6 Surprising Things Homeowners Insurance Covers
Meteor fallout? Check. Gravestone destruction? Check. Read on for more unexpected items a standard policy insures
Your daughter’s drone nosedives at a playground and injures another child. The $150 in cash you got for some vintage James Brown singles turns out to be counterfeit. A SpaceX rocket part falls to earth and creams your three-car garage.
Don’t fret! Your homeowners insurance probably has you covered.
You may not know it, but your homeowners (or renters) policy may very well pick up all or part of the tab for your losses or related expenses. It will pay for medical treatment for the child hurt by the drone and reimburse you for the counterfeit cash. And it will help make you whole from that freak attack from outer space.
“Most people don’t know they have coverage for a drone and even for damage caused by meteors,” says Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization. Indeed, she says homeowners insurance protects you from a lot of risks and perils beyond the fire, property theft, and weather damage it’s best known for covering.
Below are six of the most surprising hazards and situations that a standard policy typically covers. Check the fine print in your own policy or talk with your agent for specific details regarding your own policy.
Your policy may cover damage or injury caused by drones used by members of your household, whether it happens on or off your property, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
What if your drone inadvertently photographs someone who then sues you for invasion of privacy? Your policy may cover your defense in that case as well.
And like any property covered by your policy, if your drone is stolen, homeowners insurance will pay for its replacement, subject to a deductible. Of course, it only makes sense to file a claim if the price of your drone is more than your deductible, so be sure to do the math first.
Just remember: A homeowners policy covers only noncommercial drone use.
2. Your Kid’s Dorm Décor
Your homeowners insurance covers items stolen from your home and protects household property when it’s outside the home. That includes stuff in your kid’s dorm room. It also includes property stolen from your car or boat; those losses aren’t covered by your auto or boat insurance. The dollar limit of this coverage is usually 10 percent of the total coverage on all of your personal property.
Just remember: “If the child is spending a semester in an off-campus apartment that’s not college housing, they may not be covered under the parents’ off-premises portion of the homeowners policy,” Worters says. So consider purchasing a renters policy if your child is in this situation. It covers theft and liability—say, someone trips in your child’s residence, gets injured, and sues— and damage from fire, smoke, and other hazards.
3. Space Debris and Other Falling Objects
Damage to your home, outbuildings, and personal property from meteors, asteroids, aircraft, rockets, satellites and other falling objects is insured under a typical homeowners policy. If a celestial object hits your car, however, you’ll have to make a claim with your car insurer.
Just remember: With damage from fallen trees or tree limbs—less exotic but far more likely than space junk—you should file the claim with your insurer regardless of whether the tree belongs to you or your neighbor.
4. Unauthorized Use of Your ATM, Credit, or Debit Cards
As with counterfeit cash, a homeowners or renters policy typically reimburses up to $500 in losses per incident if someone uses any of these cards to steal money from you or buy items in your name. The same goes for forged checks you unwittingly cash, and for losses you suffer due to someone forging your signature on a check.
“This is an example in which your policy deductible doesn’t apply,” Worters says. In other words, you don’t have to meet your deductible before the insurance kicks in; you’ll simply get paid your losses up to $500.
Just remember: Even though your homeowners policy will cover you, report the loss to the card issuer first, and make a homeowners insurance claim your backup option. Credit and debit card companies are required to reimburse or reverse the charges on all but $50 of unauthorized charges or withdrawals as long as you report the incident within 48 hour of discovering it, notes Christina Tetreault, a senior policy counsel at Consumer Reports. The same goes for prepaid cards.
If you miss the 48-hour window, the card issuer is responsible only for returning sums in excess of $500. In these instances, make a claim with your homeowners insurance company to get fully reimbursed.
5. Graveyard Smash
If a headstone, burial vault, or other property on a cemetery plot you own is damaged or stolen, your insurance will reimburse you. You’re covered for the same perils as with other types of property. That could include, for instance, damage by fire or a falling object, vandalism, and theft of a gravestone or statuary.
Just remember: The coverage limit is typically up to $5,000, says Worters.
6. Dog Bites and Other Pet Damage
If Nessie nips your neighbor—on your property or elsewhere—the resulting medical bills are covered by your homeowners insurance. You’re also covered if she scratches the finish on your neighbor’s new Audi or does other property damage.
Just remember: This coverage applies only to harm your pet does to other people and their property, not your own. And certain breeds—pit bulls, Dobermans and chow chows, for instance—usually aren’t covered. Check your policy for your insurer’s guidelines.