You are probably aware of some of the common causes of home damage, including strong winds, heavy rain and vandalism. But did you know your home insurance policy covers some pretty surprising things, too? If someone steals your identity or if a meteorite falls on your kitchen, your home insurance could step in to pay for the damages. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team has rounded up six surprising things homeowners insurance covers.
What does homeowners insurance cover?
Your homeowners insurance coverage is designed to protect your house, your belongings and your liability exposure. You can often add additional optional coverages as needed.
There are some situations that most homeowners policies provide coverage for, regardless of which company you purchase your policy from. Losses like theft, vandalism and wind damage are often frequently covered on a standard homeowners insurance policy. 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 plan, like a flood insurance policy.
The specific protections you get from your policy will depend on the policy type that you purchase. Condo owners policies, for example, generally offer different standard coverages than homeowners policies. And within homeowners policies, there are different policy forms that offer different packages of coverage. The best way to determine the specific coverages included on your homeowners insurance policy is to discuss your coverage with your insurance company.
Surprising homeowners insurance coverages
While you can often add optional coverages 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.
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 and sheds.
For example, if a windstorm damages your detached garage, your other structures coverage may pay for the repairs. Similarly, other structures coverage may extend to barns, detached garages, privacy fences and gazebos. Your 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.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year. A dog bite is 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. 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.
Your liability insurance is designed to provide coverage for injuries or property damage that you are found at fault for and can help to pay the other party’s medical and repair bills, as well as your legal fees. Liability coverage is included on most standard homeowners insurance policies.
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, you may want to consider increasing your liability coverage. Coverage limits usually start at $100,000 and can go as high at $1 million. You can even get 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 could 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. There are several different kinds of homeowners insurance policy forms, and each includes different coverages.
Frequently asked questions
How do I know what my homeowners insurance policy covers?
The details about the specific coverages and exclusions on your homeowners insurance policy are included in your full policy form, which may have been mailed to you when you purchased your policy. If you have an online account with your company or have signed up for a paperless option, you may also be able to obtain your full policy online. If you have any questions about your homeowners insurance coverage, your insurance company or your agent should be able to help.
Can I add more coverage to my homeowners insurance policy?
If you want to add a coverage option to your homeowners insurance policy, like identity theft protection, you can start by contacting your insurance provider to see if it offers the coverage you are looking for. You may be able to simply add the option to your policy. If you are not able to get the coverage you want with your current company, you may want to consider changing insurance providers.
What are some things that homeowners insurance doesn’t cover?
Home insurance is designed to primarily cover sudden and accidental damage. Any damage that is ongoing or intentional is likely to be denied. For example, if you have a slow water leak that you put off repairing, your home insurance will not likely cover the water damage. Most home insurance policies also do not cover flood damage or earthquake damage without an endorsement. And if you run a business from your home, you probably need additional coverage.
What is the best home insurance company?
The best homeowners insurance company for you depends on your specific rating factors, like the age of your house, 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.