Homeowners insurance is a must-have for any homeowner, be it a first-time owner or a long time owner. We shop for it with certain events in mind. Fire, water damage and theft are the primary incidents that homeowners worry about, but this coverage can also help with events like liability for injuries and damage to a neighbor’s property. What you may not realize is homeowners covers several circumstances that you probably never think about, but may need in the future. Here are several items you didn’t know homeowners insurance covers.
Food In The Refrigerator
This one might seem small, but if you have a fridge or freezer full of valuable food, this coverage can really make the difference. Say you just loaded up your deep freeze with a bunch of expensive meat like lobster. If a storm rolls through and knocks out power for even a few hours, much of the food in your fridge and freezer may become unsafe to eat. You may be eligible to file a claim for that lost food, but there are exceptions to take into consideration before you file that claim.
First and foremost, you cannot be at fault for the loss of power. If you’re working on your home and cause an accident that knocks out the power, insurance won’t cover the spoiled food. A loss like this is only covered if the event is out of your control, like if a storm knocks a tree down and takes out your power. Secondly, even if the incident isn’t your fault, it’s not wise to file a claim that’s just over the deductible. For example, say you have $750 in spoiled food but you have a $500 deductible. Filing a claim could raise your rates, and one time benefit of $250 is simply not worth the trouble. This all said, homeowners insurance covers spoiled food, which can make a big difference in larger claims where other things in your home are damaged as well. Don’t forget to document the spoiled food!
When you think about what homeowners insurance covers, you probably don’t think about your dog. Before you ask, no this is not the same as pet insurance. It has to do with the potential of your dog biting someone else. Dog bites, especially those that cause substantial harm to the victim, are far more common that you think. In fact, dog bites rank near the top for the most common homeowners claim filed. If you think these are generally small events that don’t require much coverage, you’d be wrong. It’s likely you’ll be sued over a dog bite, especially if your dog inflicts significant damage, and if you lose the case, you could be looking at a settlement of $1 million or more.
Luckily homeowners policies generally cover dog bites, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Dog bite protection is usually capped between $100,000 and $300,00. If you have a high risk breed for bites, you might consider getting more or opting for umbrella insurance. You should also check with your agent as certain breeds may not be covered under your policy, especially if they are illegal in the area you live. One other detail to remember is filing a dog bite claim will probably raise your rates, and the dog may be excluded from any further coverage.
Our advice would be to make sure your dog cannot get out of your yard, and invest in obedience training. Obey leash laws wherever posted, and if your dog exhibits aggressive behavior, you’re best walking it in places where it won’t encounter many people. If you need the coverage, it’s in most homeowners policies, but its best if you never have to use it.
Items In The Garden And Shed
Homeowners coverage extends to the areas outside your house but still within your property line. This includes anything in your backyard, garden, or garage. Homeowners insurance covers any structure on your property as well as the items stored in those buildings like your shed. Fire and theft are the most common claims for the area outside your house. Surprisingly, most policies cover plants and trees in your garden as well. Do you have a rare plant and your neighbor cut down a nearby tree and squashed it? It is covered. Again, it’s good to exercise restraint on filing claims that aren’t much more than your deductible. In addition, be sure to check with your agent on what the policy covers.
Bikes, Kayaks And More
Larger possessions stored on your property that often end up outside it are covered by most policies as well. Homeowners insurance covers that bike you take to work or the park, and if it is stolen while you’re out or at home, it’s covered regardless. Do you live next to a lake or take the kayak out on the local river? It is covered too. Remember, motorized items like motorcycles will need their own insurance policies. If there’s any question whether it will be covered, contact your agent. Don’t forget to document these larger items as well!
Final Thoughts – What Homeowners Insurance Covers
Often insurance customers make the mistake of assuming something is covered when it is not, or as we’ve just examined, forgetting to file claims for things that are covered. The best advice we can give is to check with your insurance agent to verify whether something is covered or not. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of filing a claim on these items, especially if it isn’t much more than your deductible. Ask about any expensive items you’re worried won’t be covered, and often your agent can craft a policy to include them. Still have questions on what homeowners insurance covers? Contact us today at Square State Insurance and we’ll answer all your questions.