With homeowners insurance (or any insurance for that matter), you’re really paying for peace of mind – comfort in knowing that life’s curveballs won’t become insurmountable problems. However, those curveballs come in many shapes and sizes, and sometime they can exceed the limits of a standard homeowners policy.
Here are nine things that a standard policy may not cover. If you’re worried about any of these issues (or live in an at-risk area) it may be worth updating your coverage.
Note: Every insurance policy is different, so this list is by no means the final word. Check with your provider to confirm where your coverage stacks up before you begin making any changes.
Earthquake insurance almost always requires a separate policy. And while only a handful of U.S. states actually face a substantial earthquake threat, the potential damage caused by quakes is usually reason enough for at-risk homeowners to seek protection. Those who (wrongly) assume they’re covered by their homeowner policy are setting themselves up for a messy situation should disaster strike!
Trampolines and Tree Houses
Despite the good times they can bring, trampolines and tree houses also present safety risks (trampolines alone send over 80,000 people to emergency rooms each year), and you can be held liable for any personal or property damage these items cause. The extent to which insurance policies will cover trampolines and tree houses varies, ranging from no coverage at all to unlimited coverage. If you have a trampoline or tree house (or are considering either one), check your policy to see what’s covered.
Should a storm cause hail damage and flooding at your house, your policy may not cover the damage of either one. This is due to an insurance term known as “anti-concurrent causation,” which basically means that a combination of losses can declare your policy void. So, it’s best to scan your policy’s fine print and make sure dual catastrophes won’t jeopardize your coverage.
Homeowners insurance covers you on three fronts: damage or theft of your things, damage to your home and related structures (like a pool) and liability protection if someone sues you (which, when it comes to swimming pools, often presents the greatest danger). If you have a pool, you'll probably need to increase your policy's coverage, tailoring each of these “fronts” to best support your unique swimming situation.
While an attack by man’s best friend may seem unlikely, keep in mind that insurance companies pay over $300 million per year to cover dog-related injuries. As a result, they’ve become more cautious and outline very specific limitations (if your homeowner policy even covers dogs). If you have a dog, be clear on your pup’s protection.
Vandalism When Vacant
If you abandon your property for 30 days or more, any vandalism or “malicious mischief” that occurs is then considered the result of negligence and is no longer covered. If you need to leave your house empty for an extended period of time, it’s worth looking into add-on coverage to make sure you’re fully protected.
Standard home insurance policies do not cover flooding that is an “act of nature.” To protect your home from Mother Nature’s wrath, you need to purchase standalone flood coverage through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Remember, anywhere it rains, it can flood (around 20 percent of flood insurance claims occur in moderate-to-low-risk zones) so it’s best to be prepared! To get an estimate for the cost of flood insurance in your area, visit FloodSmart.gov.
If you keep an emergency cash stash in your home, you could be at risk of losing it for good if it’s stolen. Not only is cash a burglar magnet, but most homeowners insurance policies don’t typically cover more than $200 of cash.
Jewelry, Fine Art or Collectibles
While standard home insurance policies will cover some of your personal property, there is a limit to the amount your provider will pay. Basic coverage rarely accounts for items with high price tags or sentimental value. To be safe, insure your wedding ring and Babe Ruth baseball collection separately.