While homeowner’s insurance provides important financial protection for property owners, all policies contain exclusions and limitations that define the extent of the protection provided. In broad terms, homeowner’s insurance policies provide two types of coverage: (1) coverage for the repair or replacement of property caused by covered perils and (2) personal liability coverage if others are injured on your property. All policyholders should discuss the protection they need with their insurance agent and read their policy carefully. This blog post provides some common exclusions and situations that might not be covered. Part I of the blog focuses on exclusions related to property damage, and Part II focuses on common exceptions under the liability portion of homeowner’s policies.
Property Damage Exclusions
Some common exceptions to claims for damage to your home and personal property located at your home include:
Losses caused by intentional acts of an insured will be excluded. While losses that result from negligence may be covered, a policyholder’s failure to properly look after the property may limit or effect coverage. For example, damage caused by freezing pipes that leak may be excluded if the policyholder does not use “best efforts” to keep the pipes heated or to drain liquids.
Damage caused by certain types of manmade and natural disasters are typically excluded like war, earthquake, flood or a nuclear hazard. If these perils are excluded, you may be able to purchase a separate policy or a rider on your homeowner policy to cover these hazards.
The majority of policies provide coverage for building collapse because of a lack of structural integrity, but they exclude damage caused by settling or shifting of the soil. This exclusion often turns on the cause of the settling and the speed and degree of the earth subsistence.
Policies may exclude losses caused by violation of building codes or other government laws that result in condemnation or
confiscation of the property.
Damage caused by water leakage that continues for more than 14 days may be excluded.
Most policies exclude losses caused by radiation regardless of the event that caused the radiation exposure.
Many policies exclude losses related to loss of utility services like electricity.
The exclusion for pollution has been the subject of considerable dispute. Some courts limit pollution to contaminants in the environment that people normally think of when considering pollution. Items like mold that represents a form of contamination inside a home might fall outside the pollution exclusion.
While the cost of removing vermin and bugs that infest a home is generally excluded, the cost of repairing the damage caused by such pests typically is covered.
Many losses may appear to be excluded under a particular exclusion while other language of the policy suggests the peril or loss is covered. When you are in the middle of a dispute with your insurance company about the scope of coverage and applicable exclusions, you should not rely on the representative of your insurance carrier to give you reliable objective information. Insurance companies work diligently to justify denying, delaying or underpaying claims based on the identifying policy language that will justify such adverse treatment of claims. If your insurance company is not dealing with you fairly when you have a legitimate claim, you should consult with a Florida homeowner’s insurance coverage attorney who has the experience and skill to take on large insurance companies.
If you have questions about some of the exclusions related to liability under your homeowner’s policy, we invite you to read Part II of this blog post. If your homeowner’s insurance company denies your claim or refuses to represent you regarding a liability claim for injury on your property, you should seek legal advice. I am an experienced Miami homeowner’s insurance claims attorney and former claims adjuster who handles disputed claims in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.