Now let's take a look at what is usually not covered under these types of insurance. These are known as "exclusions", but you may be able to get coverage in these areas with a rider or umbrella policy. Your individual policy may exclude more items than listed below, so consult with your agent.
- Ordinance or Law: If the dwelling does not comply with local building codes, the insurer will not be liable for the cost of construction to bring the structure up to code.
- Earth Movements: This includes two distinct types of earth movements, including shifting earth (landslides) in the foundation of a home and earthquakes. These may be considered two separate coverage areas, so being covered for one may not mean being covered for the other.
- Water Damage: This includes flood, water backing up in sewers or drains, water seeping through basement walls etc.
- Neglect: This excludes losses resulting from direct or indirect neglect and failure to use reasonable means to protect property.
- War: Damage caused by any type of war or nuclear weapons attack.
- Nuclear Hazard: This defined as any nuclear reaction, radiation, or radioactive contamination, (whether controlled or uncontrolled). Any loss caused by nuclear hazard as it is defined will not be considered loss caused by fire, explosion, or smoke, even if these perils are specifically named in your policy.
- Intentional Loss: Any damage intentionally done to one's own property is excluded for obvious reasons.
As with any type of insurance, it is critical that you read the insurance policy so that you know exactly what it will cover. The amount of coverage you should consider should be based on the replacement cost value of your home or property. Replacement costs on one's dwelling provides that if, at the time of loss, the amount of insurance covers at least 80% of the replacement cost of the dwelling, the loss will be paid on a replacement cost basis. Keep in mind that this still leaves the homeowner on the hook for the remaining 20% in the event of a total loss.
Oftentimes, the bank or institution holding your mortgage will require that you maintain a specific amount of coverage. However, even if your home is paid off, you should still consider having the appropriate amount of insurance protection, which might include coverage for physical damage as well as liability protection for the owners.Other Considerations
Depending on where you live and given the unpredictability of nature, specifically the weather, you should consider other types of insurance to protect your property. For example:Flood Insurance
Flood insurance is becoming more and more popular as places that normally would not experience floods are suddenly finding themselves suffering losses as a result of extreme weather. To the surprise of many of these homeowners, their regular homeowners insurance policy did not cover against flood. This is a separate type of coverage that you will have to purchase if you consider flood to be a risk for your business or property.
If you live in a flood-prone area and you have a mortgage, the lender will require you to purchase adequate coverage to insure the property. If you own the property, you can elect to self-insure and not buy insurance, but you have to remember that any damage caused as a result of flooding will be your financial responsibility. The cost of this kind of damage can run from the hundreds to thousands of dollars, so it's worth considering purchasing the insurance to transfer this risk, especially, if you live in a flood zone. If you don't live in a flood-prone area, you may qualify for a discounted rate, which means a lower premium for you. Windstorm Insurance
Like flood insurance, windstorm insurance is a separate type of coverage that protects your home or business against wind damage. Wind damage may result from items flying and destroying your property as a result of a hurricane, hail, snow, sand or dust.Coverage for windstorm may be limited in states prone to hurricane and tornadoes. If you live in a state like Florida
or the Carolinas
, which are frequently barraged by tropical storms or hurricanes, this should be an integral part of your asset protection planning. Consult with your agent or broker for more details on this type of coverage.Umbrella Liability Policies
Umbrella insurance helps you protect your assets if you are sued. If you are worried that the liability insurance coverage you have through your auto or property policies is still not enough, you can consider adding an umbrella policy. An umbrella policy is basically an additional policy that kicks in when your other insurance policies have reached their limits. The amount of coverage and types of coverage offered by these policies varies, as will their premiums. You can tag on an umbrella policy to your homeowners or auto insurance policy to protect your assets against liability or lawsuits. (For background reading, see Cover Your Company With Liability Insurance and Filling The Gaps In General Liability Insurance.)
Certain exclusions apply, including:
- Owned or leased aircraft or watercraft
- Business pursuits
- Professional services
- Any act committed by the insured with the intent to cause personal injury or property damage
Umbrella policies are fairly inexpensive to acquire, and coverage ranges from $1 million to $ 5 million or more. You might expect to pay between $200 to $500 for $1 million in coverage. There is no specific "umbrella deductible". Because an umbrella policy is written on top of any auto or personal property coverage you have, the benefit does not kick in until you satisfy the deductible on those policies and have used up the coverage from either the auto or property policy.
Homeowners insurance is a critical component of anyone's risk management planning. There may always be a threat of property loss from fire, theft or bad weather. Having an accurate home inventory of your possessions can make settlement claims a lot easier and faster. Insurance agents suggest that all homeowners keep receipts, descriptions, photos or video of the items they own. Once your list and evidence of ownership is itemized, store this in a safety deposit box or other safe location outside of your home, along with a copy of your policy.