What you Should know about Exclusions in your Home Owners Insurance Policy

It is important to know what is not covered in standard homeowners 

 insurance policy a when you are buying your home insurance . For example most 

don’t cover floods or earthquakes.  Check out this week’s blog to learn more.

TOP FIVE MOST COMMON THINGS NOT COVERED BY YOUR HOMEOWNERS POLICY

1. Flood Damage;                         

2. Earthquake Damage;

3. Luxury Items Lost; 

4.  Home Business Items; 

5. Aggressive Dog Breeds.

Buying a home is usually one of the biggest investments of most consumer’s lives. One of the first things people generally do before they finalize the sale is to obtain homeowners insurance on the property. Many people think that having homeowner’s insurance in and of itself will protect them in all circumstances. It’s often too late when homeowner’s find out that things they thought they were covered for they are not. It is extraordinarily important to protect your family and your life’s investment of your home by knowing the exclusions that are in the policy before you need to make any claims. There are common exclusions that are generally found in most standard homeowners policies. This is perhaps the most important section that you should look at when you receive your homeowner’s policy or ask the purchasing agent about when buying your policy. All policies have different exclusions but many have standard exclusions.  You do not want to learn of the exclusions at the time you need to make a claim. For example, flood insurance is almost never covered in a standard homeowners policy if the flood water comes from somewhere off of your property. If this is the case, and you live in a flood region, you will need to look into flood insurance. In addition, most policies do not cover things like earthquakes, landslides, mold, wear and tear, bug infestations, wind or hurricane damage or construction needed to bring your home up to code. It is important that your review the exclusions in the policy you are purchasing. If you live in an area of a country where your home may be prone to a landslide or an earthquake or a flood or any other damaging incident that is specifically excluded in the policy, you will need to look into other coverage or determine if they provide that type of insurance for a different expense.   The following is a list of the ten most common exclusions in your standard homeowner’s policy.

  1. Water Damage

Water damage sustained by your home is often not covered by your standard policy of homeowners insurance. This generally includes flood damage or damage related to sewer system issues.  This is likely the trickiest area in homeowners insurance. It is standard that floodwaters that come from an outside source such as a raging river, typhoon, or excess rain water that creeps into the house are not covered by standard homeowner’s policy. If you live in a flood prone area, near large bodies of water or just in a state where flooding is common, it is extremely important that you purchase flood insurance on your property. A standard homeowner’s policy generally does not cover flood damage for water that comes from an outside source. 

Sometimes damage to your home from water can be covered if it occurs from a “sudden and unexpected occurrence.” This is extremely important to note. This means that if you have a toilet overflow while you were out of the house that causes extreme damage or a burst pipe, that damage may be covered under your homeowner’s policy because it is “sudden and unexpected.” However, if you have water damage from a long time leaking pipe that is a maintenance issue that will not likely be covered under your homeowner’s policy. In addition, if you have water back up and sump discharge or overflow, coverage is usually available for these type of issues as an add on. Sump pumps are usually found in homes with basements and if you have a basement you may want to talk to your agent about getting coverage for damage that may be caused by a sump pump overflow.

  1. Earthquake

Many people are shocked to learn that most homeowner’s insurance policies usually exclude “earth movement“ for example earthquakes, sinkholes, and mudflows. While you’re basic homeowners insurance may not cover these type of damages, you can easily add that type of coverage. Earthquake and earth movement such as a sinkhole or landslide coverage is typically not even available as a separate policy but rather  it is generally an “add on“ to your current insurance coverage. Therefore, if you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes, you should add that coverage to your policy

  1. Intentional acts exclusion

This exclusion means that any damage that is intentionally caused by you or someone in your home is not covered under your homeowner’s policy. Meaning if you have a situation where you or resident causes extensive damage to the home, on purpose, it will not be covered under the policy.  In some policies this can also apply to damage that they deem could be “preventable. This can apply to a long-term maintenance issue that causes extensive damage that was not fixed by the homeowner. If you have a question on a homeowner’s claim that is not clear on its face, you would be well served to contact an attorney to discuss the claim prior to contacting your insurance company. It is important to remember that insurance companies are often trying to find a way not to pay for your claim. Therefore, if something unusual occurs that cause’s extensive damage to your home, call TheOneLawyer.com before you contact your insurance company to discuss your claim and your policy.

  1. City Or County Code Violations

If there comes a time when your property is deemed out of code and no longer up to the standard building code regulations in your area, you cannot make a claim on your homeowners policy to cover the cost of upgrading your property to meet the new building codes. However, you can obtain an endorsement that is generally called “rebuilding ordinance or law coverage endorsement” to your policy. In Nevada, this may not come up with any regularity but if you are purchasing a home that is extremely old you may want to discuss this type of coverage with your agent.

  1. High-value Items

Most homeowner’s policies have a limit that they will pay out for expensive items such as coin collections, jewelry, instruments etc. The list of high price tag items is endless and if you are in possession of specific items of any large value you must get a rider on your policy to cover those specific items. Sometimes, you may have seen the Antiques Roadshow that  the appraisers will always give the participants an “insurance value“ meaning that you need to insure specific high dollar items independently on your homeowner’s policy. When you go to purchase your homeowners policy you would be well served to bring a list of expensive items that you own to discuss with the agent and make sure your policy will cover those items. In addition, I would send a letter to my agent after your meeting listing the items that are being insured and advise that you have been told by your agent that your policy will cover said items. Finally, you also want to photograph those items and keep them somewhere off property in the event that your home is damaged , vandalized or robbed in the future to show proof of ownership.  Again,  it is important to note that insurance companies will not always  be on your side when they are negotiating your claim.

