9 Surprising Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover

If you've never read the entirety of your homeowners insurance policy, you might believe you're protected against any kind of problem with your home or property. But the truth is, many things are specifically excluded from most policies. Most of us know flooding and water damage is not generally covered by standard policies. The rest, though, may surprise you.

Does your homeowner's policy cover any of these 10 items? If not, consider getting special endorsements or riders to make sure you have the proper level of coverage.

1. Pools

You might think the liability insurance tied to your policy will suffice, but it's probably not high enough to protect you against many pool-related injuries. A typical homeowners policy covers about $100,000 in liability insurance — but if you have a pool, you'll probably need greater protection. The Insurance Information Institute recommends bumping your liability insurance to $300,000 or even $500,000.

2. Termites

Pests can pose a big threat to your home, but don't assume damage from the little critters is covered. That's because most insurance companies consider damage from termites and other pests to be preventable. Pay attention to moisture around your home, and closely examine any wood for possible pest damage. Also be sure to keep plants and wood piles a good distance from your house.

3. Tree Houses

Many insurance companies place treehouses in the "high-risk" category along with trampolines. Check your policy for exclusions before constructing that clubhouse in the old oak tree.

4. Earthquakes

What's interesting here is that damage from a volcanic eruption usually is covered by most homeowners policies. Earthquakes are a different story, and that also goes for earth tremors, landslides, and mudslides. If you live in an earthquake-prone area — Californians, I am talking to you — consider buying extra earthquake insurance.

5. Trees Damaged by Wind

If a tree gets knocked down during a storm and damages your house, the repairs to your home are covered. But insurance won't cover the actual removal or replacement of the tree itself. This goes for any other shrubs and plants. In general, homeowners insurance only covers damage to plants and trees caused by fire, theft, lightning, and car crashes. So if a car crashes into a tree, you're covered (up to $500.) But if the wind knocks the tree over, tough luck.

6. Expensive Jewelry or Other Personal Property

You may think your wedding ring is covered under your homeowners policy, but unless your hubby bought you a cubic zirconia, it's probably not. Most policies cover personal artifacts up to $1,000 or so. After that, you'll need a separate rider. But don't worry, such riders usually cost less than $100 a year.

7. Your Home Business

It's logical to assume that if you're running a business from your house, that business is covered under your homeowners policy. But that's not necessarily true. If you run a catering business from inside the home and someone gets food poisoning, you're not covered. If you are giving an art lesson and a student breaks a toe, you're not covered. This is especially true if your home business is located on your property, but in a separate structure from your home.

8. War

What's worse than having your house blown up by the enemy? Knowing that insurance won't cover the repairs. Most policies will not pay you back for damage caused by war, terrorism, or nuclear dangers. However, civil unrest, riots, and vandalism may be covered.

9. Many Popular Dog Breeds

Most dogs are covered under your homeowners policy, but only if they are not considered "aggressive" or "risky." And you'd be surprised how many breeds of dogs are basically uninsurable. The American Veterinary Medical Association lists the dogs most likely to bite humans, and appearing on that list is often a black mark for insurance companies. Blacklisted breeds include Pit Bull Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, Akitas, Rottweilers, and even Chow Chows.

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Guest's picture

#9 I found the USAA home owners policies do not have any dog breed restrictions.

Guest's picture

The tree issue is almost correct. There is coverage to remove the tree from the structure so that repairs can be effected. There is limited coverage for the cut up and haul away of said tree. The tree and other plants are not covered only of the wind damages them and they do no damage to a covered structure. So if the tree falls in the yard without landing on and damaging a fence, driveway, etc., then yes, you're out of luck.

Tim Lemke's picture

Laura - you're correct. Insurance will cover work to remove a tree to enable the repair of your home or other property. But as for reimbursement for the value of the tree itself, usually not.