Homeowner Insurance FAQs

What property and perils are excluded from most homeowner policies?

Most homeowner policies provide coverage that does not apply to animals, birds, fish, automobiles and business property; for loss or damage caused by flood, surface water, water which backs up through sewers or drains, earth movement, nuclear damage, war, etc. Section II coverages (personal liability and medical payments) do not apply to the operation, ownership, use, etc., of any aircraft, automobile, recreational motor vehicle, water craft powered by more than 50 horsepower motor; bodily injury or physical damage caused by an intentional act of the insured. It must be noted that these are a mere sample of property and perils not covered. A complete review of your policy is the only way to determine what property is covered and what perils are insured against. Also, there are specific limits of coverage on property insured under the homeowner’s policy such as money, securities, water craft, theft of jewelry, silverware, and/or guns.

Why does my policy show a limit for 'Other Structures' when I do not have any other structures?

The homeowner policy is a package policy designed over 50 years ago and those that designed it felt everyone should get for free:  10% Other Structures; 30% Contents; 20% Loss of Use; $100,000 Bodily Injury to Others and $1,000 Medical Payments to Others.  There is no premium charge for these coverages- only for MORE coverage- and there is no way to remove the coverage.

Our sump pump failed and the insurance company is denying our claim because the water backed up through our sewers. Can they do this?

Most insurance policies exclude water damage from water that backs up through sewers or drains. You may wish to contact your agent and inquire about putting an endorsement on your policy, which would cover sewer back up.

During a storm, a tree from my neighbor’s yard fell and destroyed my fence. Does my homeowner’s policy pay for the damage or does my neighbor’s policy?

Generally, your own policy should cover the loss. Your insurance company may be able to recover the amount it pays you for the loss and your deductible from the homeowners insurance that your neighbor may have if the loss occurred as a result of your neighbor’s negligence.

Doesn't my condo association carry enough insurance to take care of me?

When you live in a condo or co-op apartment, you enjoy many of the advantages of home ownership, but you don’t actually own the building that you live in. As a result, home insurance for condo and co-op owners is different from homeowners insurance. A specialized form of homeowners insurance, called HO-6, addresses the needs of condo owners. There is a master policy held by the Condo Association or Co-op Board that generally covers the building and its common areas in case of covered losses. However, as a condo owner, you need insurance to protect your personal property from fire, lightning, explosion, storms, vandalism and theft and more. These are just a few of the named perils (specific risks) typically covered by an HO-6 policy. These coverages protect your personal belongings in the event of loss. As a condo owner, you also need to insure improvements you may have made to the structure of your unit, like private entry ways, garages, additions, balconies, and specialized fixtures. If these were not part of the original structure of your unit, then these improvements should be covered by your condo insurance policy to properly protect your investment. Note that master policies differ from condo association to condo association. Be sure to know exactly what is covered by the master policy, and make sure that your HO-6 coverage takes care of the rest.