What Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
The purpose of homeowners insurance is to protect your home from theft or damage, but how much coverage you get on your home is up to you. What’s not up to you is the fine print— meaning your provider may have numerous exclusions you’re unaware of.
Everyone has must-have coverage options. Some people are willing to pay top dollar, while others look for ways to save.
To know what you need and don’t need, you first have to know what comes in your homeowners insurance coverage and what doesn’t.
What doesn’t homeowners insurance protect you from?
What doesn’t homeowners insurance cover? Typically, the items listed below are not covered.
Flood insurance covers damage to your home and belongings caused by floods. If you live in a flood-prone area, you need a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program or through your insurance provider to get flood insurance. If you live in a high-risk area, you may be required to purchase this type of coverage. Flood insurance will also cover you in a mudslide. The cost of flood insurance varies state by state.
Hurricanes and tornadoes
Read through your policy. Depending on where you live, your insurance provider may not cover hurricane or tornado damage caused by wind.
However, most policies do cover it, but if there is any doubt speak to an agent.
What your policy will most likely not cover is flood damage caused by hurricanes and tornadoes. For that, you will need to work through the NFIP for specific homeowners insurance types that cover flooding caused by natural disasters
Power failures can cause costs for several reasons. One of the most common is the costs of food spoiling if the power is out for a significant time. Other potential problems can cause more severe damage, such as if the power failure is caused by lightning or a power failure during a winter storm causes your pipes to burst.
Whether your provider will reimburse you for costs depends on the cause and if you have any fault in the damages. For example, if your pipes burst during a winter storm that causes a power failure, your provider will probably help. However, if you don’t turn on your heating and the pipes burst because you’ve neglected that responsibility, your provider likely won’t pay for the claim.
If you live in an area with frequent earthquakes or is along a fault line that could indicate future earthquakes in your area, you will need to add earthquake coverage if you want protection, as it does not come with standard packages. Not all carriers offer earthquake coverage. If they do, it’s possible they don’t offer it in your state. Your state’s department of insurance may have providers that offer earthquake coverage on its website
Premiums typically range from $100 to $800 annually, depending on where you live and how much protection you want.
Rodents, birds, vermin and insects are all considered preventable and your responsibility as the homeowner. Though getting rid of squirrels in the attic is difficult, it is possible. Insurance providers do not consider it their problem should any animal or insect cause damage to your home.
If the mold occurs because of a covered peril, your provider will cover the damage. If it is from neglect, your provider will not cover any damage from mold.
Insurance companies are forbidden by law to offer any protection from nuclear hazards. No homeowner is protected from nuclear hazards.
War, terrorism, insurrection and civil war are not covered under homeowners insurance. For the most part, insurance companies are not obligated to pay for events that would bankrupt them.
What things should you consider extra coverage for?
What your insurance provider covers and doesn’t cover depends on your provider, where you live and what policy you have. There are many different homeowners insurance types.
For example, if you live in Tennessee, you should strongly consider getting sinkhole coverage, as many parts of the state have limestone beneath the surface, which is porous and prone to becoming cavernous.
In Oklahoma, depending on what part of the state you’re in, you may be subject to frequent tornadoes. In that case, you will want to review your policy for statements about wind damage, and you should also research flood insurance.
Regardless of what part of the country you’re in, consider the following additional coverage options.
Air conditioning units
Your policy likely will only replace your AC unit if it is damaged from a covered peril. The issue is that it is considered personal property and not a part of the structure of your property. Many insurance agencies offer appliance coverage that cover AC units. Review your policy, understand what type of damage is covered and consider adding additional appliance coverage.
Your provider likely will only cover for tree removal if it falls on your home or outside structures, and sometimes if one falls across your driveway. If the tree falls across your yard, you may be responsible for the whole bill unless you are able to tack tree removal as an add-on. You may have a homeowners insurance coverage amount limit, too, meaning the provider will remove trees up to a certain dollar amount.
Your policy will likely cover any damage from a sudden plumbing malfunction. However, if the damage was caused by a slow leak, and is something that was considered preventable, your provider may deny you coverage.
Depending on your home, you may want to inquire about sewer or water backup rider, sump pump rider and a mold damage rider. You can do research about your home’s vulnerability to flooding by visiting FEMA’s flood map.
Roof damage that is sudden is usually covered by a standard policy. Damage that is minor and gradual is more difficult to get covered because it will most likely be deemed cosmetic or something that was your responsibility to fix before the damage got worse. Ask your provider about additional coverage options.
Your provider most likely offers an ‘other structures’ rider or add-on. Though your pool isn’t covered in a standard policy, it usually is included in the other structures add-on. Pools cost a lot of money, and the systems within them can be damaged in a storm. Additional coverage would likely be a wise investment. Just make sure you understand what the policy would cover and what it would not.
If you have an older home, usually one built between 1965 and 1973, you may have aluminum wiring. If you do, it’s possible your provider may not cover any damage from faulty electrical wiring. Others will, but will charge you a higher rate. Contact a provider and ask an agent about electrical insurance for older homes. You may be able to simply pay a higher premium, or you may need to purchase additional coverage.
Home insurance doesn’t cover everything. Understand what comes with your policy and what doesn’t, keeping in mind common perils that accompany where you live. Check your policy to see what the exceptions are, and remember that any damage you could have prevented by taking care of your home will likely not be covered. You may want to pay for additional coverage for certain things so that you, your home and everything and everyone within it is safe and secure.