What does home insurance cover?

      Home insurance, often referred to as “hazard insurance” among industry professionals, is designed to be a safety net for homeowners if their house or its contents are damaged or destroyed by a variety of potential hazards, like fire, theft, or severe weather events.

      Until we personally review your documents, the Austin team can’t say for certain which types of unexpected events your specific insurance policy might cover. However, we are glad to share general coverage information about eight of the most common threats to homes like yours throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. It’s critical that homeowners understand how their standard home insurance works, so below we provide insight into what your policy might cover if your property is ever impacted by these events. We hope these details give you increased peace of mind knowing that your local insurance agent and your homeowners policy are designed to be there when you need them most.

      Austin’s insights into eight common home hazards and what standard home insurance may cover.

      • #1 Fire
        Typically, a home fire will be covered by your home insurance if the fire is caused by another covered event, like a lightning strike, or by human error, like unattended cooking. However, a few exclusions to coverage apply, such as if the fire is caused intentionally (arson) or breaks out due to an act of war. In most home fire situations, though, a standard homeowners policy may help you pay to repair or rebuild the impacted areas of your home and to replace personal belongings that have been damaged. Your standard home insurance policy typically also includes coverage that may assist you in paying for a hotel, pet care, and other additional expenses you might have to incur while your property is being restored, as long as they are above and beyond your family’s normal expenditures.
      • #2 Smoke Damage
        A home fire can also lead to extensive smoke damage, from discolored walls and ceilings to a pungent odor in carpeting, furniture, and your clothes. Fortunately, standard home insurance typically includes coverage for remediating smoke damage to your property. Some of the specific things your homeowners policy may help you pay for include the cost of removing soot, ash, and other remnants of the fire from your home. Your policy may also assist you with the cost of cleaning or replacing smoke-damaged items such as furniture, clothes, and carpeting. Additionally, if the smoke damage is so bad that you cannot stay in your home while it’s being restored, a typical home insurance policy may help cover additional expenses you take on while your family is displaced, like temporary housing or restaurant meals.
      • #3 Hail and Windstorms
        As a New England homeowner, you’re likely no stranger to the damage that strong winds and hail can cause to a house. Broken windows, dented siding, and ripped shingles are just a few of the ways these hazards can leave your property a wreck. The good news is that your standard home insurance policy may include coverage to help you pay for property damages in the aftermath of wind and hail. In addition, a standard homeowners policy may provide assistance with the costs related to replacing or repairing any personal belongings affected by these year-round weather threats. However, there is a bit of cautionary news, too. As the intensity of wind and hailstorms have picked up in our region, some insurance companies have chosen to adopt either a hail and wind exclusion or a high deductible for damages to exterior surfaces, including walls, roofs, doors, and windows, due to these hazards. Just another reason why it is very important to work with a local insurance professional, like Austin, who can help you understand what is included in your specific home insurance coverage and assist you in finding broader coverage if needed.
      • #4 Lightning
        One of the biggest worries a homeowner may have when a thunderstorm starts rumbling outside is whether a lightning bolt might hit their house. It’s not an irrational fear, especially since a lightning strike can lead to a fire in or around your property as well as many other serious issues, like damage to appliances, electronics, or your home’s entire wiring system. As long as the lightning strike is deemed a direct hit to your home, you typically can count on your standard homeowners insurance to help cover associated recovery costs, such as replacing appliances that were fried because of the strike and repairing areas of your home that were damaged. The coverage in a standard homeowners policy also generally extends to other structures on your property, like a garage or shed, that may have been damaged by lightning.
      • #5 Theft
