Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wear and Tear?
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If you’ve read articles about insurance before, you’ve probably seen this sentence (or a rendition of it) more than once: Your home is likely your biggest investment so it needs the proper protection. Sure, that’s easy enough to say, but what does proper protection look like? A standard policy may be enough to give you some peace of mind but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a lot of thought and care into choosing your home insurance. There’s nothing worse than trying to make a claim and discovering that you are not covered for that particular issue.
However, even if you have the most comprehensive home insurance, you’ll probably have a hard time getting your plan to pay out if you are not maintaining your home and preventing normal wear and tear from causing bigger problems down the line.
What is Wear and Tear?
Let’s define wear and tear. Wear and tear is the gradual damage your home experiences over time. Yes, homes can stay in great shape for hundreds of years, especially if they’re well maintained, but every dwelling will show its age eventually.
Some of the most common signs of wear and tear are:
- Faded paint
- Peeling wallpaper
- Scuffed wooden floors
- Cracked tiles
- Scraped walls
- Sticky windows
- Loose door handles
- Loose roof shingles
- Exterior paint peeling
Is it Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Unfortunately, wear and tear are generally not covered by the average homeowners policy. When you purchase an insurance policy, the insurer commits to protecting your home against any unexpected peril like lightning, floods, etc. Whereas, the general decay of physical objects is, well, expected.
When you purchase a house, you’re committing to proper maintenance, which can go a long way in curbing general wear and tear.
Here’s an example of a wear and tear claim that would not be covered by most insurance policies: You try to claim water damage in your attic but when the insurance company sends someone out to inspect the damage, they find there’s a hole in your roof because you haven’t replaced your shingles in 40 years. In this instance, the home insurance policy may not pay out because the water damage was caused by the roof experiencing general wear and tear from the lack of proper maintenance.
Whereas if the leak in your attic was caused by a wind storm, your insurer would most likely cover it.
How to Reduce Wear and Tear
There’s no better way to avoid coverage issues with your insurance company than by maintaining your home to the best of your ability. Here are some elements of your property that require regular inspection and maintenance:
HVAC filters: These filter the air inside your home and require replacing every 2 to 3 months.
Smoke detectors: Use the test button to ensure they work and if they don’t, it might be time to get new batteries.
Clean gutters: When dirt and leaves accumulate, it can cause a serious blockage that results in water damage.
Inspect for exterior damage: Wear and tear aren’t always in plain sight. It’s worth doing a thorough inspection of your entire property a few times a year.
Inspect for plumbing leaks: Check for leaks in places like bathrooms and the kitchen.
Clean your chimney: Dangerous gases can cause breathing problems for the people inside your home if chimneys are not cleaned regularly.
Check roof: Check for roof damage like loose or broken shingles and fix or replace them if needed.
If a symptom of normal wear arises on your property, nip it in the bud. General maintenance goes a long way in protecting you from costly fixes and insurance issues down the road.