Whether you own your own home or live in a rental, homeowners insurance is a worthwhile investment. It covers everything from losses and damages to your house and belongings, as well as some surprising extras. Please keep in mind that I’m about to tell you what’s common, not necessarily what’s in your particular policy. The only way to know that is to read your policy.
The art of flying drones has become a popular form of recreation in recent years. If your teen son who thinks he knows everything, including how to fly your new drone, happens to fly it through your neighbor’s plate glass window, the cost of replacing that window is likely covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. If, however, you bought that drone to start a new drone videography business, this is now a commercial enterprise and any damage caused to your neighbors’ property during a practice session is not covered by your homeowners insurance.
Visitors from Space
If a meteorite (or any other visitors from space) should crash through the roof of your garage and land on your new car, the hole in your roof is likely covered by the homeowners insurance. The damage to your car may require auto insurance.
If you happen to leave your credit card or ATM card on the counter while picking up dinner at a local restaurant and an unscrupulous person picks it up and goes on a spending spree, your homeowners policy will likely cover up to $500 in losses per incident, depending on your coverage.
Items Stolen from Random Places
If a thief steals your property from your home, your car, your boat, or even your son’s or daughter’s college dorm, it’s covered, usually up to about 10 percent of the total coverage on all your personal property.
If you can prove that you own the beautiful marble headstone at great-grandpa’s burial site at the local cemetery and vandals deface or break it, your homeowner’s policy should cover the cost of the stone’s replacement.
If your lovable family dog takes a chunk out of the postal carrier’s leg, your homeowners insurance should cover not only the medical bills, but also any legal claims about pain and suffering and loss of employment.
If you hire someone to do basic repairs and landscaping around your house and they trip on the hose, the cost of their medical care is likely covered. If, however, you hire an unlicensed worker to do work that requires a contractor’s license, all bets are off. If you need a licensed contractor, plumber, electrician, or other tradesperson, don’t skimp. Not only is non-licensed work likely to be substandard, you’re opening yourself up to liability.
According to my insurance agent, should I inadvertently injure a bystander while legally using my concealed-carry weapon to defend myself, my homeowners policy will cover the damage.
Read Your Policy
I cannot stress enough the importance of reading your policy. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: the big print giveth and the small print taketh away. Here’s an example. When I was in the market for an errors and omissions policy to cover my loan department, the big print said: Errors and Omissions for Real Estate-Backed Lending. The small print in the form of exclusions at the very bottom of the policy excluded private money loans—the exact activity I was purchasing the policy to cover.
If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.
Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.