Your house or your stuff is broken, damaged, lost, or stolen. But is the damage covered by your home insurance policy?
“That’s not covered”
These are three words no one wants to hear from their insurance company or agent.
This blog won’t, in fact, it can’t address every circumstance that could result in the damage to your stuff. Do you want to see some really strange claims? Check out the Farmers Insurance “Hall of Claims.”
Not every home insurance policy is the same. The types of coverage available, as well as the types of losses that are covered, can vary widely.
All insurance policies are contracts. They’re written in legal language that can be a little confusing for those of us that don’t speak “attorney” as our native language.
They are peppered with phrases like: “We will insure you for the Extensions of Coverage as described below except as otherwise shown in the Declarations.”
Contracts spell out the rights and obligations of all parties involved in the contract. That’s why I would recommend having an insurance agent who is available to meet and review your policy to make sure the coverage you have is what you need.
Losses resulting from a lack of maintenance, or a “wear and tear” situation are not usually covered.
Here is a “Rule of Thumb” for you to use when you wonder if something would be covered by your home insurance.
A Home insurance claim must meet two criteria before it can even be considered as a possible covered loss.
Did the damage occur “suddenly”?
Did the damage happen “accidentally”?
Let’s brainstorm some potential losses at your house…
The plumber comes into the living room with bad news. Your dishwasher died.
It was pretty old and the pump finally went out. You make a call to your insurance agent.
Wear and tear, deterioration, and mechanical breakdown are not covered by your home insurance.
Things wear out over time, not “suddenly”. So, on things like your washer, dryer, heat & air, water heater, and any other mechanical system in the house that is subject to wear and tear, coverage for repair is not available.
There is a policy that can provide coverage for these types of issues. They are home maintenance policies, also known as “home warranty” policies.
Our clients have access to American Home Shield, one of the leading home warranty companies.
Having an emergency fund is the advice I would recommend to everyone. Although you may not view it this way, an emergency fund is your self-insurance policy.
You’re going to have emergencies in life.
I know that’s obvious, but I’m going to leave that line in the blog anyway.
There is a certain peace of mind that comes from having some money set aside for emergencies. I highly recommend it.
You notice a little pile of sand on the window sill. A little more investigation leads to the discovery of a termite invasion. I hate bugs!
You call the exterminator and find out it’s going to be a large expense to fix the damage these little devils have caused. You make a call to your insurance agent.
Damage from infestations like this are not covered, mainly because they don’t happen “suddenly”.
Termites are almost inevitable. But a simple yard spray and inspection every few years can greatly reduce the risk and severity of termite damage.
If you wait until you see the damage, it may be too late.
You notice a water stain on the ceiling. A sure sign of a roof leak. You call out a roofing contractor to inspect your 15-year-old roof.
The roof is worn out.
Even if the interior water damage is covered (which would be unlikely with most companies) the roof would not be covered, because it just wore out.
Here in Oklahoma, roofs are more likely to get damaged in a storm long before they wear out.
Many people think that just because the roof isn’t leaking means the roof is still good. That’s like thinking bald tires are still good, just because they still hold air.
Being a homeowner means being prepared for the inevitable maintenance it’s going to require.
The best maintenance you can spend your money on is PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE.
You should have your home roof inspected at least every 3 years.
Not just to check for hail damage, but also to inspect for the deterioration of the vents, flashing, and weather stripping that can lead to leaks.
Most roofing contractors will inspect your roof for storm damage at no charge to you.
What other things might not be covered you ask…
Have you ever lost your keys, phone, or wallet? First, you’re annoyed. Then, you start looking for someone to blame for moving your “stuff”. Then, you’re getting really ticked because you’re going to be late. Now, panic starts to set in because you realize it’s really gone.
Did you lose it or was it stolen?
“Mysterious disappearance” (lost) is not covered.
So, if you left your keys, wallet, or phone at the beach. It’s on you.
Theft is covered. Call the police to report the theft.
Then talk to your agent to determine if the value of the items stolen justifies filing a claim when you consider the deductible and potential surcharges you may face for filing the claim.
Charlie is a real cutie. Everyone loves him. He’s very well behaved. Plus, he’s so good with your kids.
You leave him alone at home while you go to the store and he chews up the couch.
Dogs do that sometimes…and no, it’s not covered.
It’s called a kennel. They’re humane and I highly recommend them.
You may be asking yourself, “Why do I even have insurance then?”
Home insurance is really designed to cover larger losses. I’m not saying any of the scenarios I just described aren’t major hassles, they are!
But will they really change your financial life?
If the answer is YES, we need to get started on that emergency fund, STAT!
What’s covered then? Lots of things. Here are several scenarios.
- Windstorm/hailstorm damage to your roof, siding, windows, and patio furniture outside? YES
- Lightning strike hits the electric box on your house and zaps all of your electronics? YES
- Fire and smoke damage due to a defective toaster? YES
- You smash your mailbox with the car backing out of the driveway? YES
- A water pipe breaks under the sink soaking the carpet and cabinets? YES
- Someone kicks in the back door and steals your golf clubs, guns, and jewelry? YES
- A satellite from space falling and smashing your house? As weird as that sounds, YES.
Having an EMERGENCY FUND is the first step in a good insurance plan.
Just as your home insurance won’t pay to paint your shutters…it won’t pay for things that should be maintained by the homeowner.
Not everything is covered by insurance, and frankly, you probably shouldn’t file a claim for everything that is covered by insurance.
If you have questions or concerns about anything on your home insurance policy, get with your insurance agent and discuss it until you feel like you understand it.
If you would like another opinion on your insurance risks and needs, I would be glad to help.
Call us at 405-340-0606.
Or complete this short form and we’ll reach out to you to start our conversation.