If you just recently became a homeowner, you should've also recently begun a new insurance policy for that very big asset you just acquired. Home insurance providers make a point to tell you about the main events your policy covers - burglary, fire, natural disasters - but the more minor things tend to go unmentioned. Knowing what is and isn't commonly covered under home insurance can be useful in the process of buying a home as well. A home inspection that uncovers a potentially costly defect may cause you to reconsider.
As Realtor.com suggested, every home insurance policy holder needs to do their due diligence and learn what is and is not covered. These stipulations can change depending not only on the insurance provider, but the state in which you reside as well. Before diving into a sea of fine print, learn which common yet minor catastrophes are not usually covered by insurance.
While damage from a falling tree during a storm may be covered in your specific policy, a power surge that zaps your computer or other electronics may not. As insurance professional Billy Van Jura told Realtor.com, power surges are considered a normal event, and typically the fault of the utility provider. A power surge caused by a lightning strike, however, is often considered "an act of God," and is therefore typically covered under homeowner's insurance. According to ConsumerAffairs.com, a homeowner's best protection against damaging power surges is not an insurance policy, but a surge protector. These devices mitigate the effects of a power surge and should keep electronics safe during a lightning storm or other power grid abnormality.
Another unfortunate consequence of a power surge or outage brought on by a storm is the potential loss of perishable food. Without electricity to stay cold, food in the fridge or freezer can spoil after a few days, possibly resulting in a few hundred dollars of food lost. According to Van Jura, home insurance rarely covers these losses, although some providers do include coverage for "refrigerated property" at an additional fee. This could amount to as much as an extra $20 per year, with a cap on lost goods anywhere from $200 to $500.
Damage from a fire, storm or other natural disaster may necessitate upgrades to bring your home into compliance with local building codes. However, homeowner's insurance policies often won't cover these additional upgrades. Since these insurance policies are designed to reimburse you only for the damage sustained, they do not account for any future improvements that would increase the total value of your home.
"Your homeowner's insurance policy will pay to put you in the same position you were in prior to the loss," Van Jura told Realtor.com. "The rest is an out-of-pocket expense."
For example, if your electrical wiring is outdated when it is damaged in a storm or fire, local ordinance may require you to upgrade your entire wiring system before being approved. Standard home insurance policies will cover 10 percent of this cost, but the rest will usually be out-of-pocket.
Pets are supposed to be man's best friend, but they might be held in such high regard after causing an expensive accident. Home insurance policies generally do not cover damage caused by pets. According to Realtor.com, there are rarely any add-ons to include this coverage in home insurance policies. Some claims regarding damaged windows or doors resulting from a pet may have success, but of course will have to exceed the deductible to be fully covered.
Wild animals, however, present a different story. Mice, as well as squirrels and raccoons, are considered "rodents" and damage incurred by them is not usually covered. Wild animals that are not rodents may be covered in the event they cause damage to your home.
In the end, no two insurance policies are created equal. The best course of action in dealing with insurance claims is to get educated. Ask your insurance agent about what smaller-value claims are covered under your policy to prevent future headaches. Once you are familiar with the minute details of your policy, you will be better prepared to handle issues large and small.