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Homeowners

Would my home insurance cover THAT?

Test your insurance knowledge

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Susan Meyer

Senior Editorial Manager

Credentials
  • 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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Ross Martin

Manager, Content Quality

Credentials
  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. As a licensed insurance agent, he specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers…

You know you need home insurance. After all, for the majority of Americans, your home is your largest asset[1]. And, if you have a mortgage, your bank even requires you to protect that asset. However, you likely don’t think too much about your home insurance coverage. Until, that is, something goes wrong. Then the big question is, will that be covered? 

If you caught our recent article on Would my auto insurance cover THAT?, today we’re giving the same treatment to home insurance. We’ll be looking at some likely (and less likely scenarios) to test your knowledge of what the average homeowners policy would cover.

What is the “average” homeowners policy?

First things first, we have to establish what kind of coverage is at play in our example. And it’s a bit more complicated than auto insurance where you likely have collision or comprehensive

The kind of coverage you have will depend on the type of home insurance policy. There are two main types of coverage: open and named peril. A peril is a cause of damage to you, your home or your belongings. Named perils means every peril that is covered will be listed. Open means that you can assume that most perils are covered, and instead exclusions or what is not covered will be written in the policy. 

The most common type of homeowners policy in the U.S. is called an HO-3 which would cover your home and other structures on the property on an open peril basis. It would cover your personal property from named perils.

Okay, now let’s look at a few scenarios and guess which claims would be paid out by your insurance company.

Named perils means every peril that is covered will be listed. Open means that you can assume that most perils are covered, and instead exclusions or what is not covered will be written in the policy.

The feisty ferret

You love entertaining. Unfortunately, your pet ferret Felix does not. At your annual Kentucky Derby Party, Felix is offended when a party-goer in a large hat pets him, and responds by biting her on the nose. You are very apologetic; Felix is not. Your guest requires medical treatment for her injury.

 ferret

Yes

Liability damages from pets are usually covered as a peril in open peril policies. And your policy will cover medical payments to others who are injured while on your property up to your policy limits. As a note, even in open peril policies, damage to your property from pets is often excluded. So if Felix starts to turn his wrath on your home or furnishings, you will likely be out of luck.

The voyage of the mermaid

Felix isn’t the only mayhem that lives in your home. Your recently potty-trained two-year-old has developed a love of flushing things down the toilet. She wants to see if her plastic mermaid toy can make it to the ocean! It does not. In fact, it gets stuck in the toilet which backs up and floods water all over the bathroom and out into the hall, damaging not only the hardwood floors but the expensive antique rug you keep in the fall.

 bathroom floor

Yes

The claim would likely be paid for both the damage to the structure and your personal property. Water damage from plumbing mishaps is one of the 16 named perils typically covered for personal property. It’s worth noting that flooding from inside the house causes is covered, but if the flooding were the result of a river overflowing due to heavy rain outside the house, you would likely need an additional flood insurance policy.

The unsettling crack

Once the plumbing situation is dealt with, you start to notice other issues around your home. A crack that was once a small feature of your dining room ceiling is now running the length of the room. It’s at its worst right after it rains. You’re told by the contractor you hire that it’s due to your home settling over time.

 crack

No

Unfortunately, one of the exclusions that applies to even open peril policies is damages done by your home settling. Repairs to a home’s foundation and the damage caused from them are usually up to the homeowner.

The space rock

Apparently, the chances of your house being struck by a meteorite are 1 in 3,921,910,064,328[2]. So it’s quite a surprise when a golden-retrieiver-sized piece of space rock goes hurtling through your garage roof. Your car wasn’t parked in there because you use your garage as a quilting studio, but all your expensive fabrics and other materials were. Alas, it bypasses your dining room entirely, so no luck trying to get a claim on that ceiling crack!

 meteor

Yes

Indeed, falling objects are covered and you could file claims for both the damage to the structure and your personal property therein. Luckily, it only hit your garage, but if your home was rendered uninhabitable during the repairs, the policy would also pay for somewhere for you to live.

We hope none of the above scenarios ever happen to you. But if they do, make sure you have home insurance coverage and know exactly what your policy covers and excludes.

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