Your home is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make. You must protect this investment by getting the right insurance for your area.
This can be more complicated than you might expect. Even if you have a standard dwelling and property policy, you may not have coverage against common disasters in your area. Many insurance policies specifically exclude these disasters from their normal coverage, potentially leaving you unprotected from the very problems that are most likely to impact you.
Keep reading to learn what’s probably covered by your standard policy and the five most important types of insurance you may need to purchase separately.
What’s Covered Under Standard Insurance Policies
The two most common types of homeowner’s insurance are special form (HO-3) and comprehensive form (HO-5) policies. Both provide what is known as “all-risks” coverage. Unless they specifically exclude a cause of loss, they will cover your home for any type of damage.
However, these policies often contain long lists of “excluded perils,” or reasons for damage. Commonly excluded perils include:
- Sewer backups
- Power failures
- Mechanical breakdowns
- Mold or rot
- Neglect, wear and tear, or intentional damage
- Vandalism of vacant homes
- Government or law enforcement action
- War or nuclear attacks
If your home is damaged by any of these excluded clauses, your home insurance policy will not cover the repairs. You should always read your specific policy carefully to understand what type of coverage you have and what kinds of damage are covered.
Most Important Types of Additional Home Insurance
The best way to make sure your home is fully covered is by getting additional coverage that specifically covers certain disasters. Here are the five more critical kinds of coverage to make sure your home is protected against every worst-case scenario.
1. Flood Protection
Flooding is excluded by almost every policy because it can occur anywhere. If a structure has plumbing, it could suffer a flood and associated water damage. It can also cause various other problems, including mold, structural damage, and issues with the foundation.
As such, flood protection is a critical addition to most policies. Depending on where you live, you may be able to add flood coverage as an extension of your standard policy, or you may need to get an entirely separate plan just for flooding.
Flood insurance is essential if you live somewhere like Florida, where hurricanes and storm surges are a regular risk. Without it, you may struggle to get your insurer to approve claims for any storm or water damage at all.
2. Sewer Backup Protection
If a structure is connected to a sewer or septic system, it’s at risk of a backup. Agencies often group groundwater seepage with this type of claim as well. Any building can face these problems, and they can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fully repair, so insurance agencies simply don’t include them in their standard policies.
The last thing you want to do when your basement or bathroom is filled with sewage is to discover that you have to pay for all the repairs yourself. Adding sewer and groundwater seepage insurance to your policies can help you pay for professional help to get your house repaired and the health hazard removed.
3. Earthquake Protection
Earthquakes are another serious natural disaster that’s rarely covered by standard policies. Even minor earthquakes can cause fundamental structural damage to buildings that weren’t designed with them in mind. They can leave your home uninhabitable by compromising the foundation or support structures, requiring top-to-bottom reconstruction.
Since that’s an expensive process, most insurers don’t cover earthquakes. This is a problem, especially in areas like Texas, where fracking and other engineering practices have made them more common. If you live where earthquakes occur occasionally, it’s a good idea to get specific coverage just for them.
4. Holiday Home Protection
Not every home requires the same kind of coverage as the place you live year-round. If you own a holiday home, you should consider getting a specific vacation house insurance policy to cover problems unique to buildings that are often vacant.
For instance, most vacation properties are empty for weeks or months. This puts these homes at greater risk of burglaries and vandalism. If something goes wrong, like a pipe springing a leak or a window breaking, it will also take longer for the problem to be discovered. Vacation property insurance provides coverage for these specific situations. It also makes it more likely that your claim will be fully covered since the insurer will completely understand the property’s use and condition.
5. Unit-Owner/Condo Protection
Another unique situation occurs if you live in a condo. Condominium associations often have site-wide insurance policies that are paid by part of your monthly HOA fees. However, these policies can vary widely in what types and how much damage they cover. Furthermore, they specifically don’t protect your personal property or any upgrades made to the property after the site was first built. If you install new fixtures or store expensive items at your condo, they aren’t included in the overall policy.
As such, getting a unit-owner policy (HO-6) is a good idea. These policies are flexible, so you can get coverage for parts of your condo that aren’t already covered by your condo association. They can also include other types of coverage, including flood, sewer, and earthquake insurance. You’ll have a better chance of getting your claims paid in full if you don’t just rely on the condo HOA.
Get Experienced Legal Help for Natural Disaster Home Insurance Claims
Even if you have full coverage, insurance companies are still motivated to pay as little as possible on your claim. If your insurance provider is attempting to underpay or deny a claim for damage you know should be covered, you should get legal help.
At the Pro Law Group, we have years of experience helping clients stand up to their insurance companies. Our expert attorneys will help you fight denied and underpaid claims and receive the funds you need to repair your house and replace your possessions. Reach out today to learn how we can help you.