Homeowners’ insurance is an integral part of home ownership. But if you don’t read your policy carefully, you may end up facing a bill for something you thought was covered.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), homeowners’ insurance rarely pays for damage caused by floods, earthquakes, damage caused by lack of maintenance, and sewer backups.
However, you can add extra coverage — often for a nominal charge — that will protect you in the event of a disaster. Read on for a summary of information from the III web page discussing four disasters that are not commonly included in standard homeowners’ insurance coverage.
- “Flood coverage … is available in the form of a separate policy both from the National Flood Insurance Program – NFIP ( 888-379-9531) and from a few private insurers … Don’t wait until the evening news announces a flood season warning to buy a policy. There is a 30-day waiting period before federal flood coverage takes effect.
- Earthquake coverage can be a separate policy or an endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. It available from most insurance companies.
- Maintenance damage … It is your responsibility to take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold, termite infestation and infestation from other pests.
- Sewer backups or the inability of sump pumps to handle runoff water from major downpours are not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance. Those types of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and typically cost about $40 per year. This type of coverage will help pay for property damage that results from sewage backing up into your home — damaged rugs, furniture, etc. — regardless of the location or reason for the blocked sewer line. Please note, however, that homeowners bear the responsibility for maintaining the sewer line that runs from the house to the street, and these repairs to fix leaks or eliminate blockages are not typically covered by insurance.
Check your policy today and make sure you are covered. The few minutes it takes — and the extra dollars a year it costs — could save you much more money in the long run.