Homeowners Policies: 6 Things You Think Are Covered but Actually Aren’t

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If you own a home, there’s a pretty good chance you have a homeowner’s insurance policy. Whether because you want it to protect your home or because your mortgage company requires it. But is there anything that’s not covered by your homeowner’s policy? That’s the question we’re going to answer today.

Understanding No Absolutes

To answer that question, I have to start off by saying that there are no absolutes when speaking of insurance policies and what’s covered and what’s not. It depends on what state you’re in, which insurance company you have, and what kind of homeowner’s policy you have. For this blog, we’re going to talk as if we have a standard Pennsylvania HO-5 homeowner’s policy.

1. Flooding

So, the first thing that many people think is covered under their homeowner’s policy, but is actually not, is flooding. You have no coverage on your homeowner’s policy if your house was to be flooded. Also, in most policies, you don’t have coverage if water seeps in from your sump-pump or through the sump-hole in your basement, or backup of drains or backup of sewers.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a specialty insurance policy offered through the government and is a stand-alone flood insurance policy. If your home is in a flood zone your mortgage company will require you to have a flood policy. If your home is not in a flood zone, we take them on a
case by case basis because flood insurance policies can be pretty expensive. We do, however, highly recommend adding the backup of sewer and drain coverage to your policy as it provides important coverage at a reasonable rate.

2. Earth Movement

Another type of hazard that is not covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy is earth movement. Things like earthquakes, sinkholes, landslides, and other forms of “earth movement” are not covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. Many insurance companies do offer extra endorsements that will cover earthquakes and sinkholes. You will want to talk to your insurance agent to discuss if these are valuable coverages and worth the cost, depending on where your home is located.

3. Animal Damage

Another common question we get a lot from homeowners is, “do I have coverage for the damage an animal caused to my home?” Homeowners deal with a variety of pests from termites, bees, squirrels, mice, raccoons, to a number of other insects and rodents. Damage caused to your home from animals is not covered under your homeowner’s policy. It is your job as the homeowner to keep these critters out and not allow them entrance where they can cause internal damage to your home. Many of our customers have annual contracts with local exterminators which is a great way to keep pests out and avoid larger issues year-round.

4. A Lack of Maintenance

While a homeowner’s policy protects the home from most natural hazards, it does not protect it from lack of maintenance. In the same way that your auto policy doesn’t cover your brakes or tires on your car, your homeowner’s policy won’t cover common “wear and tear”. For example, it will not cover rot, rust, mold, or other issues to the home that develops over time and you should have been addressing. Some other common issues that are not covered are manufacture defects and this goes without saying but intentional acts are not covered. So, if you don’t like your garage door, you can’t go out and spray paint your garage door and say it was vandalized to get a new garage door. That would be considered an intentional act, or insurance fraud.

5. War or Explosions

Believe it or not, there are some potential threats that are just too big for an insurance company to provide coverage for, and some examples would be war and nuclear explosions. If a nuclear bomb would go off, it would cause absolute devastation to a city and a large surrounding region. The insurance industry isn’t large enough by itself to endure such a tragedy and would need assistance from the Federal Government.

6. Ordinance and Law

The last element not covered is ordinance and law. This refers to the extra rebuilding cost to satisfy new building codes or laws. For example, if you finish your basement and it includes a bedroom, then five years later, the township mandates “two means of egress from a basement that has living quarters”. If your house burns down and you want to build the basement back up the way it was before, the township will require two means of egress. In order to comply with the new building codes, it may cost an additional $5,000, and this would not be covered on your homeowner’s policy.

Have Other Questions?

As stated earlier, there are no absolutes when it comes to insurance. If you have any questions on what is covered and what isn’t on your specific policy, reach out to us would be happy to help you walk through it.

If you have any more questions, check out our new website. It has all of this
information on it, plus tons more. If you have any other questions, feel free to give us a call, shoot us an email. We’re here to help you answer any questions, whether you’re a current customer or not, we’re here and happy to help however we can. At Susquehanna Insurance, we bring clarity and simplicity to your insurance needs!



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