12 things standard home insurance doesn't cover

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Courtney Roy

Insurtech Writer | Contributor

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty
  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Life
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Courtney Roy is an insurtech writer and expert in multiple lines of insurance. As an insurance agent, he sat across the kitchen table to help people …

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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Susan is a licensed insurance agent and has worked as a writer and editor for over 10 years across a number of industries. She has worked at The Zebr…

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Homeowners insurance covers your home’s physical structure and contents. It safeguards against perils like falling objects, fire or theft. Additionally, home insurance offers liability defense against lawsuits arising from a guest’s claim for personal injury or property damage.

However, a homeowners insurance policy does not cover every peril that can happen to your property. An exclusion is something your policy doesn’t cover. 

In other cases, insurers may cover something but only in a surprisingly limited fashion. So, you may need a rider, also called an endorsement, for adequate coverage. A rider expands your coverage to add extra protection for specific needs.

With that in mind, below are 12 things your standard homeowners policy likely won’t cover.

1. Aggressive dog breeds

You may love your furry friend, but depending on its breed, your insurance company may not. Homeowners insurance pays for medical and legal costs resulting from dog attacks. However, some dog breeds and dogs with a record of biting may not be covered. That said, several dog-friendly insurance providers will be happy to protect your pooch.

If your dog is one of the following breeds, make sure to compare multiple insurers:

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Akita
  • Cane Corso
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Mastiff
  • Pit Bull
  • Presa Canario
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf hybrid

2. Construction damage

A typical homeowners insurance policy won’t protect you against any losses or damage from remodeling your home. Also, you may be liable for injuries to workers and can easily fall into a gray area. Both issues are solid reasons to only allow licensed, bonded and insured contractors to work on your home.

3. Earthquakes

Policies exclude damage from earthquakes, landslides, mudflows, mudslides, shock waves, sinkholes, tremors, volcanic eruptions or other ground movements.

However, earth movement-related explosions or fire damage are covered. Additionally, theft after an earthquake is covered. So, suppose a burglar breaks into a damaged area of your home after an earthquake and steals your belongings. In that case, insurance will likely cover the cost of replacing your stuff.

To be covered if you live in an earthquake-prone area, you will need to contact your insurance company to see if they provide earthquake endorsements. If your insurance company doesn’t offer an earthquake endorsement, you can often get a homeowners earthquake insurance policy by contacting your state’s department of insurance.

4. Flooding

Your homeowners policy won’t cover flooding related to rain, sewer, sump pump backups or underground water. To get flood coverage, you need a separate flood policy or endorsement to your standard policy.

That said, burst pipes or broken water heaters that cause damage will be covered. Similarly, you would probably be covered for repairs if any excluded water damage resulted directly from a fire or explosion.

5. Government action

Homeowners insurance does not cover the cost of replacing your home or possessions if they are damaged or destroyed by a governmental entity.

6. Home-based businesses

Your homeowners won’t cover a home-based business such as a daycare. Additionally, policies only provide modest protection for business property ($2,500). For proper protection, you’ll need an endorsement or separate home-based business insurance policy.

7. Intentional damage by residents

Home insurance does not cover any willful loss or damage you or any in-house family members committed. So, for example, if your dog chews through part of your house, causing considerable damage, you’ll have to pay for the repairs. (Still love that dog?)

8. Mold

It’s challenging to determine if mold damage is covered by homeowners insurance because it all depends on the original cause of the mold problem. Generally, your home insurance won’t cover remediation for mold brought on by flooding, leaks or negligence.

9. Pest, termites and other infestations

Homeowners insurance rarely covers damage caused by animals, including bats, bees, bedbugs, rats, termites or other infestations. Therefore, property owners are solely responsible for pest control.

10. Poor maintenance or neglect

Homeowners must take reasonable steps to safeguard their property. In other words, basic maintenance and wear and tear are typically not covered by homeowners insurance. So, for example, if your AC goes out in the middle of the summer, you’ll have to pay to fix it. The only time the AC would be covered is if it were damaged by cover peril like a fire, theft or vandalism.

If you notice an issue in need of repair, it's important to address it quickly. If say a pipe breaks and leaks water over several months causing damage to your floors, your insurance company will likely not pay for the repairs to the floors if they believe the damage occurred because you neglected to repair the issue in a timely fashion. This is one of the reasons insurance companies generally charge more for vacant homes, since there's a greater liability in no one being around to maintain them and notice things in need of repair. 

11. War

Your home insurance coverage does not cover damage brought on by any type of warfare, including civil war, nuclear war or declared or undeclared war.

12. Valuables beyond coverage limits

If you have valuables, there are specific coverage limits for them. Below is a table that lists the limits. If you need more coverage, consider a rider or scheduled property endorsement to insure your valuables.

Property type Coverage limit
Business property $2,500 (on-premises)
Electronics $1,000 to $2,000 (varies by insurer)
Firearms $2,500 (theft only)
Jewelry and watches $1,500 (theft only)
Money, coins and gold $200
Silverware $2,500 (theft only)

Check your policy

If you’re unsure what’s covered, scan your policy. And if you’re still a bit fuzzy, call a customer service agent. Unfortunately, too many homeowners assume something is covered only to find out it’s not when they file a claim. Another common outcome is they’re shocked to find the limits of coverage won’t adequately compensate for their loss.

To avoid any nightmares, review your policy at least once a year. Also, it may be an excellent time to see if you have the most affordable rate for the protection you need.