Sidewalks are the city’s gift to pedestrians, but if you’re a homeowner with a section of sidewalk in front of your home, sometimes they can feel like a curse.
Does the sidewalk in front of your home belong to you? The city? Even if the answer is the city, as a homeowner, you’re responsible for keeping your stretch of sidewalk free of snow, ice, and other hazards. That means, if a pedestrian slips and falls on the icy sidewalk, you could be held accountable.
But, personal liabilities aside, what happens when it comes to repair? If your sidewalk is damaged, will your homeowners insurance pay for it? Here’s everything you need to know.
Does home insurance cover sidewalk repairs?
The unsatisfying answer is “sometimes.”
Your sidewalk falls under the “other structures” coverage on your homeowners insurance policy, which means it would probably be covered if it was damaged by a covered peril.
When are sidewalks repairs covered by my insurance company?
Your homeowners policy will protect your sidewalks against the covered perils listed on your policy; however, it’s important to note that covered perils are limited to unexpected and unpreventable occurrences — namely, inclement weather, fires, and criminal activity.
That means, if a forest fire damaged your sidewalk, you could likely file a claim with your home insurance company.
When are sidewalks not repaired by my insurance company?
If your sidewalk was damaged by a peril that wasn’t listed in your policy, it will not be covered. It’s important to note that standard homeowners policies do not cover maintenance expenses. Most sidewalk damage is caused by ground freeze, snow removal equipment, or general wear and tear.
Your homeowners policy may also not protect your sidewalks against some natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Therefore, if you live in an area where these occurrences are known risks, it’s advisable to get additional coverage.
If my home insurance policy won’t cover sidewalk repairs, who will?
If the sidewalk on your property is damaged, who will repair it depends on your state and maybe even your city. Call your city, depending on how the sidewalk was damaged, you may share the responsibility with the city for the repair or replacement cost or the city might pay for the repair or replacement in its entirety.
If you’ve noticed your sidewalks are damaged (holes, cracks, uneven slabs, etc.) and they could be a potential hazard for pedestrians, it’s important that you report the damage to the city as soon as possible. If a pedestrian is injured on your personal property (even if the sidewalk belongs to the city), you could be held personally responsible for their injuries.