With over 60% of Americans owning a house and perceiving homeownership as a life goal, the demand for homeowners insurance is always high. At least 85% of homeowners have basic coverage, paying an annual average of $1,500 for it.
But some homeowners don’t know that their insurance is not all-encompassing. While covering your home and its contents, as well as providing liability coverage, basic policies cannot save you from all possible perils. Landslides, earthquakes, sinkholes, and neglect are usually not covered and therefore may lead to substantial financial losses should the unexpected happen.
What Is Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance – also known as an HO-3 policy – is not all-encompassing, but it does cover a lot. See the table below.
Typical Homeowners Policy
|Coverage Type||What Is Included|
|Dwelling (Coverage A)||The structure of the building and its roof, as well as heating, plumbing, and electrical systems. |
Excluded: exterior structures
|Other Structures (Coverage B)||Exterior structures of your home (the parts that sit on a separate foundation): garages, fences, sheds, and bards.|
|Personal Property||Your personal possessions: appliances, furniture, etc. |
Excluded: costly items, such as jewelry, family relics, or works of art
|Liability||Injury (dog bites, intoxication, home accidents, falling trees, etc.) and damage to other people’s property caused by you (the policyholder) and the members of your household.|
|Guest Medical Protection||Medical expenses sustained by guests injured on your property.|
|Loss of Use (Additional Living Expenses)||Lodging expenses while your house is uninhabitable due to the damage or if you cannot return to the property due to wildlife, storm, or other weather event.|
What Is Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
What is covered and what is not covered by your policy depends, first of all, on the type of policy and the state you’re in. However, most standard homeowners insurance policies exclude the following:
- Earthquakes, floods, and sinkholes
- Termites and insects
Earthquakes, Water Damage, Landslides, and Sinkholes
A standard homeowners policy does not cover earthquakes, landslides, and water damage unless the state is located in a flood-prone, landslide-prone, or earthquake-prone zone. For example, in California, earthquakes are usually covered by a standard homeowners policy.
- Earthquake-prone states are Arkansas, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wyoming, and Washington.
- Landslide-prone states are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.
- Flood-prone states are Florida, Louisiana, California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Georgia.
- The states with the most damage from sinkholes are Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Tennessee.
Earthquakes, water damage, landslides, and sinkholes can be covered with special endorsements to your basic homeowners insurance policy. Additional coverage will increase your premium.
Damage from termites is usually not covered by a home insurance policy, as it is believed that it can be prevented with maintenance like regular checking for changes in wooden areas, avoiding the accumulation of moisture in the foundation, and maintaining an 18-inch minimum between the wood portions and the soil.
- Termite-prone states are Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
- Termite-prone locations are Jacksonville (Florida), Dallas (Texas), Baton Rouge (Louisiana), Houston (Texas), Oklahoma City (Oklahoma), San Diego (California), and Philadelphia (Pennsylvania).
You can include termite coverage in your homeowners insurance policy as an endorsement.
Mold, rust, rot, termite damage, and most other misfortunes usually come from maintenance issues and neglect. But, of course, no homeowners plan, regardless of whether it’s basic or extended, will cover neglect.
What Is the Minimum Homeowners Coverage?
Homeowners insurance is not required in the United States. As for the reasonable minimum, it is recommended to have:
- Dwelling coverage: as much as your home’s replacement cost (how much it would cost you to rebuild your home if it’s damaged or destroyed)
- Personal property coverage: as much as it would cost to replace your personal belongings
- Liability coverage: as much as you can afford, but no less than $100,000
- Loss of use coverage: up to 30% of your dwelling coverage
Note that about 60% of all homes in the United States are underinsured. Try to determine the proper balance between your budget and risk tolerance so you can get peace of mind and adequate coverage.
Oleksandr is an expert in deep research. He covers insurance topics across four major insurance verticals – auto, health, life, and home insurance – while taking into account the legal landscape of the state in question. Come rain or shine, you can expect regular quality blogs and timely updates from Oleksandr.