Imagine your home is damaged. You call your insurance agent to report the claim. And then you hear the worst news possible, “I’m sorry. That’s not covered by your policy.”
Now, you have a real problem.
The unfortunate truth is no insurance policy covers you for everything that could possibly happen to you or your property. However, with a little bit of understanding you can make sure you have the protection you want … and make sure your claims get paid by the insurance company.
Beware: It’s Not Always Covered
Just because you have an insurance policy that doesn’t mean your home is covered for everything.
Your home policy doesn’t cover you against every “cause of loss”.
Fire is a cause of loss. High wind is a cause of loss. These are also known as “perils” in insurance terminology.
A standard home policy excludes many causes of loss. That is, it does NOT protect you from certain perils – like earthquake, flood and surface water, termite damage and many more. That means if your home is damaged by one of these excluded perils your policy will not respond. You have no insurance against them.
If you want insurance against some of these perils, you can buy it … like earthquake or flood insurance. However, some excluded perils are not insurable … like insect damage. Be sure to discuss your policy exclusions with a broker in our office and buy the protection you really need. Don’t be caught by surprise after the damage is done. It’s too late to buy insurance then.
Special Limits On Personal Property
As if your home policy wasn’t complicated enough already it includes “special limits” of protection for some of your personal property. A “special limit” reduces the protection specifically available for certain types of property.
Property subject to a special limit typically includes … property used for business … cash & coin collections … jewelry & furs … guns … silverware … and more.
Additionally, some of these special limits apply only if the property is lost or stolen – making things just a little more confusing.
For example, the standard home policy typically includes only $1,000 of protection for stolen jewelry. If your $2,500 diamond engagement ring is stolen you’ll get only $1,000 from the insurance company. Ouch! And, if the stone falls out of the ring and is lost, there may be NO coverage at all!
The bottom line is it’s very important you fully discuss these conditions and special limits with your broker and buy the protection you need. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a very nasty surprise … an unpaid claim!
Conducting Business At Home
WARNING! Your home policy has very strict limits and rules about business conducted at home. The protection offered by your policy is severely limited if your claim arises from business activities. Your business property has very little coverage. And in some cases you may have no liability protection at all.
This is not something to take lightly and just assume everything will be fine. Be sure to discuss your home business activities with a licensed broker in our office to make sure you’re still protected.
Other Exclusions and Options
The standard home policy excludes protection for many things. But then the insurance company gives you an opportunity to buy some of them back.
Additionally, you have the option of increasing protection where you personally need it.
There are literally dozens of optional coverages available in your home policy. Here are some of the more common options available to you:
Identity Theft – many home insurers now offer protection for Identity Theft in their home policies. This will help pay the expenses you incur to restore your identity if it’s stolen.
Water & Sewage Backup – the standard home policy excludes damage caused by a water or sewage system backup. You can buy this protection if you want it.
Ordinance & Law –– pays the increased costs of repairing or rebuilding your home that are a result of changes in local building codes. For example, your home has single paned windows. After a loss, the local building department requires double-paned windows. This endorsement pays for the increased cost required by the new building code or bylaw.
Packaged Endorsements – often times an insurance company will package the optional coverages people most commonly buy into a single endorsement. That means for a lower price you can get several optional coverages added to your policy.
There are many more optional coverage and exclusion buy-backs your broker can explain to you. Take a few moments to understand them and make good decisions about your protection.