Springtime and summer mean it’s time to head outdoors. But does your insurance policy need attention first? One of the best homeowner insurance tips is to protect your home before it needs it, and that requires an insurance checkup.
A typical homeowner insurance policy may not cover everything you think it should. And the last thing you need is to learn where your policy is lacking after you need it. By then, it’s too late.
So before summer kicks into high gear, take a few minutes to examine the policy you have, and think about whether you need more. Just because it’s suited your needs fine until now, doesn’t mean an unhappy surprise isn’t looming around the corner.
Here are three home owner’s insurance checkup tips to think about:
Homeowner Insurance Tip #1: Pools May Need Extra Insurance
When you look at a sparkling, backyard swimming pool, the last word that may come to mind is “nuisance.” But that’s exactly what the law thinks of private swimming pools, trampolines and other fun outdoor equipment.
Swimming pools and other dangerous outdoor fixtures that could reasonably attract a child onto your property, need additional insurance. If your homeowner’s policy doesn’t cover you against personal injury claims, you need an upgrade.
The Doctrine of Attractive Nuisance (learn more about this on Wikipedia) is a legal doctrine that levies liability for a child’s injury firmly in the hands of the homeowner. This means even if a parent isn’t watching her child, you could be responsible for that child being injured on your property, whether or not you are home, and whether or not the child slipped onto your property without your permission.
Expect your insurance company to require the installation of appropriate protection measures, such as fencing, before issuing the additional coverage.
Homeowner Insurance Tip #2: Landscaping May Not be Covered
Landscaping can be a hefty investment, even if you do the work yourself. The simplest of plants aren’t cheap, and special items such as water features, trees and even the weed barrier fabric and mulch that make flower beds look tidy, come at a high cost.
Unfortunately, all your hard work and investment may be lost if your landscaping is wiped out during bad weather.
Most home owner’s policies only cover landscaping against fire damage, vandalism, criminal mischief, theft and a few other perils that may vary by insurer. But if a tornado, hurricane or flood destroy the landscaping, you may be out of luck.
Talk with your insurer if you have expensive landscaping on your property. In many cases, they can add more coverage to help you replace items lost during severe weather.
Homeowner Insurance Tip #3: Additional Buildings Don’t Have Full Coverage
You know your home is insured against loss, but what about a detached garage, shed or workshop on the property? In most cases, coverage is minimal.
Most home owner’s policies include “other structures” or “other improvements” that cover buildings on the property that are not the home itself. But this doesn’t mean you can replace the structure if it’s destroyed.
Count on “other structures” being covered at about 10% of the main dwelling’s coverage. In some cases, this may be enough but if you have a separate building that’s worth more than that, talk with your insurance agent about increasing your coverage.
Insurance is peace of mind. It’s one of those necessary things for living in the modern world. But your policy is only as good as its coverage, and it might not cover everything you think.
Before the summer season gets into full swing, think about what’s outside your home and whether you could replace it if it were lost. Homeowner insurance policies cover the dwelling first and foremost. For everything else, you have to ask and pay extra if required.
Do you have any homeowner insurance tips you’d like to share? We would love to learn about them!