Our hope is that you never have to experience any disaster to your home that requires submitting an insurance claim to our office.
What worries us even more, though, is submitting an insurance claim assuming there is coverage only to find out the claim is actually excluded on your policy.
With that in mind we have put together a list of the top 7 most-frequently-excluded claims on homeowners insurance policies. While we are always working to provide you with the insurance coverage you need, subtle changes we are unaware of (like a trampoline purchase for instance) may have a dramatic effect on the coverage your insurance company is willing to offer.
We hope that by sharing this list we can help uncover some potential gaps in your policy and provide you with some insight on how to properly cover them.
If you have any questions at all specific to your policy, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.
Mold and Water Dam
A spike in mold-related claims at the turn of the century led most insurers to strike the coverage entirely from their homeowners policies.
Since 2000, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of mold-related claims submitted to insurance companies. The peak came around 2002 when Ed McMahon filed a $20 million lawsuit against his insurance company for mold-related damages. After that, many insurance companies stopped providing coverage completely or limited their coverage to a very small amount.
The only thing worse than having a bathroom or basement overflowing with sewage is the fact that you may have pay the entire bill yourself.
Sewage backups are a standard exclusion on many homeowners insurance policies. Without purchasing the additional rider (which is usually less than $100), there is a very good chance you will have to pay for the cleanup yourself.
We will often see the homeowners try to get their cities to pay for the damages, but without being able to prove negligence it is a very difficult thing to do.
Depending on where you live, your insurance policy may exclude coverage for certain natural disasters, including wildfires, earthquakes, and flood.
If you live in an area likely to be involved in a natural disaster, then your insurance company may be reluctant to provide coverage for the incident. For example, almost every homeowners insurance policy excludes any coverage for earthquakes, floods or landslides. That coverage must be purchased through a specialty insurance company.
Also, if your home is located in a very remote area far away from any fire station or you live in coastal area, then your insurance policy may not provide damage from fire or wind.
Home damage that happens over a long period of time like a slow water leak or a termite infestation may leave you with the bill.
Homeowners insurance policies are written to cover “sudden and unexpected losses” that happen to your home. Insurance companies expect you to care for your home and deal with any maintenance issues that come up. This means problems like a slow water leaks or infestations are usually excluded on your insurance policy because they develop over a long period of time and should have been detected by the homeowner.
Bruce Johnson, author of “50 Simple Ways to Save Your House ,” recommends conducting regular home inspections to detect any potential problems. Tour the exterior of your home to look for cracks, decay or water damage. Check the condition of the roof and inspect the basement or crawl space for other hidden problems, including rodent droppings, termites or leaks.
Some hazards like a swimming pool or swing set may cause an increase in your premiums while other hazards like trampolines may outright excluded on your policy.
According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there are approximately 98,000 trampoline-related injuries every year with fractures and dislocations accounting for 48% of those injuries.
With that in mind many insurance companies are now excluding any injury related to trampolines. In fact, some insurance companies will actually cancel your insurance policy if they find out your have purchased one.
So if you have purchased a trampoline be sure to speak with our office to find out how it will affect your liability coverage and insurance policy.
Dog bites now account for over one-third of all homeowners insurance claims with average damages totaling over $10,000.
With total damages now exceeding $310 million a year, it is easy to see why insurance companies are very leery to insurance residences with dogs. Whether or not your insurance company will surcharge for owning a dog or provide coverage at all depends upon the breed of dog you own.
Troublesome breeds like pit bulls, German shepards, Rottweilers, and huskies may make finding an insurance policy that will provide liability coverage very difficult. Providing proof of dog training and a proper fenced-in enclosure with help prove to insurance companies you are taking the necessary steps to protect yourself and others, and they may be willing to discount your premiums for doing so.
If your rebellious teenager or estranged spouse intentionally damages your home, there is a good chance you will be paying for the damages yourself.
Intentional damages caused by an insured person – you, your spouse, dependants or any relatives living in the home – aren’t typically covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Estranged spouses are a very gray area for insurance companies: while they may not live at the residence, they may still be listed on the deed or have an insurable interest in the home, which will give insurance companies a right to deny any claim from their destruction.
The above information is to be used as guidance only, and should not be considered as definite in any particular case. Every policy is different and you need to read through your policy and consult with your agent to best determine how your coverage will respond. Within this article we simply cannot analyze every possible loss exposure and exception to the general guidelines above.