December 10, 2020

After you buy a house, you want to make sure the property and your belongings are insured against damage. Homeowner’s insurance protects you in the event of an accident or disaster involving your home. It insures your house and contents, for losses due to fire, lightning, theft, or vandalism, as well as personal liability claims brought against you. Some types of disaster-related damage, however, such as by floods or earthquakes, are typically not covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, instead requiring separate policies.

The cost of homeowner’s insurance premiums varies by region, depending on factors such as local crime rates, local building costs, and risk of natural disasters. There are also often discounts if you have safety precautions in your home such as deadbolts, smoke detectors, and security systems.

Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies include four types of coverage: coverage for the building structure, coverage for personal belongings, personal liability coverage, and additional living expenses if you cannot live at home due to insured damage.

Coverage for the building structure:  This is to repair or rebuild your home (and sometimes detached structures like tool sheds and garages) if it is damaged by a covered accident or disaster, such as fire or hurricane. You want to make sure the coverage amount is enough to rebuild your home if it is completely destroyed.

Coverage for personal belongings:  This type of coverage is for any furniture, clothing, etc. that is damaged by a covered accident/disaster. (Most policies also include off-premises coverage, meaning items stolen from your car would also be insured.) While expensive items like jewelry are often covered, it is normally only up to a maximum amount, so you may need to purchase another policy or endorsement if you want these things insured up to their full value. Landscaping items such as trees can also be covered, but not for damage caused by poor maintenance or disease.

Personal liability coverage:  Though not necessarily related to your home, most standard policies include coverage for lawsuits for property damage or bodily injury caused by you, your family, and your pets. Policies also normally include no-fault medical coverage, if someone is injured in your home.

Additional living expenses:  This covers your hotel and meal costs if you cannot live at home for some period of time due to a covered accident/disaster.

Even though it’s most commonly known as homeowner’s insurance, you can also get renter’s insurance if you rent instead of own, which provides similar liability and property protections (although it doesn’t cover the building itself, as that would be the landlord’s responsibility).

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This article is based on the law as of the date posted at the top of the article. This article does not constitute the provision of legal advice, and does not by itself create an attorney-client relationship with Eskridge Law.