanes
Insurers will limit coverage for your dwelling and structures to “replacement value” or “fair market value.” Replacement value is what it would cost to return the house to its condition prior to the damage.
Possessions that aren’t part of the house itself, such as furniture, rugs, and pictures, are considered “personal property.” Most homeowner’s insurance policies will cover theft of personal property. The policy will define the limits in value. If you have very valuable things such as jewelry or electronics, you might have to insure them separately. These would be on a special “schedule” for an additional fee.
Liability and Medical Bills
If you accidentally hurt someone or damage someone else’s property and they sue you, liability coverage may pay. If a guest hurts themselves on your property, liability coverage may pay for that, too. Your policy may pay for medical bills associated with a guest’s injury regardless of who is at fault. Again, the policy will define limits: the policy won’t pay more than it spells out in writing.
What Homeowner’s Insurance Usually Doesn’t Cover
Insurance is meant to pay for accidental and unexpected loss. It won’t pay for intentional damage. It won’t pay if you fail to maintain your home. If you neglect a leaking pipe and allow the damage to keep getting worse, your insurance won’t cover it.
Other typical exclusions are:
- Earth movement (such as earthquakes or landslides)
- Water damage from floods, seepage, or sewer backups, or mold that builds up over time
- Damage from pests such as birds, vermin, or insects
- Damage your pet causes
- Loss from ordinances or laws (such as if your local government requires you to tear down, rebuild, or upgrade your home) or other government action
- Nuclear hazard
- Risky things such as pools, trampolines, and aggressive pets. You might be able to buy additional insurance to cover the risks of these items, but probably at considerable extra cost.
Help with Homeowner’s Insurance Claims
We work with insurance companies to represent our customers’ interests. We properly document and record the storm damage, and then provide the paperwork to file a claim. Simply put, we take some of the confusion out of implementing your homeowner’s insurance policy at a very stressful time.
If you own your house, having it insured is the best way to cover yourself against any catastrophe that might happen to and on the property. Read your policy carefully. Your home and your financial future may depend on it.
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