7 Types of Damage Your Homeowner's Insurance Won't Cover, and How to Avoid Them
Carrying homeowners insurance is enough to protect your home from a myriad of potential threats to your home, such as fire, theft, vandalism, and loss of property. However, there are a series of potential problems that may arise which your insurance may not cover. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with your policy and think about these additional potential problems, so you can make plans to avoid them.
- Standard Wear and Tear
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect you in the event of an accident, as most of us are not prepared to pay out of pocket for emergencies. Everything becomes old and takes damage over time. Homes will have normal wear and tear as the years go by. It is your responsibility as a homeowner to keep up with basic maintenance of your home. It's a good idea to fix leaks right away, so they don't cause extensive damage like flooding or warping of your floors. You should also replace old flooring, or shingles on your home's roof that have worn out over time. If you take good care of your home and perform basic maintenance on a regular basis, you should avoid the extensive and costly damages that come from neglect.
- Neglect or Poor Maintenance
Speaking of neglect, your homeowners insurance company will not cover damages that come from you neglecting your basic duties as a homeowner. If you fail to repair leaking pipes, or replace shingles on the roof, you may end up with expensive problems that your insurance company will not pay to repair. After all, a small leak in the roof will only remain small for so long. To avoid losing a claim due to neglect, perform regular maintenance on the house. Have working fire extinguishers and smoke detectors in your home. Examine the exterior regularly. Address electrical repairs as problems arise. Always hire licensed and competent contractors to perform maintenance on your home.
- Earthquakes, Sinkholes, and Landslides
Earthquakes are not typically covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy, and may require the purchase of a supplemental policy. Movement of the earth, such as landslides and sinkholes, are also not included. These incidents are rare, so you probably won't need this type of coverage. It's a good idea to take a look at local data and the history of the area in which you live to determine whether or not to purchase this extra coverage. Unfortunately, these types of rare problems can't always be avoided.
- Mold Damage
Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover mold damage that occurs as a result of water damage from leaks or floods. Some policies will cover mold that happens immediately as a result of a leak in plumbing, for example, but there may be a certain time threshold for which you can make a claim to fix the problem. Whether or not mold is covered really depends on what caused the mold in the first place. There are ways to avoid mold growth in your home. For instance, you can control the moisture and humidity levels in your home. If an appliance, such as the refrigerator, leaks water on the floors or walls, make sure you dry the wet areas immediately. Repair leaks when they happen as quickly as possible. Check ventilation and air filtration regularly.
- Pest Infestations
Your standard homeowners insurance policy will exclude damage to your home and your personal belongings that are caused by pests. Pests that can cause damage to your home and belongings include bedbugs, termites, rats, mice, and fabric-eating moths. For example, termites, when left unchecked, can cause severe structural damage to your home. Part of regular maintenance on your home should include a type of pest control to prevent these types of infestations.
- War and Nuclear Damage
Hopefully, you will never have to take measures to protect your home from damage that may be caused by war or nuclear weapons. However, if a nuclear bomb drops in your neighborhood or war breaks out and your home is damaged due to the unexpected invasion, your insurance company is not going to cover those damages. To avoid damages caused by war and nuclear fallout, try not to purchase a home in a war zone.
- Acts of Government
Your homeowners insurance company has no control over actions the government might take, and can't do anything to prevent it. For example, if the government confiscates or seizes your property for any reason, your insurance policy is not going to pay a claim requesting compensation to cover the loss. If the SWAT team breaks down your door at two in the morning (even if they meant to break down your neighbor's door instead), your homeowners policy is not going to pay to replace the front door. There are few exceptions to this type of exclusion. However, there may be a way to take action against the government entity that caused the damage to try to recover your losses, or receive compensation in the event that your home or property was seized. For example, if the government must destroy your home to pave way for a new public school, they have to pay you. In this instance, the government would be exercising eminent domain, in which they have the right to take private land for public use. The government should offer a fair price for the land and property, but there may be disagreements about what amount of compensation is fair. Regardless, the insurance company will likely not involve themselves, as this act of government is not covered on a standard policy.
It's a good idea to review your policy thoroughly and know what your insurance policy covers. The last thing you want is to find out that your policy is not going to cover you when you're knee-deep in an expensive problem. You can either take steps to avoid these problems or purchase additional coverage and endorsements that will offer you more protection than you currently have. If you have questions about coverage, you can always ask your insurance carrier.