Homeowners insurance is a must-have for anyone who owns a home. It can help you pay for damages for everything ranging from fire to theft. However, it is equally vital for you to understand what is in your policy and what is and isn’t covered. Homeowners insurance policies can vary from provider to provider, but there are certain things almost all policies will cover and things they won’t.
Your homeowners insurance should cover a wide range of damages that could happen to your home, property, and belongings. Most basic homeowners insurances policies have six types of coverage:
- Dwelling: Your home and any attached structure, like a garage or deck.
- Other structures: Buildings on your property like detached garages, sheds, and gazebos.
- Personal property: Belongings such as electronics, furniture, and clothing.
- Loss of use: Living expenses for temporary housing if your home becomes uninhabitable.
- Medical payments: Medical coverage for guests injured on your property.
- Personal liability: Damages resulting from injury or harm to personal property.
Your coverage for your home, other structures, and personal property will either cover open or named perils. Open perils refer to anything not explicitly excluded in your policy. Named perils are specific incidents detailed in your policy, which can include:
- Fire or lightning
- Falling objects
- Volcanic eruption
- Windstorm or hail
- Vehicle damage
- Aircraft damage
- Civil unrest
- Sudden, accidental tearing, burning, bulging, or cracking
- Sudden, unintentional water overflow
- Damage by short-circuiting
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
You may see a mix of open and named perils in your coverage, with the dwelling and other structures covering open perils and the personal property covering named perils.
Remember that you’ll need to pay your deductible before your benefits kick in, and the amount of the deductible ranges from policy to policy. There is also a limit on your policy, which is the maximum amount your policy will pay to cover your loss.
What Isn’t Covered
As helpful as your homeowners insurance policy can be, it may not be able to help you with certain natural disasters or home damages. Remember that policies can vary, so always read the fine print before you purchase a policy.
A standard policy won’t cover damage from flooding to your home and personal property, but you can buy separate flood insurance. If you live in a flood zone, your mortgage lender may require you to have flood insurance.
A standard policy does not typically cover damages from events such as earthquakes, landslides, or sinkholes. Some insurance providers have optional policies for earthquakes and landslides. Areas that are high risk for sinkholes, like Florida, require insurance providers to offer optional coverage for this event.
A standard homeowners insurance policy may cover wind damages from a hurricane, but if you live in a high-risk coastal state, like Louisiana or Florida, you may be required to buy additional windstorm coverage. Your policy might not cover water damage from a hurricane; this will be considered flood damage.
If animals like termites, bedbugs, birds, or mice cause damage to your home, it may not be covered, as this is considered preventable with proper home maintenance. However, some exceptions might be covered, including:
- If a covered event, such as a tree falling on your roof, causes the infestation.
- If the infestation causes a covered problem, such as a rodent chewing through an electrical wire that starts a fire.
Mold and rot
This will often come down to the cause of the mold or rot. If it occurs due to a lack of home maintenance, it will likely not be covered. However, some companies will cover mold removal with limitations, such as a covered event like a burst pipe causing the mold.
Plumbing and sewage
While a home insurance policy may cover damages from the event, it typically will not cover the repair or replacement of a burst pipe. Your policy will also not cover backs ups or overflows from sewer lines, drains, or sump pumps, although some insurance providers have optional coverage for these events.
Some insurance companies won’t write policies for homeowners who own a particular breed of dog. There are also other extreme situations not covered, including occurrences of war or nuclear hazards.
It is essential to understand what and how much is covered in your home insurance policy. If you’re unsure of how much coverage you have, contact your insurance provider, and update your policy. It’s always better to have sufficient coverage than not enough.