With more than 5% of homeowners filing a claim in 2014, according to the Insurance Information Institute
, it’s critical to know what your policy covers. While your home insurance policy contains a variety of coverage types meant to protect your home and any personal belongings, what about guests visiting your home? Luckily, the liability coverage of your home insurance policy protects your guests if they get hurt while on your property.
Preventing injury or damage altogether represents the best step to take, as a claim on your home insurance can increase your premiums by more than 30%, according to InsuranceQuotes.com
. But to hazard-proof your house, you need to know the most common house liabilities.
The following article presents the five most common house liabilities, with Part 1 discussing potential damage from falling objects, Part 2 covering dog bites, Part 3 talking about falls, Part 4 explaining what happens when your home suffers damage from a vehicle, and Part 5 describing the different types of water damage covered.
Part 1 of 5: Damage from falling objects around your home
While not covered under your home insurance liability coverage, falling objects do receive coverage as a part of your main dwelling coverage. Falling objects are considered a covered peril on most home insurance policies. The stipulation is that the object must directly strike your home. So, if an object falls close by and rattles your home but does not strike it, then the insurance company will not cover any damaged personal belongings from the vibrations caused by the falling object.
In addition, make sure to get the damage fixed as soon as possible to prevent further damage from exposure to the elements. If that happens, then more than likely the damage won’t be covered by your homeowners policy.
Part 2 of 5: Dog bites at home
Any guest bitten by a dog at your house are most often covered under your home insurance liability coverage. Your policy might exclude certain dog breeds, so make sure to read your policy to make sure your breed is not excluded. Some home insurance companies allow you to purchase additional coverage for breeds not covered. At the very least, you could purchase an umbrella policy (which is extra liability insurance) if your insurer does not provide coverage for your dog’s breed.
Ultimately, keeping your pet away from visitors, especially if it doesn’t do well with others, represents one of the best ways to keep from having to file a dog bite claim on your insurance policy. The dog breeds most commonly excluded on home insurance policies include:
- Chow chows
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Great Danes
- Pit bulls
- Staffordshire Terriers
- Wolf Hybrids
Part 3 of 5: Falls in your home
Your home insurance policy more than likely covers any injury from a fall by a guest at your home. Most of the time, the bodily injury liability portion of your homeowners policy works in conjunction with the medical payments portion of your policy to pay for any reasonable or necessary medical expenses for non-residents injured on your property. This includes covering you if your guest makes a claim of negligence on your part, such as a problem with your home that existed which caused the fall in the first place.
Repairing loose carpeting and tiles and removing tripping hazards represent just some of the steps you can take to prevent a fall on your property. The costs that “guest medical” covers includes:
- Any necessary medical or surgical expenses
- Ambulance service
- Hospital costs
- Purchase of prosthetic devices
- The service of a professional nurse (such as for home hospice care)
- Dental work
- Funeral services
Part 4 of 5: Vehicle damage
If your home gets damaged by a vehicle, don’t expect your homeowners policy to cover the damage. In this case, the car insurance liability of the driver responsible for the damage covers the claim. Keep in mind that many car insurance property damage liability policies only provide payment up to a certain maximum amount.
Even if the driver’s insurance policy does not cover all of the damages due to liability limits on their policy, check your homeowners insurance to see if it has a provision listing damage from a vehicle as a covered peril. If it does, then your policy should cover any additional damage above and beyond what the car insurance policy covers.
In addition, the high deductibles of many home insurance policies make it cost prohibitive to file a claim on your policy for vehicle damage. Depending on the amount, you might consider paying for any remaining damage out of pocket and avoid filing a claim that can lead to higher premiums.
Part 5 of 5: Water damage
Most home insurance policies list water damage as a covered peril, as long as the damage comes from a leak that originates in your home. Most policies do not cover damage from flooding resulting from a source outside of your home. For that, insurers offer flood insurance, which is an entirely separate policy. Other damage resulting from a flood, such as vandalism, theft, or fire, are covered by your home insurance policy.
One condition that can result from flooding, the onset of mold, is not covered by many home insurance policies. Luckily, some insurers offer optional mold coverage, so ask an agent for more information.
A home insurance policy covers a lot of damage, including damage to property for you and bodily injury for your guests. For the most part, unless the policy explicitly excludes a peril, expect to receive coverage if your home gets damaged by water, fire, falling objects, theft, or vandalism.