When buying a home insurance policy from a home insurance agency for the first time, you may not understand everything about your policy. Whether you are choosing your insurer or you are finding a policy that would best fit your property, asking questions is crucial to ensure you have a suitable policy.
There are a lot of things about home insurance policies that you may not have even considered until after you’ve bought one — like what is not covered. Below are 10 things that either are not covered by most major policy providers or are very limited in their coverage.
Mold is both an eyesore and a major health risk for homeowners. Although mold cases might seem like common enough occurrences to be considered a cause of loss, most insurance policies either limit the coverage for mold damage or eliminate it altogether. In some instances, insurance companies may offer endorsements to expand mold coverage, particularly if you are in a high-risk area for flooding or water damage.
It is important for homeowners to understand what their policies specify as coverable mold damage. Homeowners should also know that they can easily clean most mold damage less than 10 square feet in area. In larger cases, you will want to call in experts to sort out mold remediation solutions.
2. Sinkholes and Earthquakes
Sinkholes and earthquakes are two major risks to homes located under porous rock or near fault lines. While sinkholes and major earthquake damages can happen in many areas, Florida is the most well known for sinkhole damages. Due to this, Florida is the only U.S. state to require that insurers offer sinkhole damage coverage to their customers.
In some states, like Tennessee, earth movement protection is offered only as an add-on to an existing home insurance policy. Otherwise, you should keep in mind that home insurance providers do not cover earth movement damages.
3. Construction Work Damages
Another accident that you think would be covered by home insurance includes construction work damages. These cause homeowners headaches every year. Mistakes with home renovations are often not covered under standard homeowners’ insurance policies and it is important that you ask your insurers if they provide separate policies for these kind of unforeseen damages.
One tip that can help you avoid these accidents is to check your contractor. When you hire a contractor for home repair, check to make sure that they are licensed, bonded, and insured for potential liabilities.
4. Pool Accidents
When you have family or friends over for a summer pool party, you should understand that any accidents that can happen outside are often not covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy. While some structures of your home may be covered to damages, pools are considered an attractive nuisance.
If you wish to avoid paying for potential lawsuits or hospital bills, you should consider purchasing additional liability insurance to limit the financial risk for your family. Also, make sure that your liability insurance is covering you for the right amount you might need to weather potential financial loss before you buy it, as some plans don’t offer enough coverage.
Every year, termites cause billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses. You should know that termite damage is not covered by standard homeowners’ insurance, however termite coverage is usually available as an add-on for most policies.
In order to avoid termites, remember that they can attack wood and organic material on a home wherever there is contact with soil or water. You should inspect and proof your home against termites along the exterior walls of your house. If you do find termites in your home, consider contacting a licensed pest control professional in order to assess the extent of the damages, as well as remediation solutions for your particular case.
6. Sewer Backup
Just like termites, sewer backup causes serious structural and electrical damage to homes every year. Sewer backup is often the result of unrepaired, 100-year-old pipelines clogging, but storm surges and heavy rainfall can also cause branches and organic material to block pipelines.
Sewer backups can damage floors, walls, and electrical systems as the corrosive elements of sewage deteriorate through leaks. As the sewage begins to leak through the pipelines, it will spread to other areas of your home — potentially causing even more damage if not treated quickly. In order to avoid these risks, experts recommend buying additional insurance for sewer backups.
7. Jewelry or Fine Art
While you may think personal items are covered in your homeowners’ insurance policy, standard policies don’t cover very expensive items like jewelry or fine art. In order to insure such items, insurers often require homeowners to install a separate rider in their policy. Be sure to speak with your insurer about coverage options they may have for expensive personal property.
Another way you can protect your personal property from damage is to invest in protective safes and cases for your expensive items. These proactive measures will give you some peace of mind from any potential burglaries or fires that may occur in your home.
8. Nuclear Plant Disasters
While many Americans cannot fathom the possibility of a nuclear disaster, FEMA reports that 3 million Americans live within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant. At that distance, any meltdowns or reactor malfunctions could affect the health and safety of your family and your property. While there are laws in effect that compensate people for damages resulting from nuclear accidents, most insurance policies do not include extra coverage.
While the reasoning for this lack of coverage is just, it may be valuable for you to get additional coverage for nuclear accidents if you are one of those 3 million people affected. This coverage could help your family survive income loss and living expenses in the aftermath of a nuclear accident.
9. Acts of Terror
Another unthinkable scenario is a domestic act of terrorism. While terrorism has unfortunately become more commonplace within the last two decades, insurance coverage has not adapted to meet this new reality. Most insurance policies do not cover damage from fire or smoke, as well as from nuclear or chemical attack damages. Furthermore, most policies do not even reference the term “acts of terror” at all.
Buying additional insurance for fire and other damage may be beneficial to secure your family’s peace of mind. While you never want to imagine yourself in such a situation, protecting your family and your property against terrorist attacks will ease the pain in the event of domestic terrorism.
Many people assume that flood insurance is included in home insurance, but this is a common misconception for many homeowners, especially those who live in high flood risk areas. Many home insurance policies do not cover flood or water damage and will require homeowners to buy separate flood insurance. Homeowners in high flood risk areas should take careful note to this point.
If you are in a floodplain, near a large body of water, or in areas where hurricanes and tropical storms are common, you are prone to flooding. While you may not think flooding happens often in your area, human-induced climate change will dramatically rewrite generally safe areas over the next century.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Many Americans struggle to decide which insurance costs would benefit them most. With a large portion of America living on a tight budget, making these calculations is even more crucial. Know what you’re covered for and keep your home protected with the proper insurance policy.
Mitch Canelo is a former insurance agent based in Los Angeles, California. He spent 15 years working in home and auto insurance, but is now a freelance writer that’s been published across many digital platforms. In his free time he enjoys gardening in his backyard.