The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
Under a homeowners insurance policy, various perils are covered. Some of the common perils can include fire, lightning, windstorms and theft. Depending on the homeowners insurance policy type, your home could be protected against named perils, which are specific incidents, or all perils except those specifically excluded. If your homeowners insurance policy does not cover a particular peril, then it is called an exclusion. It’s important to find out what exclusions are in your policy to understand your options in case you need to obtain additional coverage. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team explains what perils home insurance typically excludes.
Home insurance exclusions
Many perils are not covered by a home insurance policy. In order to have coverage against them, you may be able to add an endorsement from your home insurance company for an extra fee. Or, in some cases, you may need to purchase an entirely separate policy. Some of the most common home insurance exclusions, and the steps you may be able to take to obtain coverage, are listed below.
Damage caused by floods is almost always a homeowners exclusion. Flood damage is a very common HO-3 policy exclusion, but even homeowners with HO-5 policies, which provide broader coverage than HO-3 policies, are likely not covered for flood damage.
For coverage against flood damage, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. While anyone can buy flood insurance, you may be required by your mortgage lender to have flood insurance if your home is located in a high-risk flood zone as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood map. You can typically purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private carrier.
Earthquakes and earth movement
Just like flood damage, damage caused by earth movement is a common homeowners insurance exclusion. The excluded causes of loss typically include earthquakes, landslides and mudflows. Because earthquakes can cause devastating amounts of damage, you may want to consider purchasing coverage, particularly if you live in an earthquake-prone area like California. California residents can generally purchase earthquake insurance through the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) or a private insurer.
Depending on where you live and how common earthquakes and earth movement are, you may be able to get earthquake coverage by adding an endorsement to your home policy. If you live in a particularly earthquake-prone area, you may need to purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy.
If you own a home, you are likely going to have to do some maintenance work at some point. This could include repairing an appliance or updating your plumbing or electrical systems. These types of repairs are often considered maintenance and home insurance almost never covers them.
Being proactive about your home maintenance could help you to solve problems before they become catastrophic. You may want to consider setting aside a portion of money for home maintenance, so that you have the funds to cover the costs when an issue arises. If you have concerns about being able to afford the cost of keeping up your home, you can also explore purchasing a home warranty.
Almost all homeowners policies exclude infestations of vermin, including insects and rodents. Whether your home is affected by termites, bedbugs or mice, your home insurance coverage is not likely to cover the eradication and remediation costs.
There is not often an endorsement or separate policy that you can purchase to gain insurance coverage for these types of losses. However, a pest control company may offer a warranty for a certain length of time after your house is treated for an infestation.
While your home policy likely has liability insurance in case someone gets injured at your home, the coverage does not typically extend to a home-based business. If a client slips and falls while visiting your home office, your home insurance most likely will not cover the resulting medical expenses or any legal fees or settlements should that individual decide to sue. Similarly, most home insurance policies have a limit on the amount of business personal property coverage you have, and some policies may exclude coverage entirely. If your work laptop is stolen while you are working from home, you may have limited or no coverage.
If you own a home-based business or if you work from home, you may be able to add a certain level of coverage to your home insurance policy. If your business is more extensive, you may need a separate business policy for coverage.
In most cases, mold is a home insurance exclusion unless the mold resulted from a covered peril. For example, if a storm breaks your window and the resulting water damage causes mold, you may have coverage for the mold remediation. But for mold that develops slowly or for which you cannot identify a cause, you will likely need to pay for any necessary treatment and repairs out of pocket. Some companies may offer an endorsement for mold remediation, so you may want to speak with your insurance agent to see if this is an option for you.
The full cost of high-value items
While homeowners insurance may offer some coverage for your pricier personal property like jewelry, art and collectibles, most policies cap the payout at a certain dollar amount, like $1,500 for all of your jewelry.
If you have more expensive possessions like high-value jewelry, you may want to ask your home insurance company if they offer endorsements for high-value items. These policy riders generally list the expensive items individually and often cover them for their full replacement value. The endorsement may have a lower deductible than your home insurance policy or no deductible at all. Your company might also offer this coverage on a standalone policy.
Insurance companies and home insurance exclusions
While many homeowners insurance companies may have common exclusions, each insurance company is different. The best way to identify what exclusions are included in your policy is to consider reviewing your coverage and speaking with a licensed insurance agent at your insurance company to help you identify whether you need additional coverage.
Frequently asked questions
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect your finances against sudden and accidental damage, like storm damage or someone falling and hurting themselves. Certain exclusions fall outside of the spectrum of sudden or accidental. Pests and mold, for example, typically take a period of time to develop into a problem. Other exclusions, like floods or earthquakes, can cause such catastrophic damage that they warrant their own rating metrics separate from a home insurance policy. Excluding these coverages under standard home insurance policies may help insurance companies offer cheaper standard coverage.
The exclusions of your insurance policy should be in your paperwork. You can also talk to your company or agent to get a better sense of what is excluded. Although there are often standard homeowners insurance exclusions, and many exclusions depend on the type of policy you have, your exclusions could also depend on your insurance company, your location and your specific situation. For example, some home policies can be amended to exclude coverage for your roof if it is in especially poor shape.
Many home insurance policies have common exclusions, including flood and earthquake coverage. However, all companies are different. Some companies may include typically excluded coverages. Additionally, some companies could have exclusions that are relatively rare in the industry. Talking to your agent about your specific policy could help you better understand what your policy does and does not cover.
Some of the common perils covered include fire, smoke, lightning, theft, falling objects, vandalism and damage from a vehicle. However, each home insurance policy is different, so consider speaking with a licensed agent.