As a responsible property owner, you have probably purchased homeowners insurance to protect your investment. In fact, it is probably required by your mortgage lender. While homeowners insurance can be an important lifeline in the event of a disaster, there are certain situations where you may be left paying out of pocket.
Even though mold is both unsightly and a health hazard, most homeowners policies limit or exclude coverage for mold-related damage. Your best defense is to address issues that can lead to the development of mold as quickly as possible. If the mold affects more than a small area of approximately 10 square feet, it is best to contact a professional mold remediation company.
Cracked or aging sewer lines, torrential rains, or blockages caused by tree roots or debris can allow storm water or even raw sewage to enter your home. This can cause thousands of dollars in damage to everything from your walls and flooring to your furniture and electrical system. If you live in an area that is prone to sewer backups, you may be able to purchase a policy endorsement to cover this type of damage, but you should expect to pay extra.
A sinkhole occurs when groundwater dissolves the bedrock under the earth’s surface. As cracks and pores develop in the bedrock, the earth starts to settle to fill in the voids. Eventually, the ground gives way to create a sinkhole. This phenomenon is most common in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
The majority of states exclude damages caused by earth movement, including sinkholes and earthquakes. Florida is an exception and mandates coverage for sinkhole damage as part of all standard homeowners policies. Homeowners in Tennessee have the option of purchasing sinkhole coverage at an additional cost.
A termite infestation can leave you shelling out thousands of dollars to repair the damage. Since most homeowners policies do not cover termite or other pest infestations, prevention is your best course of action. You can start by preventing moisture from accumulating around your foundation and in your crawlspace and removing wood, plant, and paper debris from around your home. This forces the termites to look elsewhere for their food and water. You should also consider investing in termite protection services with a pest control company.
If you live near a nuclear power plant, you may be surprised to find out that your homeowners policy will not cover you in the event of a nuclear accident. The federal government does provide some protection through the Price-Anderson Act of 1957. The act covers the following in the event of a nuclear accident:
- property damage and loss,
- bodily injury, and
- disease resulting in death.
If you are evacuated from your home because of a nuclear incident, you can also be reimbursed for certain reasonable living expenses beyond what you would normally pay.
If a terrorist act causes smoke or fire damage to your home, there is a good chance that you will be covered. On the other hand, incidents involving chemical, biological, nuclear, or radioactive weapons are considered acts of war and are not covered.
Despite the fact that dog bites are one of the most common causes of lawsuits against homeowners, insurance companies may exclude coverage for dog bites if you own a breed of dog that is considered to be dangerous or aggressive. Some companies are slightly more lenient and look at the history of the specific dog instead of the breed.
If you live in a flood-prone area, your homeowners policy will not cover damages caused by torrential rains or overflowing rivers. Your best option is to purchase a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.
The time to find out the extent of your homeowners coverage is before you suffer a loss. If you are unsure about what is covered under your homeowners policy, you should contact your insurance carrier as soon as possible to verify your coverage.