Homeowners insurance is one of those things you have that you hope you never have to use; it’s a safeguard against something bad happening so you don’t have to pay completely out of pocket to make a repair or replacement. But when you look at your policy, it can be difficult to understand what homeowners insurance does and does not cover.
Your insurance policy may be a document stack 6 inches tall, and wading through it can be a chore.
Homeowners insurance is meant to help pay to replace or repair your home and belongings in the event of damage from fire, wind, or other problems. Your homeowner’s insurance also may cover accidental damage to other people’s property or if someone gets injured at your house.
Here are some of the basics on what homeowners insurance does and doesn’t cover:
WHAT HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE DOES COVER
Most homeowners insurance covers damage from certain natural disasters or accidental conditions, including fire, lightning strikes, windstorms, or hail.
Homeowners insurance is meant to cover:
Other structures on your property, such as garages and sheds
When talking about coverage for your home, your homeowner’s insurance does cover items such as a replacement roof following a hail storm, a broken window from a thrown rock, or structure replacement from an accidental fire. It also covers these repairs or replacements on any structures attached to your home, such as an attached garage or deck.
If you have a shed, detached garage, or other outbuildings on your property, your homeowner’s insurance also covers repair and replacement for damage to these structures under the same conditions.
Should someone break into your home and major valuables – your electronics, jewelry, and expensive furniture – are stolen, your homeowner’s insurance can provide coverage for these items. And, in the event of a fire or explosion, your personal property is covered up to a specified amount within your policy.
But homeowners insurance does not just cover structure and property damage.
Imagine you have a friend over for dinner and they trip on a broken step on your porch. Your friend needs to see a doctor, have some physical therapy, and possibly even have surgery for the injury.
Instead of paying for the cost of your friend’s treatment out of your pocket, or their medical insurance covering the cost, your homeowner’s insurance also can cover your friend’s medical bills.
WHAT YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE DOES NOT COVER
While homeowners insurance does cover loss and damage from a variety of conditions, there are some potentially expensive, frustrating conditions traditional homeowners insurance doesn’t cover.
If you suffer loss from a flood or earthquake, it will not be covered under your homeowner’s insurance unless you have purchased specific coverage for these events. Most homeowners will not need special flood or earthquake coverage unless they live in areas prone to them.
There are a variety of other conditions that your homeowner’s insurance does not cover, including:
Burst water pipes
Treatment for emotional stress
Mold, depending on the conditions of your policy
If you experience a hurricane and your home suffers wind and water damage, your homeowner’s insurance will only cover the wind damage unless you have flood insurance.
Some policies also restrict the coverage they will provide for dog bites. They only offer coverage for “non-dangerous” breeds, even if the liability portions of the policy cover pet-related incidents. If you own a dog, it’s important to check that your homeowner’s insurance will cover injuries in case your dog hurts you or someone on your property.