A standard home insurance policy is designed broadly, to cover common risks to the home and liability for its occupants. However, exclusions exist to define where protection stops. It insures the home and outbuildings as well as guarding the personal liability of the occupants, but limitations should be understood.
At the mention of flood insurance, most imagine a major event, something that makes headlines. However, flooding caused by rain, storm surge, tidal waters, and other sources can affect small areas just as easily. Even mud flow can be considered flooding. The vast majority of homeowners policies do not cover flood damage, simple as that. However, flood insurance is widely available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the ever-expanding private market.
Expert Tip: In a home insurance policy, flood is excluded as “water damage”, which can also include backups from a sewer system or drain. Coverage for these can easily be added to most home insurance policies simply by requesting it. Also excluded is damage caused by pressure from groundwater, such as to a foundation or swimming pool.
Earthquake and Sinkhole
Earthquakes and sinkholes are excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. Like flood insurance, this coverage can be purchased separately for an additional fee.
Because home insurance includes liability protection for the owners, insurance companies pay close attention to the kind of animals they keep at the house. Should those animals injure other people or damage their property, such liability is covered under most policies. If an owner’s dog bites a neighbor, homeowners insurance will protect them.
However, if an owner’s dog chews through their own home’s drywall or breaks through a fence, such repairs will not be covered. Notice the difference: if the animal hurts someone else or damages someone else’s property, that is covered. But if they injure one of the home’s occupants or damage the home itself, that is not covered.
Expert Tip: Due to the number of dog bite claims, some insurance companies will not quote homes with dogs of certain breeds, while others will exclude liability for dogs altogether. Ask your agent.
In the same way auto insurance does not pay for new tires, home insurance does not cover routine maintenance. Even roofing is meant to wear out. Thus, unless it is damaged in a storm, fire, or other one-time event, replacing a roof is the responsibility of the homeowner. In fact, home insurance companies expect owners to properly maintain a home and exclude damage caused by neglect. The following policy exclusions illustrate this fact:
Damage caused by
- Birds, vermin, rodents, insects, termites
- Wear and tear, marring, and deterioration
- Mechanical breakdown
- Rust, corrosion, and dry rot
- Frozen pipes, if the owner does not use reasonable care to maintain heat in the home
- Mold, fungus, and wet rot
Damage caused by war or nuclear hazards are excluded. Identity theft and related expenses are also not covered. Should these be of concern, most policies can be expanded (endorsed) to provide protection.
For any homeowners insurance questions, contact your Bankers Insurance agent. Not a client of ours? Let us compete for your business! Each of our clients is assigned a personal insurance agent and provided their email address as well as a phone number that rings right on their desk.