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. Bankrate’s team of insurance experts have gathered some examples of commonly covered and not covered home insurance situations, which can inform your conversation with your agent to see what your policy covers.

Key takeaways

  • Most standard homeowners insurance policies include identity theft coverage, which can help pay for legal and other fees associated with restoring your credit if stolen.
  • Hotel, dining and laundry expenses can all typically be reimbursed through loss of use coverage.
  • For coverage that is not standard, you could add specialty coverage through endorsements.

Surprising homeowners insurance coverage

While you can often add optional coverage to round out your homeowners policy, there are some standard coverages that could surprise you. Below are seven things that a home insurance policy 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.

7. Belongings outside of your home

Most home insurance policies cover personal belongings such as your furniture, clothing or electronics even if stored outside of your home. However, this coverage is usually limited to a smaller percentage of your overall personal property coverage limit. Personal property coverage is usually limited to 50 to 70 percent of your dwelling coverage. So under a $250,000 policy, you may have $125,000 in personal property protection and 10 percent of that limit may apply for coverage of items stored outside the home, for example. If your items are kept in storage, your policy will usually provide coverage as long as the unit is under the same name as the policyholder. If you own particularly expensive items, you may be able to purchase an endorsement called scheduled personal property coverage as well.

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.

As many traditional homes are built with bricks, you may be wondering does homeowners insurance cover brick repair? Or maybe you’re wondering what repairs home insurance covers at all, if any. Generally, as long as the damage was from a covered peril, coverage would be extended. 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.

Frequently asked questions

    • The best way to know what your homeowners insurance policy covers is to read the policy, especially under the coverage and exclusions. You may have a paper copy filed away or be able to access it online if you have an online account and a paperless policy option setup. There are several types of homeowners policies, and each one has its own limitations on what it covers and doesn’t cover. You can also speak to your insurance agent or company to learn more about what your home insurance policy covers.
    • Yes, you can add more coverage to your homeowners insurance policy, but the type and coverage limit depends on the policy, coverage and company. For instance, you may need coverage for water backup or to protect your service and sewer lines. While some companies make it simple to add the coverage you need, others may require a separate policy or not offer the coverage at all. If you need a type of coverage, but the company does not offer it, it may be worth shopping around to find a carrier that does and switch providers.
    • The things that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover depends on the policy form and company. However, some common things that are not covered by home insurance include flood and earthquake damage. You may be able to get an endorsement added to the policy for earthquake coverage, but in most cases, a separate policy is needed for flood coverage. There is also no coverage for losses due to a lack of maintenance or neglect. Reading your insurance policy under the exclusions section may help determine what your policy doesn’t cover.
    • The best homeowners insurance company for you depends on your specific rating factors, like the age of your house and its features, its location, your coverage needs, your budget and more. You might be able to find a company that fits your needs by obtaining quotes from several carriers. This could allow you to compare the coverage options so you can find the protections you are seeking.