Choosing a home owner’s insurance carrier and policy is an important part of the home purchasing process. However, in the whirlwind of information coming at you during the transaction, it’s possible to miss some of the details in the policy and to believe that you are covered for damage when, in fact, you are not. Following are some areas that are generally not covered on a standard policy. If any of these areas concern you, talk with your insurance company. You may be able to add endorsements—at an extra cost—to get more protection.
- Ground Movement: Earthquakes, landslides and sinkholes are not covered under standard home insurance. Talk to your insurance agent for information regarding acquiring a separate policy.
- Floods: Internal flooding, such as from burst pipes, are generally covered. Natural disaster floods, such as those from overflowing rivers or torrential rain, are not covered by standard home insurance policies, but can potentially be covered by a separate policy. Again, talk to your insurance agent for more information.
- Sewer Back-up: As discussed in my previous post “What Homeowners and Potential Buyers Should Know about Seattle Side Sewers”, damaged sewer lines are becoming an increasing problem in our area. As sewer back-up is typically not covered in a standard policy, it is well worth looking into adding additional coverage in this area.
- Mold: Insurers generally will not cover mold associated with long-term leaks, poor home maintenance or naturally occurring floods. It may, however, cover repairs if the mold issue can be traced to a sudden leak in your plumbing.
- Insect Infestations: Ridding your home of infestations from termites, mice and other vermin and fixing the resulting damage is considered part of home maintenance and is excluded from home insurance.
- Higher End Personal Property: When you purchase a homeowners policy, you will need to decide whether you want to cover your belongings for the actual cash value (meaning depreciation applies), or the optional replacement cost coverage (which will be more expensive, but will provide you with a new replacement). Both, however, are subject to policy limits and most higher end items including fine art, jewelry, silverware, coins and other precious metals should be protected through separate insurance riders that specify both the item and its worth.