        Despite all the smart home technology available these days to help homeowners deter burglars from breaking into their homes, home thefts (or at least attempted ones) still occur at an alarming rate. If you and your family end up being victims of this type of event, it’s likely that in the aftermath, you’ll be dealing with making repairs, changing locks, identifying missing items, and more. The other thing you’ll want to do is file a claim with your home insurance professional. A standard home insurance policy typically includes coverage that may help you pay for repairing and replacing items that were damaged or stolen. The caveat is that your home insurance probably includes coverage limits for specific items like jewelry, antiques, fine art, sports equipment, and other similar items that tend to be pricey. If you have belongings like these and want to make sure you can replace them up to their appraised value if they are lost, stolen, or destroyed, feel free to contact Austin. Our team is happy to help you explore the benefits of a scheduled personal property endorsement.
      • #6 Falling Objects
        With the extreme weather we are increasingly experiencing in our area, we’re sure many homeowners are concerned about a tree or large branch falling on their house—and rightly so. Trees cause billions of dollars in property damage each year. If you’re one of the unlucky homeowners that ends up having a tree land on your roof, fall across your driveway, or crash through your garage, fence, or another structure on your property, at least you can have peace of mind that your standard home insurance is likely to cover damage to the structure of your house and other personal property. Typically, this coverage applies to more than just trees, as they aren’t the only things that can unexpectedly fall onto your home. Though it may seem unlikely, there have been occurrences of debris from airplanes, asteroids, meteors, and even a satellite causing damage to a home. Generally, a standard home insurance policy is going to help you pay to repair property damages related to these types of falling objects.
      • #7 Weight of Snow and Ice
        A thick blanket of snow and ice on a roof can make your home look like it belongs in a Hallmark movie. While this may be pleasing to the eye, snow and ice that pile up on your roof can cause major damage—and not just to your roof, but also to your gutters, a back deck, and more. A standard homeowners policy typically helps cover the costs of fixing a sagging or collapsed roof weighed down by snow, ice, or sleet. It may also help you pay to repair or replace items in your home that are impacted by this hazard. In addition, your home insurance coverage might assist you in addressing one of New England homeowners’ biggest winter headaches—the ice dam—by helping you pay for damages to your home caused by the ice dam and possibly to remove a portion of the ice dam if it is directly causing a leak in your home.
      • #8 Water Damage
        Water that flows into your home from a broken appliance, a burst pipe, or a leaking roof can cause substantial damage to your home and belongings and typically requires extensive—and expensive—cleanup and repairs. In general, though, water damage may be covered by your standard home insurance if the event that caused it meets these four criteria: (1) it’s accidental; (2) it’s sudden; (3) it’s internal; and (4) it involves water that has never touched the ground outside your home. This means you might get financial assistance to help with the necessary remediation, home repairs, and replacement of ruined personal items. However, there are several common water-related events that are not covered by a standard homeowners policy, including a flood, sewer and drain backups, and seepage. If you want to explore some additional personal insurance solutions that may help you better protect your home and belongings from water damage, feel free to reach out to the Austin team.

      Your specific home insurance policy might also include coverage that protects your home and personal items against the following:

      • Vandalism
      • Volcanic Eruption
      • Explosion
      • Riot or Civil Commotion
      • Damage Caused by Aircraft
      • Damage Caused by Vehicles
      • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system, an air conditioning system, or an automatic fire-protective system
      • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current (does not include loss to a tube, transistor, or similar electronic component)

      Let Austin help you select the right insurance to cover your home

      While home insurance clearly provides protection against a broad range of possible events that may result in harm to your house or belongings, we can’t emphasize enough that coverage details, like limits and exclusions, often vary by policy and insurance company. In addition, as we already mentioned, there are several devastating events that a standard home insurance policy will not cover. So, if you’d like a deeper understanding of the coverage in your specific homeowners policy, as well as a thorough review of what risky coverage gaps might exist, please contact us.

      We are happy to walk you through your current policy and explain the hazards that may and may not be covered, along with many other important details you should know. Our knowledgeable team can make recommendations on ways you might be able to enhance your coverage, whether with a flood insurance policy, a guaranteed replacement cost endorsement, or other options that are designed to help you better safeguard your property and belongings.

      To experience our personalized approach to home insurance, please call the Austin Insurance team today at 781-447-5561.