Homeowner’s Insurance: What Might not Be Covered under a Standard Policy

When you purchase a home and insurance to go with it, you can generally expect that certain things will be covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, should your house catch fire, the policy will most likely cover the current value of the home as well as a certain amount for items in the home (although you should document serial numbers and such to ensure maximum coverage in this area). Or if a car were to plow through your living room, your policy would pay for that portion of your home to be rebuilt. And many acts of nature (storms, falling trees, etc.) are covered, as are acts of vandalism and theft, in most cases. The policy may even cover living expenses if you are forced to leave the home during renovations resulting from covered damages. However, there are several things you might think would be covered that often are not (barring additional policies). Here are a few you’ll want to know about.

Let’s start with structural damage to the home. Although many types of damage are covered by the standard homeowner’s insurance policy, there are also several that will require you to purchase additional coverage. For example, fire is covered, but flooding is not. In areas where flooding is rare, this isn’t much of a problem. But if you happen to live in a geographic region that commonly suffers from seasonal storms and attendant flooding, mudslides, and so on, it’s in your best interest to add this coverage to your policy. And you should consider what other types of natural disasters affect your area, as well, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, or blizzards. Many are not covered by the typical policy and will need to be added if they are common occurrences.

Next you need to consider items in and around your home. While property inside your home is covered to some extent in cases where theft or any covered damages occur, you should know that there are strict limits. You’ll want to check with your policy provider to find out what these limits are and what information you need to provide up front in order to take advantage of them down the line. However, you should also secure additional coverage for items like jewelry, silverware, firearms, and other valuable possessions that may be worth more than a standard policy provides for.

Finally, it’s important to understand the extent of your personal liability coverage, which pertains to situations in which family members or visitors experience accident or injury on your property. In most cases your policy will cover medical and/or legal expenses for visitors and named family members should they fall down the stairs, slip on a wet floor, or even get bit by your dog (although many policies are starting to drop this coverage, at least if you own certain breeds). However, there may be limitations and you need to know what they are so that you can purchase additional coverage should you so desire. It’s also important to note that homeowners insurance in Florida, California, New York, and every other state may differ in terms of “standard” coverage. So a move from one state to another could impact the type of coverage you receive. Just read the policy and ask questions; it’s the best way to ensure you have the coverage you need when you need it.

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