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Your homeowners insurance protects you from facing a catastrophic loss in the event of a named peril, which includes fire, tornadoes, burglary, and more. But does it also cover the contents of your home — for example, your appliances?
The answer is: it depends. If your kitchen appliances are destroyed in a fire, for example, the personal property portion of your policy will cover the loss. But if your refrigerator breaks down one day after ten years of trusty service, you’re probably going to have to pay for repairs yourself.
When does homeowners insurance cover appliances?
The most common type of homeowner policy is called an HO-3 policy, which covers personal property in the event of specific, named disasters. These include the following:
Fire, lightning or smoke damage
It’s easy to see how a kitchen fire could damage your refrigerator or stove. But smoke, too, can cause damage to home systems and appliances, such as air conditioner units and furnaces.
This includes windstorms, hail and the weight of ice, snow or sleet. If a portion of your roof caves in after a large snowfall and crushes your washer and dryer, you should be covered. However, note that flooding is not covered under HO-3 policies — you’d need a separate policy for flood damage.
Although no one likes to think about the possibility, explosions can be caused by either internal or external forces and can do a great deal of damage to your home and its belongings. For example, a gas leak may result in structural damage to the home and your furnace and other appliances.
Riots or civil commotion; vandalism, malicious mischief or theft
HO-3 policies cover damage to your property by individuals with ill intent. If a burglar breaks in and damages your appliances in a search for valuables, your policy should cover it. This would also include the theft of electronics such as computers and stereo systems.
Damage caused by sudden steam or water discharge
The accidental discharge of water or steam, or the sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, or burning of a steam or hot water heating system, can damage any appliances in the area. Note, however, that what’s covered is sudden damage. A slow steam or water leak that causes mold to grow in your basement may not be covered.
If freezing temperatures impact your plumbing, air conditioning, sprinkler system or appliances, you would be covered. This should include damage caused by bursting pipes following a freeze.
Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
This peril refers to damage caused by electrical surges, which can severely damage your electronics. If you have a significant number of expensive electronic items, it’s a good idea to mention it to your insurance agent to be sure you’re properly covered. Some companies offer an additional rider, or endorsement, that covers electronics.
When does homeowners insurance not cover appliances?
There are some instances where your insurance will not cover appliances, and it’s a good idea to be aware of them before you’re faced with repair bills you didn’t expect.
- Age-related breakdowns aren’t covered by standard home insurance policies. If you’ve had an appliance for more than a few years and it stops working for a reason other than a named peril, you’re on your own for repairs.
- Lack of maintenance is also not covered by your insurance policy. If you haven’t had your furnace cleaned each year, for example, despite the manual saying that this should be done, your policy will not come to the rescue.
- Flooding is not covered by HO-3 policies. A separate policy from the government’s National Flood Insurance Program can be purchased if you live in or near a flood zone — but if you don’t have one and your basement floods, shorting out your dryer, you won’t be covered. It’s also worth noting that although you would be covered for damage caused by a hurricane, you would not be covered for damage caused by hurricane-induced flooding.
- A standard home insurance policy does not cover damage caused by earthquakes. However, if your appliances are damaged in a fire that occurred after an earthquake, you would be covered.
Types of homeowners insurance that covers appliances
What insurance covers appliances? As we’ve discussed, an HO-3 policy, which most home insurance policies are, covers your appliances in the event of named perils. There are a few other options available that may help pay for appliances when they are damaged.
What about if you rent an apartment or house, but you’ve installed your own appliances in it, such as a washer and dryer? An HO-4 policy, also called renter’s insurance, is what you’ll want to look into. It covers your personal property from the named perils listed above. Are appliances considered personal property? Yes, they are. This insurance does not cover the building itself — that would be your landlord’s responsibility. But anything in the apartment that you own, from your clothing to your coffee maker, would be covered through an HO-4 policy.
Condo insurance, or HO-6 policies, is sometimes called “walls-in” coverage because although it doesn’t cover the actual structure, it covers the walls, floors and ceilings — as well as the owner’s personal belongings, including appliances. It covers the same named perils we’ve already talked about, including fire and damage from snow and wind storms.
Mobile home insurance
If you own a mobile home, you probably have HO-7 coverage. This type of policy covers the physical structure of the building, as well as its contents. The perils it covers may differ from the named perils of the other policies — it’s a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable agent to find out exactly what is covered.
Since basic HO-3 policies don’t cover flood damage, it’s important to know if you live in a flood zone. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a flood map service center that allows you to input your address and determine if your property is at risk. If so, consider purchasing a flood insurance policy through your insurer. Personal contents flood insurance will reimburse you for the loss of clothing, furniture, electronics and some appliances, including freezers, and their contents. FEMA estimates that the average flood policy costs approximately $700 annually.
Home warranty coverage
Not exactly the same as the “HO” series policies, home warranties are sometimes given to new homeowners as part of the closing deal. This coverage is more like a service contract that covers your appliances and home systems (plumbing, electrical, HVAC) from damage caused by regular wear-and-tear and age. So you may have an HO-3 home insurance policy and a home warranty — the coverages are different. A home warranty generally costs anywhere from $25 to $50 a month, and you are often able to pick and choose what you’d like covered.
Who needs insurance that covers appliances?
If you’ve just purchased a newly-built home with brand-new appliances, you’re probably fine with a standard homeowner’s HO-3 policy. Your new appliances are likely covered under manufacturers’ warranties. You will probably be offered extended warranties, for an additional cost, that would cover damage for a certain number of years.
Home insurance that covers appliances becomes more important if you have an older home with older appliances. If that’s your situation, you may want to consider a home warranty in addition to your regular coverage since that type of policy will cover appliances that stop working because of their age.
How to choose the right policy to protect your appliances
When purchasing homeowners insurance, your agent should walk you through the options available, including an overview of coverage endorsements, or add-ons, and available discounts. There are multiple factors to consider when purchasing a policy: cost, customer service, the financial stability of the company and more.
Since every policy is unique, the right policy for you might be different from the policy that works best for your neighbor. Talk to your agent about your appliances.
If you’d rather avoid the hassles of regular repair calls for older appliances, consider a home warranty. Although warranties can be pricey, they also take away the worry of system or appliance failure.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best home insurance company?
There are a number of home insurers that offer solid, customizable coverage for competitive rates. The best insurance for appliances for you may not be the same as the one that gave your neighbor the best rates, so it pays to shop around and get multiple quotes. A good place to start is with our Best Home Insurance Companies of 2020.
My six-year-old stove needs a new broiler unit. Am I covered?
Probably not, unless the broiler unit blew out due to a named peril. If an electrical surge caused it, for example, it might be covered — you’ll want to check with your agent. But you’ll also want to consider your deductible, which may be higher than the new unit costs. If that’s the case, then you likely won’t have a covered claim.
If I have a home warranty, do I need another policy?
Yes. A home warranty covers your appliances and home systems from regular wear-and-tear and aging. Warranties don’t cover your home’s structure or any repairs needed if a disaster, such as a fire or a hurricane, strikes. For that, you’ll need a standard home insurance policy.