8 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowner's Insurance

by Tim Lemke on 17 October 2013 6 comments

Insurance companies often get grief for what's not covered in a typical policy. But a standard homeowner's policy — often known as an HO-3 — does have clauses that cover you in ways you may not expect. And even if you aren't covered under a standard policy, you may learn that there are endorsements tied to your policy that offer extra coverage you didn't realize you had. (See also: Don't Let Your Bank Pick Your Homeowners Insurance)

It's important to review your homeowner's insurance policy carefully to see what applies to you. but you may be surprised to know that these seven things are covered under many standard policies or as part of low-cost endorsements that are often routinely included.

1. Spoiled Food

A typical policy will cover the loss of up to $500 in food if your freezer or refrigerator stops working due to a power outage.

2. Tombstones

If a grave marker of a loved one is damaged, the insurance company will pay for repairs, usually up to $5,000. It's important to note that grave markers must be established as your "personal property" for them to be covered. (In essence, you're covered if you are the one who bought the plot.) So that's something to keep in mind when burying a loved one.

3. Dog Bites

If your dog bites someone and causes injury, most policies will cover that person's medical expenses, even if the bite didn't happen on your property. Most policies also cover medical expenses for other injuries in which an insured person is at fault, and will pay for legal expenses if you are sued. (Check your policy to be sure of limits to this liability coverage.)

4. Kids and Their Stuff at College

Under most policies, the "insured" includes anyone in your household as well as anyone under 24 who is attending college full time. However, policies aren't crystal clear on whether this applies only to students living in dorm, so it may also be wise to get low-cost renters insurance if they are living off campus. (See also: Why You Should Get Renters Insurance)

5. Volcanic Eruptions

This may not be relevant to you unless you live in Hawaii, but it's nice to know that if lava is flowing toward your house, you're covered. Keep in mind, however, that most standard policies will not cover loss due to earthquakes or tremors. (See also: How to Financially Prepare for a Natural Disaster)

6. Identity Theft

It can be distressing to learn that someone has stolen your personal information, and cases of identify theft can cost victims thousands of dollars, not to mention the time and stress of dealing with law enforcement, attorneys, and financial institutions to get your case resolved. Thankfully, many homeowner's policies will reimburse you for expenses you incur when working to resolve an identity theft case. This could include attorney's fees, travel costs, and even lost wages if you have to miss work. Some policies will even cover things like babysitting and elder care if you need them while you resolve the identity theft case. (See also: How to Deal With Identity Theft)

Note: In many cases, identity theft coverage is not part of the standard HO-3, but a special endorsement. But such endorsements are often routinely included without homeowners even knowing it. Check your policy.

7. Some Flood Damage

Typically, if your house floods, you're out of luck, unless you purchase flood insurance. However, many policies do have endorsements that cover flood damage in some instances. I recently saved thousands of dollars in repairs when I learned that my policy actually did cover repairs resulting from a failed sump pump. Check your policy to see if it includes such a provision.

8. Your Bike, Even 3,000 Miles From Home

Most policies include "off premises" coverage for your personal property. (It's the same clause that covers your child's property when she's away at college.) One Wise Bread IT staffer discovered the value of this when his very pricey touring bicycle was stolen midway through his cross-country bike tour — all the way on the other side of the continent. He called his agent, and soon he had the funds to replace the bike and continue pedaling.

In addition to protecting your property from theft or loss, off premises coverage offers liability protection, too. That means if you shank a drive through the picture window of the house edging the fairway, your insurer picks up the tab. Amounts vary based on your total coverage amounts, so check your policy for the details. 

Anything surprising in your homeowner's insurance?

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Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing all this info, Tim! I had no idea homeowner's insurance covered all of this!

Guest's picture

Nice list. I was not aware of lots of them. I'll have to check our policy to see what is really covered. The only time we ever used our policy was when our side yard fence blew down in a windstorm.

Guest's picture

Regardless of how frequently you audit your homeowners' insurance policy, it is critical to review it again when the time it now, time for your kids to set off for college. You are prone to uncover that the relatively modest cost of keeping your youngster on your mortgage homeowners' insurance policy or paying for leaseholders' protection is worth the true serenity in knowing they are ensured.

Guest's picture

As I have gotten older, I have began to realize and understand exactly how having insurance in general help you out tremendously. The overall problem that most individuals deal with when it comes to any type of insurance is the fact that they don't know what they are entitled to or simple don't know the rules to the game. Wealthy people have figured these things out and use it towards their advantage on a daily basis especially when it comes to taxes. Everyone needs to wake up and invest in financial education.

Guest's picture
Brian

Great list. While I knew some of the things listed were covered, there were a few surprises. Time to get the policy out and give it another review.

Guest's picture

Fungi or mold damage may be covered in some cases. Often mold damage is entirely excluded, with no coverage available through endorsement. However some insurers do offer partial or limited coverage for mold related loss.

In some cases, coverage for damage may apply if the mold arises out of a covered loss (e.g. a broken pipe). In other cases, some mold coverage may be available if you pay extra.

With some policies there may be a dollar limit on mold related claim payout where coverage exists or there may be monies to pay for clean-up - but not for testing or remediation work. Homeowners need to check terms very carefully in regard to mold damage/loss coverage including the handling of potential liability claims arising from.