Most people think of homeowner’s insurance in terms of major catastrophic damage, like a total loss from a fire. But your insurance policy likely covers lots of additional things.
Although most people get homeowner’s insurance right out of the gate, it isn’t required in all cases. Unlike auto insurance, most states don’t require you to have homeowner’s insurance, although your mortgage lender might make it part of their terms.
Either way, just because you could skip out on homeowner’s insurance doesn’t mean you should. If you’re on the fence about getting homeowner’s insurance, it might help you to know the types of protection your policy could cover.
Keep in mind different states have different requirements, and not all insurance companies offer the same coverage. For example, most home insurance policies don’t cover flooding, earthquakes, sinkholes, or landslides. If you live in an area prone to any of these natural disasters, you’ll likely have to pay for additional policies.
Homeowner’s insurance isn’t just for major emergencies—your coverage could include some unexpected things.
Here are some common things your policy likely covers:
- Upgrades required by law: If your city or county suddenly passes a law that makes your home “illegal,” your homeowner’s policy might cover at least some of the costs of the necessary repairs. Some companies include this feature in their basic coverage, while others offer it as an add-on.
- Water damage: Your policy might cover water damage that isn’t caused by a natural flood. If a pipe bursts or your water heater goes caput and damages your flooring or walls, check your policy.
- Weather damage: Most insurance companies cover any damage that occurs during a storm, including wind and hail damage, or any roof damage caused by snow or ice.
- Vandalism: If a vandal or civil disturbance (like a protest or riot) damages your property, your homeowner’s policy likely covers it.
- Fire and smoke: A house fire is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think about home insurance. However, many policies cover smoke damage, too.
- On-site structures: A homeowner’s policy typically covers your home and any other on-site structures, including dog houses, sheds, gazebos, and patios. Keep any documentation and notify your insurance company if you add any structures, so it’s also added to your coverage.
- Landscaping: Speaking of things outside your home, your insurance might also cover your landscaping. Trees, shrubs, ornamental plants, and any physical improvements you make to your yard are often protected under the same umbrella as your home. Any landscape damage caused by fire, lightning strikes, or vandalism is usually also covered.
- Personal items (including anything in your car): If someone breaks into your home or car (while it’s parked at your home) and steals personal items, your insurance company will likely reimburse you for the loss. You might have to file a police report and provide documentation to receive compensation.
- Dog bites: If your dog bites someone, your homeowner’s insurance policy might pay out a certain amount. However, many companies won’t cover certain breeds, like Pit Bulls and German Shepherds, so check your policy.
- Injuries that occur on your property: If someone falls, drowns, breaks a bone, trips, or otherwise injures themselves on your property, you can file a claim through your insurance to cover the cost of damages. This applies to “emotional” damage too. If a neighbor sues you for libel or slander, your insurance policy takes care of that as part of the liability section.
- Gravestones: Because gravestones are considered personal property, your homeowner’s insurance might cover any damage. However, if the cemetery crew damages it, they might have to pay for repairs.
- Your college student’s property: Your policy probably covers any items your kid has with him at college. Most coverage is limited to children under 24 years of age and might require that he live on-campus.
- Food: If you lose power due to a storm or other electrical issue, and the food in your fridge or freezer spoils, you might be able to recoup some (or all) of the loss. Check the deductible on your policy to determine whether it’s worth it to file a claim.
- Meteorites: Rest assured, if a random piece of meteor or space rock comes through the roof of your house, your insurance company probably covers the damage. And this has actually happened. So, if Armageddon happens at your house, at least you won’t have to pay to repair your property.
Paying an extra bill for homeowner’s insurance each month might be a hassle, but it sure comes in handy when the unexpected happens!