If you snooze soundly at night believing your beloved house is 110% covered by homeowners’ insurance, better get the melatonin-there are probably some gaps in that coverage.
Two of the biggest doozies are flooding and earthquakes — but just because you’re not searching through homes along the San Andreas fault line doesn’t mean you’re risk-free. Mind these gaps, then dial up your friendly neighborhood agent to begin plugging the holes and get updated, adequate homeowners’ insurance rates.Flooding:
We all say, “It can’t happen here,” until it does. Just ask people who hunkered down during the recent flooding in South Carolina! Whether or not you reside in a flood plain, you should bite the bullet and spring for separate flood insurance, because that potential calamity does NOT fall under most homeowner plans. It’s a small yearly outlay that can save your hide down the line: According to Flood Smart, flood claims over the last five years averaged $39,000, but the annual average cost for flood insurance clocked in at a mere $700.
Backup damage is a whole other can of watery worms — it’s water damage that comes from the ground up (think clogged sewer or sump pump). But just like some other damage, backups are NOT covered by most standard homeowners’ policy. Despite your best efforts to properly care and maintain your systems, you can still experience problems. Like tree roots growing around or into your pipes. It can also be easy to forget when you need to have your tank pumped again—until you start experiencing a stinky, mosquito-ridden problem mid-July. Don’t risk a backed up basement and loss of personal items: spring for the additional backup coverage…it’s another tiny expense that could have you exhaling in relief down the line.
With water comes spores, and lots of them, embedding themselves into your air ducts and behind your drywall. Mold occurs naturally, and many species are harmless, but the wrong species in your home can be a true health hazard. The CDC ticks off nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, wheezing, and eye and skin irritations as just some of the side effects, which can be much worse for children and those with asthma. Whether you’re covered or not comes down to the origin of your mold. A sudden burst pipe that you work to address immediately? You’re probably good. But if you happen upon a mold issue when renovating your home, that removal is going to come out of your own pocket.
Earthquake insurance: it’s not just for Californians anymore. Tremors happen everywhere. Don’t believe us? The U.S. Geological Survey’s seismic hazard map should do a pretty good job convincing you. Even if you’re not in a tremor-centric area, you still need to know that earthquake damage is NOT covered under a standard homeowners’ policy.
If you inherited one or just like swimming a few laps every day, you might want to start quaking in your water wings when the neighborhood kids come over for a dip. With good reason: Your liability coverage probably doesn’t go nearly high enough when it comes to pool-related injuries (and the inevitable legal expenses). Call your insurance company and increase your limit — then build a fence around that sucker for good measure (or, if it is no longer used, convert it into a food producing farm).
(Side note: You’re also not covered if your pool freezes over and causes structural damage, so drain it or winterize it long before the first frost appears.)
Ready for this? Termites cause an average of $5 billion worth of damage a year in the U.S. alone, according to the National Pest Management Association And none of that is covered by homeowners’ insurance. To insure your home against termite damage you will need a termite bond which is a contract between a homeowner and a termite control company. The bond should outline the frequency and type of treatment to be provided, and may include re-treatment and repair guarantees at no additional charge.
It’s true: Trampolines are springy deathtraps. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2014 alone, there were 104,691 ER-worthy injuries associated with trampolines. That’s a lot of clunked heads, and insurance companies have taken notice. Some have begun restricting coverage unless you add spring pads and a net enclosure to your trampoline; others are excluding coverage entirely.
Jewelry, Collectibles and Fine Art:
Most standard policies have limits for how much they will cover if something happens to things like jewelry or other expensive collectibles. The best way to protect these items is to get a separate insurance rider that specifies exactly what these items are.
Construction Work Damage:
If you are renovating your home, a standard homeowners insurance policy likely won’t cover any damage done to your house. Ask your provider about a separate policy to cover any potential damage. If you hire a contractor, make sure he/she is licensed for any liability.
Consult with your insurance agent on what may not be covered under your policy!