Buying a home is exciting; putting a claim in for an insurance loss is, admittedly, less so. Homeowners need to understand what the homeowner’s insurance policy does and does not cover.
Many policies are named peril plans. These policies itemize what damages are covered and what events are covered. Anything that is not on the itemized list is not covered. Other policies, called all risk, cover everything except for itemized exclusions. Homeowners need to read and understand the exclusions before purchasing their insurance. In some cases, they should consider purchasing additional coverage, where available, to cover some of the listed exclusions.
Homeowners’ policies may exclude any (or all) of the following:
- Earth movement. This includes earthquakes, sinkholes, mudslides, and landslides.
- Floods generally means things like rivers that overflow or torrential rain. Generally, homeowners buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Wind damage. This coverage is tricky, because it often depends on if your home is in a hurricane area. Homeowners should check if they need additional coverage. If wind damage is covered in the home policy, the deductible may be higher.
- Mold damage. Whether mold is covered usually depends on the source of the mold. If the mold is due to leaks, defects in the way the home was built, or floods, then the mold damage is excluded. Mold that caused by a named loss may be covered.
- Wear and tear. Home insurance policies generally cover sudden or immediate damage from an event. They don’t cover damage due to long-term use. For example, roof damage due to a hurricane or tornado should be covered. Roof damage because the roof is 40-years-old and needs replacing is normally not covered.
- Damage due to bedbugs, termites, and other types of insects and vermin are normally excluded. Separate insurance for this type of damage may be available. Damages usually include the cost to get rid of the bugs and any damage to the structure of the property the insects cause.
- Dog bites. Here, the key is to read the policy. Some dog bites may be covered while bites by dogs known to be dangerous may not be covered. For example, bites by pit bulls and rottweilers may be excluded. Homeowners should check with their agent to determine if their dog is covered – before signing the policy.
- Eminent domain. Homeowner policies don’t normally cover any losses because the government takes some or all of your property. Homeowners are entitled to fair compensation for any taking by the government.
Other items that are commonly excluded:
- Power failure
- Intentional destruction of property
- Acts of war
- Damage due to zoning changes
- Faulty workmanship
Each insurance policy is a contract. The precise coverage terms should be detailed in the policy. In some cases, a third-party such as a neighbor or a utility may be liable for property damages.
The experienced Alabama and Florida insurance dispute lawyers at Warhurst Law understand the fine print in contracts. We understand how contracts should be interpreted and that any ambiguity in a contract should be read in favor of the insured. For help getting payment for damages to your property after a disaster, call Warhurst Law at 251.207.1296 or fill out our contact form to discuss your case. We represent policyholders across the Southeast including the Florida panhandle, the Gulf Coast, and throughout Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana.