Mold. A crack in the foundation. Deteriorating roof shingles.
Are you dealing with any of these issues at home? If so, you already know that repairs can quickly add up (foundation repairs alone can set you back $40,000). But there’s no reason to fret, right? You have homeowners insurance!
Don’t call a contractor just yet. Unfortunately, homeowners often live under the false assumption that any type of home repair is covered by their insurance policy.
All homeowners insurance policies have exclusions. Knowing what is and what is not covered under most homeowners insurance policies can save you from financial heartbreak and leave you better prepared to handle surprise home repairs.
Before you schedule any repair work on your home, learn how insurance claims work, why they’re sometimes denied, and what you can do to secure the best insurance coverage for your Brooklyn home.
What is an Insurance Claim?
When a home is damaged, a homeowner can submit a formal request called an insurance claim to their coverage provider. If the insurance company validates the claim, payment is issued to the homeowner. If the claim is denied, the homeowner is left solely responsible for repairs.
Homeowners’ insurance covers more than just a home’s physical structure. It also provides coverage for the homeowner’s possessions and offers protection against liability.
This is why homeowners insurance is an absolute necessity. While all policies differ, most offer protection against:
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Structural collapse due to weight of snow or ice
- Water damage from plumbing, heating, or A.C. overflow
If you’re a homeowner, you can likely think of multiple scenarios that would fit into this list of covered perils. However, you can also likely think of multiple scenarios that would NOT fit into this list, which is why it’s so important to understand what is not covered under most homeowners insurance policies.
What Is Not Covered Under Most Homeowners Insurance?
First, let’s start with some of the more unlikely incidents that homeowners insurance policies don’t cover. These include damage caused by:
- Nuclear hazards
- Pest infestations
If these threats keep you up at night, there are policies you can purchase to protect your home from the damage of (bug) bombs. But most homeowners go without having to make claims regarding sinkholes or backyard battles.
Then there are incidents that although less than probable, are possible. These include:
Now before you panic (after all, researchers believe New York is overdue for an earthquake), keep in mind that a homeowners policy can still be beneficial during one of these scenarios.
For example, if an earthquake causes a fire that damages your home (and fire is listed as a covered peril in your insurance policy), your claim will likely be approved. There are also additional riders you can purchase to cover your home and possessions in all of these situations.
Homeowners should also know there are types of property that homeowners insurance policies don’t cover. Talk to your broker if you have any of the following:
- Diving boards
- Certain dog breeds deemed to be dangerous
Finally, the following items only have minimal coverage under a typical homeowners insurance policy. You may want to consider purchasing additional coverage for:
You may also want to increase your policy’s liability limits as medical expenses and legal fees can quickly grow past a policy’s included coverage.
Keep in mind that every homeowner’s insurance policy is different. It’s best to avoid making assumptions about what a policy may (or may not) cover.
How to Protect Your Home
The best way to prevent having a claim denied is to avoid having to make a claim in the first place. While we can’t control everything in life (looking at you, Mother Nature), here are a few steps homeowners can take towards protecting their property.
Fire is almost always covered by homeowners insurance but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to prevent one from occurring. Protect your home from fire by installing smoke detectors on every floor and outside of each bedroom. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends testing smoke detectors monthly and replacing batteries annually. Never leave a lit stovetop or space heater unattended and make sure to turn off the oven when not in use. Nearly 3,000 home fires are caused by dryers every year. Make sure to clean your dryer’s lint trap and air filter. Finally, perform routine maintenance on your heating system every year and regularly clean and check your chimney for build-up or debris.
Keep things dry
For sudden water damage, like a busted pipe, you’re most likely covered under your homeowners’ insurance policy. But slower hidden leaks that lead to serious damage over time are typically not covered. While you can purchase Hidden Water Coverage for added peace of mind, you can also take steps to prevent water damage in the first place. These include keeping gutters clean, checking seals around showers and tubs regularly, adding insulation in unprotected areas of your home to prevent damage to pipes from freezing temperatures, and installing a smart water sensor to help you discover leaks before they become serious issues.
Home maintenance starts before you buy. If you’re browsing Brooklyn for a family home (read our blog on the best Brooklyn neighborhoods to help you with your search), make sure to learn more about a property before making an offer. Is it in a flood zone? How close is the nearest fire department? Is it in a high-crime area? A reputable real estate broker will help you find a home that not only meets your wants and budget but also keeps you, your family, and your investment as safe as possible.
One Last Tip
Finally, make sure you’ve read your homeowners’ insurance policy in full. If you have questions, reach out to your broker directly for answers. Assuming anything about your coverage can leave you with sky-high repair bills. Taking the time to review your policy and add additional riders before disaster strikes can make all the difference.
If you’re looking for an insurance company that understands the unique risks Brooklyn homeowners face, please reach out to us at Lincoln Brokerage. Our brokers love and live all things Brooklyn and would be happy to provide you with a custom quote on homeowners insurance.