Owning your own home is a significant accomplishment, but it can also come with a fair share of maintenance and mishaps. For this reason, some banks and lending institutions require you to get homeowner’s insurance as a condition to obtaining a mortgage. Even if you’re not required to, it’s a good idea to purchase homeowner’s insurance, considering all the things that can go wrong on your property. Read on to learn more about homeowner’s insurance, including what’s covered and the insurance company’s obligations to you.
What’s Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?
Of course, the best way to know what’s covered by your homeowner’s insurance, as well as the dollar limits for each category, is to read your policy thoroughly and to speak with a knowledgeable insurance attorney. However, standard policies typically include some of the same coverage, including:
- Accidental injuries sustained by others while on your property
- Damage caused by lightning, tornadoes, fire, wind storms, and hail (though you may need to purchase separate coverage if you live in a high-risk area for a given type of natural disaster)
- Water damage caused by plumbing or heating issues within the home
- Theft and vandalism
Additionally, if a policy provides coverage for personal property, that often includes property damaged or lost even while away from your home. It’s also important to note that although you can purchase additional coverage, many standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not typically cover certain occurrences, such as the following:
- Injuries caused by intentional acts of the homeowner
- Flood and mudslide damage due to rain, snow, and other outside water sources
- Earthquake damage
Obligations of the Insurance Company
One of the reasons to have homeowner’s insurance is in case someone is injured while on your property and they sue you for damages like medical costs. In that event, the insurance company must provide your legal defense. The attorney they select will then represent you against the injured party. However, the insurance company may not have to pay the damages for claims that aren’t covered by your policy.
Insurance companies also have to abide by your state’s insurance laws regarding their general obligations to act in good faith as part of their contract with you. This includes making a good faith investigation into claims, and abiding by state laws regarding marketing practices, underwriting policies, and rate-setting procedures. Each state also regulates how insurance companies cancel or refuse to renew a homeowner’s insurance policy. Normally, the company can only cancel your policy if you don’t pay your premiums, if you gave false information on your application, or if your risk assessment has changed significantly. However, insurance companies typically have the right not to renew your policy once the policy term expires. In either case, the company must give you appropriate notice according to your state’s laws.
Dealing with a Denied Insurance Claim
If you’ve filed a timely claim under your homeowner’s insurance policy, but the insurance company has denied your claim, you have a few options. You can try to resolve the issue with the company by sending a rebuttal of the denial, clarifying why your claim should be covered. You should examine your policy closely to provide justifications for your reasoning.
Additionally, your insurance company has a contractual obligation to pay for legitimate claims covered by your policy. If you believe they have denied a legitimate claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the insurance company for breach of contract or for acting in bad faith. Lastly, you can also file a complaint with your state’s insurance organization, which helps to regulate the insurance industry.
Having Trouble with Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?
With your home and personal belongings at stake, homeowner’s insurance can mean the difference between a devastating loss and a manageable inconvenience. But not all policies cover the same thing, and some insurance companies may try to deny legitimate claims. If you’re having issues with your homeowner’s insurance, speak with a knowledgeable, local insurance attorney who can help protect your interests.