Your Homeowner’s Insurance Might Provide Broader Financial Protection Than You Realize

Most individuals in Florida who own a residence have homeowner’s insurance to cover liability claims for injuries that occur on the premises and property damage caused by wind, lightning, sinkholes, vandalism, and an array of other perils.  Whether the policy was purchased because of a requirement imposed by your mortgage lender or to provide an important form of financial security for your family, these benefits of homeowner’s insurance are vital.  What fewer property owners in Miami and the surrounding areas of Florida know is that homeowner’s insurance covers much more than just liability for personal injury claims and damage to the home.  This blog post outlines other types of coverage that many homeowners do not even know exist under their policy.

Damage to Contents of the Residence: Some homeowners are unaware that homeowner’s insurance covers not only the physical structure of the home, but also personal property within the residence.  However, certain “high ticket” items might be subject to sub-limits, so an insureds should carefully review their policy to ensure they have adequate protection for such items.  For example, expensive jewelry, rare art, coin collections, and other items of this nature might be excluded or subject to special limits in terms of the amount of the coverage.  If a person owns valuable property of this nature inside the home, an insured might want to talk to his or her insurance agent or broker about extra coverage for these items.

Extra Expense to Comply with Law: Many people own their homeowner policy for years before they need to make a claim.  During this period, building codes and local ordinances can change substantially to require upgrades for new buildings.  For example, a local ordinance might be passed that requires sprinklers be installed in the yards of all homes.  While the home might have “grandfathered” status to navigate around these changes in the law, owners will usually be forced to comply with the new standards if more than a certain percentage of the building must be replaced or rebuilt.  These high standards can dramatically increase the cost of rebuilding.  The policy might cover this additional costs, but not all policies provide this type of coverage.  If homeowners wish to protect against the risk of having to pay this type of expense out of pocket, they might want to purchase “law and ordinance” coverage if it is not included in the standard policy.  A review of the policy will indicate whether additional coverage needs to be purchased.

Items that Spoil in a Refrigerator: If your home is damaged during a severe storm, there is a high probability that the power will go out for a period of time.  A homeowner policy will typically limit the amount covered to a reasonable amount, such as $500, but this will be adequate based on the value of the food that most people keep in their fridge/freezer.

Broad Liability Coverage for Harm Suffered on the Property: Most property owners understand that their homeowner insurance will provide the cost of defense and indemnity against losses for a slip and fall on the premises.  However, the types of liability claims that are included are much broader than many people realize.  For example, a homeowner policy may cover libel and slander claims filed against the property owner.  In other words, your coverage will provide financial protection if you are sued for verbal or written publication of false material that is defamatory (i.e. damages a person’s reputation).  Homeowner policies typically also may cover dog bite or mauling incidents.  This is important to know because dog bite claims account for a substantial portion of homeowner insurance claims and the largest single amount of payouts.  Since the average dog bite claim costs over $26,000, this is an important form of financial protection.

Injuries Away from the Property: Many people have no idea that a homeowner policy often provides protection against liability claims that occur away from the property.  Insurance companies have covered incidents where a pedestrian was injured when hit by a homeowner riding a bike.  Similarly, a homeowner policy could cover an incident in which a co-worker is injured while traveling for business when the co-worker is lifted and then inadvertently dropped.

Extra Expenses for Temporary Displacement: When a pipe bursts and floods the lower floor of a home or the roof is ripped off during a hurricane, a family can be forced to relocate on a temporary basis.  This coverage will usually be triggered if the condition of the home prior to repairs is “uninhabitable.”  Homeowner’s insurance typically will cover the “additional” living expenses associated with staying somewhere other than the family home.  These expenses might include hotel bills, higher cost of eating in restaurants rather than meals at home, and additional travel costs, such as commuting to work from further away. 

Personal Property of College Students Away at School: A homeowner’s policy might cover personal property of an insured’s son or daughter who is a student living in a college dorm while away at college.  However, this protection might not be available for college students who live in off-campus housing like an apartment.

Our Miami bad faith insurance law firm invites you to contact us if you are having difficulties with your insurance company.  Florida insurance claims lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles claims against insurance companies 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.

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