Homeowners insurance: 10 expenses you might have thought were covered

U.S. News

Homeowners are often unaware of just how vulnerable they are to catastrophe. That’s because homeowners insurance doesn’t cover many unexpected costs, including, in many cases, damage related to earthquakes and flooding.

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Here are 10 expenses that you might have expected insurers to cover.

Flooding. Private insurance rarely covers flooding, so homeowners who want that protection need to get it through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by FEMA. Many homeowners, though, mistakenly think that their insurance policy does cover flood damage.

Earthquakes. Just as with flooding, consumers who want earthquake coverage often need to take out an additional policy for it. Earthquake coverage is usually only an issue in areas that face a high risk of trembles, such along the San Andreas fault.

Deductibles. According to the Consumer Federation of America, deductibles are going up by as much as 2 to 5 percent. That means homeowners shell out more out-of-pocket cash before their insurance coverage kicks in.

Simultaneous events. Because of the technical term known as “anti-concurrent causation,” if two events happen at once, and one of those events, such as flooding, is not covered by insurance, then the policy might not cover damage from either event. That means flooding and wind damage that happen together could end up being very costly for a homeowner.

Post-traumatic emotional support. Homeowners who experience traumatic events, such as fires or floods that completely devastate their homes, often find themselves in need of emotional support along with financial help. Insurance companies do not typically cover this type of service; instead, support groups and online forums can help.

Multiple bids. Insurance companies often recommend specific contractors to handle repairs, but a better strategy for homeowners may be to solicit competing bids, including from contractors not associated with the insurance company.

Lost wages. Filing for coverage after damage, as well as any necessary appeals, can be time-consuming work, and can take away from work time. Insurance doesn’t typically reimburse homeowners for lost wages.

A total rebuild. Most insurance policies have caps, which means they might not cover the cost of completely rebuilding a home after a fire, for example. Most homeowners, though, mistakenly think policies do cover that full cost of rebuilding.

Burst pipes. While insurance policies often cover damage caused by burst pipes, they typically don’t if the burst pipe is caused by homeowner negligence. That includes forgetting to drain pipes or leave the heat on during a winter vacation.

Required upgrades. Even if new laws require updates in undamaged parts of a home, insurance policies usually don’t cover those costs. Homeowners worried about this can take out extra “ordinance or law” coverage.

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