What’s Covered by my Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?

Jul 31 2018

If your home has been damaged by water, fire, or a storm, it can be hard to navigate the insurance process. What does your insurance policy cover? What isn’t covered? If your home is damaged, how much should you actually pay? Here’s a brief overview of what’s covered (and what’s not) under the most basic homeowner’s insurance policy to give you an idea of how the insurance process works.

What Is the Most Common Insurance Policy?

While each insurance company is different, the most common homeowner’s insurance policy is the HO-3. The HO-3 policy covers most basic damages to your home, including water damage, fire and smoke damage, and storm damage. However, there are a few exceptions.

What Does the HO-3 policy cover?

Water Damage

Water damage because of weather or in-home appliances are often covered by the HO-3 policy. This means your insurance covers water damage caused by:

  • Burst pipes
  • Broken water heater or water softener
  • Leaky HVAC system
  • Leaky roof from heavy rains

What Water Damage Isn’t Covered?

The HO-3 policy won’t cover the cost of repairs if your home was damaged by:

  • Flooding of rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water. Flood insurance is a separate policy. In fact, many areas in Minnesota require homeowners to purchase flood insurance if they live on a floodplain.
  • Something you could have prevented. For example, if you already had a hole in your roof before it started to rain and your home was damaged by the rain, your insurance company would label it as something you could have prevented.

Mold Damage

Mold is often not covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy unless the mold was caused by water damage from sources listed above. If mold grows in your house and it’s something you could have prevented, your insurance company won’t cover it.

Imagine that your basement floods. If mold grows because of the flooded basement it’s covered under the water damage portion of your policy. However, mold growing in your bathroom because it was insufficiently cleaned isn’t covered.

Fire and Smoke Damage

As long as the fire wasn’t something you could have easily prevented, fire and smoke damage are covered by your policy. This means that your home is covered if your home is damaged by:

  • Grease fires
  • Wildfires
  • Fire pits
  • Electrical fires

What Fire Damage Isn’t Covered?

Your home isn’t covered when damaged by arson. In fact, deliberately setting your home on fire to file a claim on your insurance policy is known as arson insurance fraud. Your insurance company will investigate the fire, and if they determine arson was the cause the damage won’t be covered.

Fire damage while your home is vacant isn’t covered either. Insurance companies consider a home vacant if it hasn’t been occupied for over 30 days. However, there is a separate policy available that covers vacant homes if you’re planning on staying away from your home for extended periods of time.

Storm Damage

Your home is covered in most instances if damaged by a storm. Some of these include:

  • Lightning
  • Windstorm
  • Hail
  • Fallen objects

That means your home is covered in the case of a tornado, ice dams on your roof, and a fallen tree, too. However, what’s covered and what isn’t can be tricky when it comes to storm damage. For example, if a river floods your home after heavy rains your home insurance won’t cover it, as it counts as flood damage. A roof leak caused by heavy rains should be covered, however!

A tree that's fallen on a home.

What Storm Damage Isn’t Covered?

The most common things not covered by the HO-3 policy are:

  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Landslides, mudslides, and sinkholes
  • Preventable damage
  • Sewer backup

While they aren’t covered in the main policy, you can add on extra perils, such as flood insurance or earthquake insurance to your policy. Determining what you need can be as simple as figuring out what natural disasters your home is at risk of.

Is a Home Remodel Covered By My Insurance Policy?

If your home has been damaged by something covered by your insurance policy, your insurance company will pay a determined cost to get your home back to how it was. While you can choose to remodel your home after it’s been damaged, the cost of both restoring and remodelling won’t be covered.

Want to Learn More About the Insurance Process?

Want more details on how to navigate home insurance when working with a restoration company? You can learn more about our insurance process here.

Learn More

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