  1. Identity Theft

Most people know that this is not a covered item on a homeowner’s policy. However many main stream carriers are now offering this policy in conjunction with bundling other policies like auto and home. This is a very important coverage to have in this day and age. This can be more costly to your overall well-being then a fire in your home. Be sure to ask your agent or your company if they offer this type of policy.  At TheOneLawyer.com we highly recommend that you obtain this coverage independently if it is not available through your carrier

  1. Aggressive Dogs In Certain Breeds Of Dogs

It is becoming more and more common for homeowners insurance companies to specifically exclude certain breeds of dogs. This would affect you if your dog falls into one of those categories and bites someone. Having worked for insurance company for many years, I often saw certain breeds of dogs engaged in more aggressive behavior than other breeds. I am a diehard dog lover so I tend to love animals and want to protect them.   However, it is important that you protect your family in the event that your dog is spooked or for some reason becomes aggressive and bites a visitor. Even the sweetest dogs are capable inflicting harm if they become scared for some reason. If you own one of the breeds that are often excluded by certain carriers, you need to shop different carriers because not all companies exclude certain breeds of dogs.

If you obtain a pet after you buy your homeowner’s policy, be sure to call them and advise that you now have a pet. If you advised your company that you did not have a pet when you purchased the policy, but you later have a pet, you need to contact them and make sure that your pet is  covered on your policy.

  1. Pools and Trampolines. 

I do not believe this is a common exclusion but I have seen policies over the years that exclude pools and trampolines from coverage when accidents are subject to lawsuit. It is important to ask your agent if your policy has such an exclusion if you have a pool or trampoline. Again, this is not a common exclusion but I have seen it and if someone is injured in your pool or on a trampoline at your property and sues you, you want to be covered by your homeowner’s policy. Be sure to check for this exclusion before purchasing your coverage if this applies to you. 

This brings me to another valuable point,  and where this situation is most likely to arise.  If you add a pool to your property or trampoline after you purchase the property, you absolutely need to contact your homeowners company and advise them to add this to your policy.   If you purchased a policy and you wrote on the application that you had neither a pool nor a trampoline and an accident occurs arising from either one, you may be personally liable for the damages and your company may not cover you because this was not part of the policy you purchased. 

  1. Defamation Claims

This may seem kind of crazy at first but in 15 years of practicing law, I have seen much crazier. Let’s say your neighbor sues you for defamation of character because you said something while you were running for the board of directors and they believe that you defamed them in the process. Homeowners insurance does offer personal liability coverage when you are responsible for an injury to someone else arising out of the ownership of your home. It will depend greatly on how the policy is worded whether or not you would be covered for this type of event. I have seen it go both ways over the years and  I believe that most policies are written somewhat vaguely when it comes to personal liability. Therefore, this may be covered under some policies. 

  1. Business Claims

More and more people are working at home in the age of the internet and certainly in the age of COVID-19. If you are doing business from your home it is important to tell your agent and discuss business insurance with them. Most homeowner’s policies exclude home run businesses. Therefore, any of your equipment that you use, which could be extensive in some cases, would not be covered under a standard homeowner’s policy. Just because your business is from your home does not make it covered on the homeowner’s policy. If you are operating a business out of your home and you have extensive equipment or inventory, you really need to have a business policy. You can generally obtain one through your same company. It is my experience that they are not very expensive and are usually in the neighborhood of $400 to $800 per year depending on the level of equipment and inventory that you maintain.

These are the most common exclusions that are found in most homeowner’s policies and I hope reading this blog has reminded you to contact your agent or make an appointment and sit down and determine exactly what’s covered under your policy and determine if you need to put any riders on your policy.   Whether it be for a home business, additional pets, modifications to your home, or the purchase of high dollar items, you need to make sure you are covered. At TheOneLawyer.com we urge our clients to review their policies every few years to make sure they are covered. Please feel free to contact us for a free insurance review to discuss your coverages. 

If you were a loved one has any question about insurance or has been injured in any type of accident please call the offices of TheOneLawyer.com today. We are a boutique law firm providing experienced and personal representation to injured clients.  At the Law Offices of Laura Payne-Hunt, TheOneLawyer.com we provide professional and personal service to each and every one of our clients on various legal matters and have over 15 years of experience in reviewing insurance policies and in Nevada insurance law.   If you have a question regarding any type of personal injury or paying your medical bills from an accident, please don’t hesitate to call the offices of TheOneLawyer.com and speak directly to attorney Laura Marie Payne-Hunt, Esq. a Henderson Injury Attorney for over 15 years.  Laura is recognized as one of Nevada’s Top 100 Lawyers.  She has the experience and knowledge to obtain the maximum settlement you deserve.  Please call our office if you or a loved one is injured.  We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence.  

At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to.  Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities.  They want to pay as little on every claim as possible.  Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I have reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.   

At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury law offices of TheOneLaweyer.com, Laura Marie Payne-Hunt and her staff are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur.  For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices.  TheOneLawyer.com is a boutique, family owned law firm that specializes in helping injured people and the community of Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, product liability claims, and all types of injury claims.  Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.