What Does a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy Cover?
If you are a homeowner, then you may wonder exactly what your homeowner’s insurance policy actually covers. Generally speaking, the majority of homeowner’s policies includes four types of coverage—all of them essential. These are:
- Insurance coverage for the actual home structure;
- Insurance coverage for personal belongings;
- Liability protection, and
- Living expenses should you be unable to reside in your home due to an insured disaster.
Do I have a claim if unsafe conditions on someone else’s property caused my injury?
Home Structure Coverage
As far as the structure of your home is concerned, your homeowner’s insurance policy is in place to pay for repairs or re-building should your home be damaged or destroyed by any disaster listed in your policy. These disasters may include:
- Foundation damage caused by specific incidents;
- Civil commotion;
- Vehicles crashing into the house;
- Malicious mischief;
- Falling objects;
- The weight of ice, snow or sleet;
- Flooding from household items, plumbing, HVAC or fire protection;
- Damage to electrical parts caused by power surges;
- Glass breakage, and
- Volcanic eruption.
Notice the “may” word in that sentence. Many of these disasters must be added to a basic policy, increasing the price of the policy. Some policies exclude vandalism, others exclude flooding, and so on. Particularly in areas prone to flooding or hurricanes, those very coverages may be excluded altogether, or may require an extra premium to add them to the policy. This is why it is so important to know exactly what is covered by your own Mississippi homeowner’s insurance policy. Your home may be insured for replacement cost, extended replacement cost (affords protection against such things as a sudden increase in construction costs), or actual cash value. You should always insure your home for the actual amount it would cost to totally rebuild your home if it were destroyed. (This number is likely to be significantly different from the market value of your home).
Outbuildings, landscaping and fencing may be covered under your home structure coverage. This could include barns, separate garages, even a chicken house. Under most homeowner’s policies, outbuildings, landscaping and fencing are covered for up to 10 percent of your total policy amount (5 percent for plants). As an example, if your home is covered for $200,000, and a windstorm destroys your fence, your policy could cover replacing the fence up to $20,000.
Personal Belongings Coverage
Like your home, your personal belongings may be insured for the actual cash value (replacement value minus depreciation) or replacement cost (the actual amount required to replace damaged personal property with items which are the same quality with no deduction for depreciation). Any time you make a major purchase, it is important you notify your insurance company.
Keep in mind that some items in your home—electronics, firearms, furs, jewelry, silverware—may not be covered unless they are specially added. It is always a good idea to have a complete inventory of everything in your home as well as other buildings on your property. This information should, ideally, include purchase prices, current value, date of purchase, serial numbers and make and model numbers.
Liability Protection Coverage
Liability coverage protects you against a lawsuit for bodily injury which occurred on your property, or for property damage you or family members caused other people. The liability portion of your insurance policy will pay for the costs associated with defending you in court as well as settlement awards. Most liability limits start at about $100,000, however you may need to think about upping those limits.
You can also purchase an umbrella policy—or excess liability policy—which provides much broader coverage. Some liability policies also include no-fault medical coverage. This means if a friend or neighbor is injured while on your property, his or her medical bills could be simply be submitted to your insurance company. Dog bites are generally covered under the liability portion of your homeowner’s insurance unless you have what is considered a vicious dog on the premises who has a history or previous bites.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage
If your home is damaged to the point it is uninhabitable, your insurance policy may cover the costs associated with living away from home such as hotel bills, meals eat at restaurants and certain other costs you might incur while your home is being rebuilt. Additional living expenses coverage is completely separate from the coverage amount for rebuilding your home. This means that even if you used up all your coverage for additional living expenses, that would have no effect on the coverage available to rebuild your home.
If you have questions regarding what is covered under your homeowner’s policy, it would be a good idea to speak to a representative at your insurance company. If you are being sued for an accident which occurred on your property—or you were injured on another’s property and need help getting reimbursed for your medical expenses—it is a good idea to speak to an experienced Mississippi attorney from The Stroud Law Firm. We have extensive experience in all aspects of premises liability and personal injury and can make sure your rights—and your future—are protected. Call The Stroud Law Firm today at (662) 536-5656.