When you buy homeowners insurance, you become aware of the common causes of loss the policy covers, like fire, hail damage, theft and vandalism. But there may be some things your homeowners insurance covers that you may not be aware of, such as damage to outbuildings on your property or injuries your pet causes to others. Take a look at some of the more surprising things your homeowners insurance policy may cover, then speak with your agent to see what your policy covers.

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What does homeowners insurance cover?

Your homeowners insurance coverage is designed to help protect your finances when damage to your house and belongings occurs or if you have a major liability exposure. You can often add additional optional coverage for more robust coverage, as needed.

There are some situations that most homeowners policies provide coverage for, regardless of which company you purchase your policy from. A standard homeowners insurance policy often covers losses like theft, vandalism and fire damage. However, homeowners insurance typically does not include coverage for floods or earthquakes. You might be able to add coverage for these instances with an endorsement, or you might need to buy another policy for this coverage.

The specific protections you get from your home insurance policy will depend on the property policy type that you purchase. The best way to determine the specific coverage included on your homeowners insurance policy is to discuss your coverage with your insurance company or agent.

Surprising homeowners insurance coverages

While you can often add optional coverage to round out your homeowners policy, there are some standard coverages that could surprise you. Below are six things that home insurance generally covers that many homeowners aren’t aware of.

1. Identity theft

If your identity has been stolen, you could incur fees trying to repair the damage. You may spend countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to restore your credit.

Some insurers include identity theft coverage within a standard homeowners policies, but most provide it as an optional coverage that you can add for an additional cost. This coverage could help pay for expenses after your identity is stolen. Identity theft coverage may pay for legal fees, lost wages and notary costs associated with restoring your credit. The specifics of the coverage and limits of coverage can vary by carrier, so you may want to check your policy or speak with your insurance company to get the specifics on this coverage.

2. Damaged outbuildings

You may notice “other structures coverage” listed on your homeowners insurance policy. Other structures coverage comes standard with most home insurance policies and covers structures on your property that are not attached to your house, like fences, a detached guest house, detached garages, mailboxes and sheds. This coverage is typically 10 percent of the dwelling coverage amount, but it may be increased if your outbuildings’ total value is greater than the standard coverage amount. Your policy deductible does apply to this coverage, though, so be prepared to pay a portion of any claim out of pocket.

3. Injuries caused by animals

Personal liability coverage can help cover legal and medical expenses if your pet injures someone who does not live with you, like a guest, neighbor or mail carrier. Personal liability coverage is included standard on most home insurance policies.

More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. A dog bite can be a serious injury and can lead to expensive medical and legal bills. Pets can injure people in other ways, as well, such as knocking someone down. If your pet injures someone, your liability coverage might help pay for the medical bills and legal fees if you are sued. However, not all companies automatically cover liability for pets. Certain dog breeds and exotic pets are often excluded from coverage. You may want to confirm with your insurance company if pet liability coverage is included in your policy.

4. Hotel expenses after a covered loss

If you experience damage to your home that is significant enough, you may need to find temporary accommodation while your home is repaired from a covered claim. Fortunately, most standard homeowners policies include loss of use coverage, also known as additional living expenses coverage.

Following a covered loss, your additional living expenses coverage could help to pay for expenses associated with a temporary living situation. This could include hotel bills or the cost of a temporary rental home, laundromat fees and other expenses that may come up, like having to board your dog while you stay in a hotel.

5. Lawsuits

If you entertain often, have children who like to host sleepovers, or if your home has a potentially dangerous feature, like a swimming pool or trampoline, your personal liability coverage could step in if someone who doesn’t live in your household was injured and you are found legally liable. A property policy’s coverage limits usually start at $100,000 and generally go as high as $1 million. If your home insurance policy doesn’t offer enough liability coverage, you can consider getting more liability coverage by purchasing an umbrella insurance policy.

6. Meteorite damage

Most standard homeowners insurance coverage includes damages caused by falling objects. If a meteorite falls from the sky and crashes into your home, your dwelling coverage may cover the damages.

However, you might want to read your policy terms carefully to know exactly what types of perils are covered and which ones are excluded.

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