How to Get Around Common Home Insurance Exclusions
Has your home insurance company denied your claim because of an exclusion?
Every day, homeowners get surprised by exclusions – and many are forced to pay thousands of dollars in surprise costs out of pocket as a result.
Fortunately, there are ways to get around exclusions, reverse a denied insurance claim, and fight back against greedy insurance companies.
Keep reading to discover the most common home exclusions – and how to avoid becoming a victim to those exclusions.
Action to Take Before a Claim
You can avoid many common home insurance exclusions by taking action before a claim.
You can adjust coverage, stay up-to-date on maintenance, and add endorsements to your policy, for example, to avoid being surprised by exclusions.
Actions to take before a claim include:
Review Your Coverage Today from Front to Back
Two out of three homeowners are underinsured. They don’t carry enough insurance for their property.
Many homeowners are underinsured because they don’t have the right coverage. They might live in a flood-prone area, for example, but they don’t have flood insurance.
The best way to get around common home insurance exclusions is to review your policy from front to back to understand what’s covered – and what isn’t covered.
If your policy clearly lists an exclusion and you failed to notice that exclusion, then it can be difficult to reverse an insurance claim decision. By understanding your policy today, you can avoid being underinsured.
A disaster can occur at any time. Don’t wait to review your coverage. Review it today to ensure you understand everything. Policies are written in a way that most home or business owners are not sure what is really covered and what is not covered. It is always best to reach out to a Public Adjuster when you get your policy and have them do a policy review for you. Public Adjusters read policies every day and they know what to look for in your policy and can tell you what might be missing.
Buy Extra Flood Coverage, Earthquake Coverage, or Wind Coverage, If Necessary
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood damage or earthquake damage. Depending on your location, your homeowners insurance policy may not even cover windstorm damage.
Many homeowners don’t realize these major exclusions until it’s too late. Your home could be destroyed by a flood, for example, and leave you with no compensation because you didn’t have flood damage.
Damages to consider adding include:
- Add flood coverage if you’re in a flood-prone area. A standard homeowners insurance policy does not include any type of flood protection. If you live in a flood zone, then your lender requires flood insurance as part of your loan agreement. If you don’t live in a flood zone, then flood insurance is optional, but it could help you protect your home. You can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program or through private insurers. Unfortunately, many floods are taking place in areas that are not in a standard flood zone, leaving homes and businesses vulnerable. The cost for flood insurance is very low if you don’t live in a flood zone and it is always worth the cost. It only takes about 1” of water in your home to cause catastrophic damage.
- Add earthquake damage to protect against earthquake and mudslide damage. A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover damage related to moving earth – including mudslides, landslides, earthquakes, and similar events. If you’re concerned about earthquakes or mudslides in your area – say, if you live in the desert or in an earthquake-prone state like California – then consider buying earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) or a private insurer.
- Add wind damage if you live in a wind-prone area. Many parts of the Gulf Coast, Atlantic Coast, and southeastern United States are prone to hurricanes, and insurers may exclude wind damage in these areas. Consider adding wind damage to your policy for added protection.
Watch for Signs of Leaky Pipes
Home insurance covers burst pipes. However, it doesn’t cover slow, leaking pipes over a long period of time. Some policies even state that if the leak has gone on for over 7 days, you are no longer covered. Some policies don’t cover leaks around a bathtub or shower. It is important to know what is and isn’t covered.
As a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintenance. If you fail to maintain your property, then insurance won’t cover the resulting damage.
If you ignore a leaking pipe for months, and that pipe causes mold damage behind your walls, then home insurance could deny your mold damage insurance claim.
Signs of leaky pipes include:
- Dripping noises around your home or behind your walls
- Discoloration on the ceiling or walls
- Unusually high water bills
- A water meter that runs even when all water is turned off in the home
- Low water pressure
- Bad smells or unusual odors from pipes and appliances
Stay Up-to-Date on Home Maintenance
As a homeowner, you’re obligated to maintain your property in good condition. If you fail to maintain your property, then your home insurance claim could be denied.
Stay up-to-date on home maintenance to avoid problems with future claims. Check for roof damage, take action against damage as it occurs, and practice good home maintenance habits.
If there’s pre-existing damage to your property, your home insurance company can and will deny your claim.
Add Endorsements to Your Policy for High-Value Items
A standard homeowners insurance policy only covers personal property in your home up to a certain maximum value – say, $1,000 to $2,000. If you want coverage for items beyond that amount, then you need to add an endorsement.
Let’s say a fire burns down your home. It destroys your new $1,500 TV and your $15,000 engagement ring. If your homeowners insurance policy has a maximum per-item limit of $1,500, then you would receive $1,500 for the TV and $1,500 for the engagement ring.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Add endorsements to your homeowners insurance policy to avoid future insurance headaches. For a few extra dollars per month, you can get adequate coverage for all items in your home.
It is also important to document what is in your home. Taking photos or videos of each room and then model and serial numbers of any electronics is always recommended. You could leave right before a hurricane and come home to a slab of concrete. Proving what you had becomes very hard after a fire or big storm. Document your items and store them in a separate location for future reference.
Actions to Take After a Claim
If you’re already dealing with a claim and a homeowners insurance company is excluding damage from that claim, then there are still steps you can take to get around this exclusion.
In fact, getting around an exclusion could overturn a denied claim and significantly increase your payout.
Here are some of the actions to take to get around an exclusion after making a claim:
Present Supporting Evidence Like Photos & Videos
You can use evidence to prove the damage occurred as a result of a covered peril instead of an exclusion.
You might have photos and videos of your roof before a windstorm, for example, proving it was adequately maintained and in perfect condition.
Or, you might have videos of water pouring into the first floor of your home during a storm, proving the water damage occurred because of rain damage (which is covered) and not flood damage (which is not covered).
Check your security camera footage, neighbors’ security camera footage, any photos or videos taken after the incident, and other supporting evidence to see if you can prove the insurer wrong.
Hire a Public Adjuster to Take Over Your Claim and Increase Your Payout
A public adjuster represents your side of the claim, negotiating with your insurer on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation.
Insurance companies aren’t charities; they’re for-profit businesses. They use any exclusion possible to reduce or deny your claim.
Unfortunately, homeowners are often unaware of the tactics insurers use. They don’t know how to fight back.
Public adjusters are aware of these tactics and do know how to fight back against insurers. Public adjusters represent your side of the claim and your best interests. They know the tactics insurers use to reduce claims – and they also know how to negate these tactics.
Public adjusters could hire an engineer to prove your property damage occurred because of a covered peril, for example, instead of an excluded type of damage.
Public adjusters typically work on contingency, which means you pay nothing upfront, and you only pay once you reach a final settlement with your insurer.
Dealing with Home Insurance Claim Exclusions
There are plenty of legitimate home insurance exclusions insurers use to deny your claim.
However, many insurers also deny claims without good reason. Insurers aren’t charities; they’re for-profit businesses. They want to pay as little for your claim as legally possible, and exclusions allow them to do that.
Fortunately, you can fight back by understanding your policy and adjusting it before a claim – or by hiring a public adjuster after your claim to increase your payout and overturn a denial.