A homeowners insurance policy covers many different perils, like fire and lightning, but it doesn’t cover everything. Additionally, depending on the type of homeowners insurance policy you have, your home could be insured against specific named perils, or all perils except those specifically excluded.

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Perils that your homeowners insurance won’t cover against are called exclusions. Identifying what these are, and whether or not there are options available to help you insure against them, could strengthen your insurance plan.

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.

Floods

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 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.

Maintenance

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.

Pests

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.

Home-based businesses

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.

Mold

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. You may be able to increase the level of mold coverage on your home policy, but this option differs by company.

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 there are many home insurance exclusions that are standard for most companies, each insurance company is different, as is each insurance policy. Reviewing your coverage and talking to your insurer about your specific policy may help you identify if you need additional coverage.

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