But while such insurance is a must, that assurance can be misguided. Insurance doesn’t cover everything. In fact, companies are increasingly excluding events that might surprise many homeowners.
Here are some common exclusions you should be aware of:
Vacated property: If you leave your home unattended for 30 consecutive days, some companies will cancel your policy, as vacant homes are more susceptible to vandalism, theft, etc. (Some may offer a “vacancy permit” if you request it before leaving the home; this will allow some coverage to remain, for example for fire and wind damage, but will commonly still exclude theft, water damage or glass breakage.)
Animals: Although wild animal damage to your property is usually covered, that protection may not extend to personal property impacted by the event. For example, according to Allstate, “if a raccoon ravages your garage, homeowner’s insurance may help pay for repairs to the structure, but damage to the items you’ve stored inside the garage typically won’t be covered.” Also, notes Allstate, damage to your home from insects, rodents or birds is usually not covered by a standard policy.
Fungus: Insurance companies often exclude damage caused by mold, bacteria and fungi. They are most likely to pay if the mold was the result of a sudden event, like a pipe bursting, rather than a slow drip that should have been fixed. Bodily injury from such elements is commonly excluded.
Trees: If you haven’t maintained your trees and a large branch or entire tree falls on your home during a storm, you may not be covered for the damage. (For example, if the tree was rotten and hadn’t been removed, or if an overhanging branch hadn’t been trimmed, you might be deemed at fault.)
Moral of the story? Read your policy carefully. Knowing what’s covered and what isn’t allows you to consider ways to protect yourself.