When you buy a homeowner’s insurance policy, it protects your home from different covered perils. And when your home is damaged, the first thing you need to do is inform your insurance company and file a claim. Your insurance company will then send out an adjuster to inspect the damage and determine what the cause was.
What they find will go a long way toward determining if the damage to your home is covered. In some cases, though, the damage won’t be covered if it was caused by an “excluded peril.”
To understand what your homeowner’s insurance covers and does not cover, here’s what you should know.
Your homeowner’s insurance provides coverage against certain types of damage called perils. The most common perils covered under an HO-2 policy, the most basic type of homeowner’s insurance policy, includes:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow or sleet which causes damage to a building
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire-protective sprinkler system or from a household appliance
- Sudden/accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam/hot water heating system, as well as an air conditioning or automatic fire-protective system
- Freezing of plumbing, heating, or air conditioning systems
- Damage caused by a faulty automatic, fire-protective sprinkler system, or faulty household appliance
- Sudden/accidental damage from an artificially generated electrical current (not including damage caused due to loss to a tube, transistor, or similar electronic component)
Most Common Exclusions from Home Insurance
An HO-3 policy, another type of homeowner’s insurance policy, is actually the most common type. It covers everything except for specific listed perils, which are outlined in your policy. The standard exclusions in an H-3 policy are:
Ordinance or law: Damage from demolition or construction being performed to bring your house up to code.
Earth movement: Damage from earthquakes, shockwaves, sinkholes, landslides, and mudflows.
Water damage: Damage from flooding outside your home, a sewer back-up, or water that seeps through and damages your home’s foundation.
Power failure: Damage to personal property, such as TVs, computers, and other electronic devices.
Neglect: Instances where you fail to take reasonable measures you take to save your property either during or following a loss.
War: Including an undeclared war or civil war.
Nuclear hazard: Damage from any nuclear reaction, radiation, or radioactive contamination, controlled or uncontrolled.
Intentional loss: Including if the homeowner did an act on purpose with the intent to cause a loss.
Governmental action: Including the destruction, confiscation, or seizure of covered property by a governmental or public agency.
Loss to property: Including damage from faulty zoning, bad repair, or workmanship; faulty construction materials; and defective maintenance performed by the homeowner or others
How to Cover Excluded Perils
Fortunately, insurance companies have additional coverage that you can purchase to cover some excluded perils. Most often this is in the form of separate earthquake or flood insurance. You can also purchase separate coverage to protect the high-value items in your home, which are often not fully covered by your homeowner’s policy personal property coverage.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to ask questions your insurance agent questions if you’re confused about what your home’s insurance policy actually covers. You can then purchase additional coverage if you feel that you need it.