Category Archives: Homeowner’s Insurance

7 Surprising Things Covered by Homeowners Insurance

 

Homeowners InsurancePerception: Even though you’re paying for homeowners insurance, you probably hope you won’t have to use it. Short of a break-in, exploding pipes, or a kitchen inferno, you probably will go years without needing to ring up your agent. Right?

Reality: not necessarily. And this is a good thing, trust us. Whether you’re planning a wedding or fighting off rabid dogs, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that homeowners insurance policies often cover a lot more than you might think. So make sure you aren’t missing out!

Spaceships
Although it’s a long shot that we’ll have aliens paying visits to our hometowns anytime soon, you might be delighted to hear that if E.T. is a lousy driver and crashes through your roof, you won’t have to worry about repair fees. Nor will you have to if (in a slightly less long-shot scenario) your house gets hit by a meteor, satellite, or falling plane part.

According to the verbiage in insurance policies, space debris is covered under a standard homeowners policy, says Rachael Risinger, a spokeswoman for the insurance company State Farm.

“Our losses insured section mentions both ‘falling objects’ and ‘aircraft,’ which includes self-propelled missiles [meteors] and spacecraft,” Risinger says.

So if you see a low-flying blimp headed straight for your roof deck, don’t panic. OK, maybe you should panic, but not too much.

Weddings
You’re planning to walk down the aisle in your backyard, but a torrential storm or tornado is slated to tear through on that very day. Now what?

All is not lost; the costs related to relocating the affair may be covered, says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications with the Insurance Information Institute.

But check your policy carefully: If you’re planning to have an open bar, that can put your coverage in jeopardy, so consider adding a “special event” policy. Also, check to make sure your liability limits are high enough, Worters notes.

“When throwing a wedding, a safe bet is to get a wedding insurance policy, along with a liquor liability policy if you are serving drinks,” Worters says. If you serve booze to someone who’s drunk (hmm, what are the odds?) and then that person gets in a car and hurts someone, you will be liable. A liquor policy can protect you in that situation (and you might want to appoint a key master, as well).

“Not only will this insurance cover them if someone gets injured at the home and sues, but it can cover the costs of a no-show photographer, severe weather that prevents the wedding from taking place, and any unexpected illnesses or injuries that affect the bride, groom, and important family members.”

Cold feet? That’s a whole separate policy.

Your college kid’s dorm room
Your teen calls at midnight freaking out because her laptop has been stolen from her dorm. If she lives at home while not at school, there’s a good chance her property is covered. But before you send your proud scholar off into the real world, check with your insurer for coverage limits and deductibles. If your teen plans to take pricey electronics, musical instruments, or sports equipment with him, consider a renters or personal articles policy for additional protection.

Dog bites
So Humbert the hovawart isn’t the neighborhood’s friendliest pooch? Well, if your dog bites someone, you’re probably covered by the liability portion of your homeowners insurance. That said, a lot will depend on your insurer, as some exclude coverage for breeds that are deemed potentially dangerous. Others determine risk based on a dog’s bite history, rather than the breed. So check with your insurance company before bringing home that new furry family member, especially if he has big teeth.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
If a deer damages your fence or some rascally raccoons destroy your kitchen, that doesn’t mean these critters should have the last laugh. For the most part, a standard homeowners policy would provide coverage for exterior and interior damage done to a home by a wild animal, Risinger says. This would include things like torn siding, shattered windows or doors, fences or damaged furniture, should the critters get inside. Just keep in mind the common exceptions like boats, swimming pools, or hot tubs, which may require a separate policy.

Libel and defamation suits
Is someone badmouthing you big time? Then you may be able to join the ranks of Former President Bill Clinton and O.J. Simpson, both of whom fell back on liability coverage through their homeowners insurance to foot the bill for their legal fees in their libel suits (brought by Paula Jones and the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, respectively).

The liability portion of your homeowners policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit stated in your policy documents.

“Even if the claims may be false, the insurer can be obliged to pay for the attorneys’ fees and expenses necessary to defend the claims,” explains Worters. “The insurer may also have an obligation to contribute toward a reasonable settlement of the claims.”

The afterlife
Finally, isn’t it nice to know that your homeowners insurance policy also has your back after you or your beloved family members are 6 feet under? That’s right, gravestones, urns, mausoleums, and other funerary items are generally considered “valuables” under most homeowners insurance policies, and are covered for losses such as for weather damage and theft.

So if your late spouse’s gravestone cracks in an ice storm or suffers some irreparable Halloween night vandalism, check your policy, which may cover you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000. Even if you—the policyholder—pass on, your insurance may remain to help out your own surviving family members. Consider it a little going-away gift!

