Over the past few years, I have had some interactions with clients that have been going through a claim and they found out that coverage wasn’t available for the loss they were going through.
Have you ever read your homeowners policy? I didn’t think so. I wanted to highlight some things that are NOT covered on a homeowners policy. Now, I have to write generalities because there can be grey areas in different situations. So all of my statements are going to start with, “Generally”.
Occurrences that are GENERALLY not covered:
WEAR AND TEAR. Homeowners policies are not warranty policies. So when your roof gets old and starts leaking, you generally won’t find any coverage for the roof, or for the damage the leak creates. When the alternator in your car goes out, do you use your insurance to replace it?
NEGLECT. If you don’t re-caulk your showers or sinks, and one day there is damage to the floor or counter. There is generally no coverage for that. If you have a basement and it fills up with water and you don’t do anything about it and damage occurs because of that, generally no coverage. If wind blows shingles off (there is coverage for that), but don’t do anything for a month and then it rains, generally no coverage. Bottom line here is, homeowners have a responsibility to keep their house safe and maintained.
FAULTY INSTALLATION. If you have some work done and it was done incorrectly and a loss occurs because of that, generally no coverage. I had a home insured and the deck fell off the back of the house. Thankfully no one was hurt. Claims sent out an engineer to inspect and see what happened. Turns out, the deck was 20 years old and the flashing near the bottom wasn’t updated, so there was rotting (neglect). AND, the deck was NAILED to the house. They used nails, not screws. Faulty installation.
FAULTY SHOWER PAN. I had 3 of these last year, where the shower pan failed and caused damage. This again is faulty installation.
OUTSIDE WATER– If there is water damage to a home, it is important to know where the water came from. Generally, if the water comes from outside, like a rainstorm, or a river, no coverage. You need a flood policy to cover that kind of damage. If the water comes from inside- there can be coverage. Depending on how the water got there. Which leads me to my next one.
SLOW LEAKS. If the water comes from inside the house but has been happening slowly due to a slow leak, generally no coverage. If the toilet or sink is slowly leaking and you don’t do anything about it, it would fall under neglect. I had a client who knew of a slow leak and didn’t do anything for 3 weeks. No coverage.
So what is covered?! Homeowners insurance is for the “holy crap” moments in your life. Burst pipes, fire, robbery, big storm and tree crashes through roof, water heater explodes, etc. The claims that are covered are generally from a single event that causes damage or loss.
That is a quick one page snapshot of how a homeowners policy works for damage to the home. There are other coverage’s such a personal property and liability included in all of these policies that I will write about at a later time.