What Is Homeowners Insurance?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 17th, 2022

If an event covered by your policy destroys or damages your house or your possessions, your homeowner’s insurance pays compensation. In some circumstances, it will also cover you if you harm another person or damage property. There are four primary purposes for homeowner insurance:

  • Fix the structures in your yard, house, and other areas.
  • Replace or repair your personal belongings.
  • Pay for your relocation while your house is being repaired.
  • Get your liability covered if you are legally liable for someone else’s harm or injury.

If you put less than 20% down on your house loan, you could be forced to pay mortgage insurance, which is different from homeowners insurance.

Close-up Of A Human Hand Stopping The Wooden Blocks From Falling On House Model

Regardless of your down payment, mortgage insurance may be necessary for FHA and other government loans. Mortgage insurance can help in reimbursing your lender in case you default.

In finance, homeowners insurance protects you, whereas mortgage insurance protects your lender.

What is covered by homeowner’s insurance?

According to Legal Grit, a typical homeowners insurance policy will pay for replacing or repairing your house and its contents in the case of damage. That often covers damage brought on by fire, smoke, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters like lightning, wind, or hail. Other concealed damage could result from outside factors, such as a fallen tree.

Four major types of coverage are often included in standard policies: coverage for your home’s structure, covering for your valuables, liability insurance, and coverage for additional living expenses.

Coverage for the structure of your home

If your home is damaged or destroyed by lightning, fire, hail, hurricane, or other covered disasters, your homeowners’ insurance will pay to repair or rebuild it. For about 10% of the insurance on the house’s structure, most plans also cover unattached buildings like a tool shed, garage, or gazebo.

A standard policy does not cover routine wear and tear, earthquakes, and floods.

Remember this guideline while buying coverage for your home’s structure: Buy enough insurance to rebuild your house.

Liability protection

Liability protects you from legal action for the damage you or your family members do to another person’s person or property. Additionally, it covers any harm your pets may cause.

Therefore, you are protected if your child or dog inadvertently damages a neighbor’s expensive rug. (However, if they ruin your rug, you’re out of luck.)

The liability portion of your insurance covers the cost of representing you in court and any monetary judgments up to the limit specified in your policy documents.

Although liability limits typically start at around $100,000, it’s a good idea to talk with your insurance professional about whether you should buy a higher level of protection.

Consider buying an umbrella or excess liability insurance, which offers a broader coverage and higher liability limits, if you have sizable assets and need more protection than your home policy offers.

Additionally, your policy offers no-fault medical coverage, so if a neighbor or friend is hurt while visiting your house, they can submit their medical expenses to your insurance company. By doing this, expenses can be covered without the risk of a liability claim being made against you.

Coverage for your personal effects

You are still protected if your clothes, furniture, sports equipment, or other personal belongings are stolen or damaged in a fire, storm, or other insured events. Typically, the coverage is between 50 and 70 percent of your insurance on the house’s structure.

Conducting a home inventory is the best approach to assess whether this level of coverage is enough.

Items stored off-site are covered under personal belongings insurance, so you are protected wherever you are. Some companies cap the amount at 10% of the amount of assets insurance you have. Additionally, you get coverage for illegal use of your credit cards for up to $500.

Jewelry, art, furs, silverware, collectibles, and other expense items are covered, although there are often dollar limits if stolen. Buy a special personal property addendum or floater and insure the item for its official appraised value to fully insure these items.

Standard home insurance covers plants, trees, and shrubs for $500 per item. There is no insurance for diseased or improperly maintained trees and plants.

Additional living expenses (ALE) 

Additional living expenses (ALE) are expenditures associated with living away from home if an insured disaster has damaged your house and you cannot live there. While your house is being repaired, it pays for dining out, hotel expenses, and other expenses not normally associated with living.

Remember that your homeowners’ policy’s ALE coverage has limitations, and some plans have time constraints. However, these restrictions differ from the sum used to construct or restore your property. Your insurance provider will still cover the full cost of reconstructing your house up to the policy maximum even if you exhaust your ALE.

If you rent out a portion of your property, ALE will additionally pay you the rent you would have gotten from your tenant had your home not been damaged.

What homeowners insurance does not cover

Even the most comprehensive homeowner’s insurance coverage won’t cover every potential problem with your house. For instance, you cannot purposefully cause damage to your home and then expect your insurance company to cover the costs. Other types of damage are often not covered by insurance, including 

  • Other types of damage are often not covered by insurance, including 
  • Sinkholes, landslides, and earthquakes.
  • Infestations with pests like birds, mice, or mold.
  • Neglect or wear and tear.
  • Nuclear threat
  • Governmental action, including hostilities.
  • Power outage

For some of these risks, you can, however, get additional insurance. If you live in a hurricane-prone state, you may need flood, earthquake, and windstorm insurance.

You can expand your coverage with endorsements. If you are worried about damages or events your insurance does not cover, speak with your insurer.

You can add so-called endorsements to give more coverage, which typically comes at an extra cost.

Does house insurance provide coverage for water damage?

It depends on the water damage type. For instance, floods are typically not covered by house insurance policies. Additionally, damage caused by a clogged drain or sewer is typically not covered without a special endorsement.

However, your insurer will normally cover the damage if a pipe freezes and bursts.

Do fires get covered by homeowners insurance?

All typical homeowner’s insurance plans cover damage from fire and smoke. This type of coverage often covers the expenses of demolishing the home’s main structure and any outbuildings, cleaning up the mess, reconstructing them, and buying new furniture and other household items.

Most homeowner’s insurance plans also offer loss of use coverage to cover the cost of temporary housing while your house is being rebuilt.

Does tax deductions for homeowners insurance exist?

Your homeowners’ insurance premiums are not tax deductible if your house serves as your primary residence. However, you might be able to write off the premiums as a tax deduction if the home is a rental property.


Editorial Staff

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