Article by Liz Alterman

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Homeowner’s Insurance Reform Act of 2013

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photo by: James Thompson

An Insurance Research Council Study done in the fall of 2012 showed that for the first time Colorado ranks among the top ten states with catastrophe-related claims. Floods, tornadoes, hail storms and wildfires have caused massive losses and claims for the last six years in Colorado. Many homeowners are unaware of what their homeowner’s insurance covers or opt not to get extra coverage to cover their homes from natural disasters.

With the recent floods in Colorado, many homeowners were unaware that their homeowner’s insurance did not cover floods and others decided to not include it on their policy since they thought it was not necessary. The average cost for adding flood coverage to a homeowner’s policy is about $650 a year. FEMA spokesperson Jerry DeFelice recently said in an interview that statewide, only about 22,000 homeowners have flood insurance and with 2.2 million housing units in Colorado, that means that about 1 percent of the state’s residences have flood coverage.

Due to the numerous catastrophe-related claims, there was a desire to create legislation that addressed the problems created by the losses experienced in the state of Colorado. On May 10th, 2013, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law the Homeowners Insurance Reform Act of 2013.

What Does the Homeowner’s Reform Act Regulate?
HB-1225 requires insurers to provide mandatory policy updates every two years and mandates that policies be written in plain language. It also gives homeowners more time to make claims and gives the opportunity for increased living expenses.

Changes that will go into effect on January 1st, 2014
Homeowner’s home insurance policy will see the following changes:
1) Every “Replacement Cost” policy offered for purchase or renewal must include an option for, at minimum:
a) Extended Replacement Cost Coverage of at least 10% of the Dwelling Policy Limit (additional dollars available in the event of the need to rebuild). Extended Replacement Cost Coverage pays a designated amount above the policy limit to replace a damaged structure if necessary under current building conditions.
b) Law and Ordinance Coverage in the amount of at least 25% of the Dwelling Policy Limit (also additional dollars available in the event of the need to rebuild). Law and Ordinance Coverage is defined as coverage for increased costs of demolition, construction, renovation, or repair associated with the enforcement of building ordinances and laws.

2) Every “Replacement Cost” policy offered for purchase in Colorado for a “Dwelling” must include at least 12 months of “Loss of Use” (Additional Living Expenses or ALE) coverage. (In the event it is necessary after a covered loss to be out of the home due to evacuation, repairs, or replacement). A “dwelling” means a single-family home, other than a mobile home, condominium, or manufactured home, that is used as a primary residence by the owner of the dwelling.The law requires insurers to offer the homeowner the option of buying 24 months of ALE. Most homeowners after losing a home are out of their homes for more than a year.

3) Bill voids any provision in a homeowner’s policy that requires the policyholder to sue the insurer in the case of any dispute within a shorter period of time than allowed for by the applicable statute of limitations.

Provisions of the Act that will go into effect on January 1st, 2015
1) All endorsements, disclosure forms, and policies must not exceed the 10th grade reading level, as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula. Insurers shall revise all policies issued or renewed in Colorado after January 1, 2015, to meet these standards.

2) The insurer must consider an estimate from a licensed contractor or architect submitted by the policyholder as the basis for establishing the replacement cost of a dwelling.

3) The insurer must give the policyholder an electronic or paper copy of the entire policy including the declaration page and any endorsements within 3 business days after a loss, and upon request, a “certified copy” within 30 days.

4) In the event of an insured total loss, the insurer must offer a minimum of 30% of your contents limits without making the homeowner submit a detailed itemized inventory list.

5) The insurer must make available to the policyholder the methodology used for depreciating the value of the personal property of the homeowner.

6) The policyholder has at least a full year after a total loss to submit an inventory of lost or damaged property.

7) The policyholder has a minimum of 365 days after the Additional Living Expense (ALE) benefits are used to replace property and recoup depreciation by collecting full replacement value.

8) Insurance agents and brokers must take at least three hours of continuing education on homeowner coverages during a two-year period.

9) A summary disclosure must be given to policyholders annually including statements that
a) The policyholder is responsible for selecting the amount of coverage
b) The policyholder is responsible for assessing improvements to the home and notifying the
insurer;
c) The policyholder may purchase additional coverage with appropriate documentation
d) The policyholder should update the inventory of contents regularly and store the inventory
off-site.

Please contact your current insurance company with any questions you may have on how the new Act will affect your current policy and any other questions you may have regarding your policy. It is important to follow up with your insurance company once a year to go over your coverage.

Disclaimer: This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal or accounting advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.
© Copyright, 2013, by Land Title Guarantee Company