Thousands of people purchase home insurance policies every year to protect their homes and personal belongings from unpredictable damages. However, many don’t realize that a majority of home insurance policies actually exclude a lot of scenarios such as floods or sinkholes. Below are 5 surprising things that usually aren’t included in home insurance policies and the reasons behind the exclusions.
1 – Flooding
Only certain areas are prone to water-related disasters, mostly due to the differing geography and climates found throughout the country. This means that only certain homes will truly benefit from flooding coverage, so people have to purchase a separate flood insurance policy if they don’t live in high-risk areas.
However, even homes that aren’t in risk-prone areas can suffer from flooding. The climate can change quickly and unpredictably, which can result in severe rainfall and flash floods hitting areas that don’t typically have insurance against water damage. This would leave many people with expensive repairs and no insurance money to cover them.
2 – Sinkholes
Sinkhole coverage is only common in areas with seismic or mining activity, and usually has quite strict criteria – the sinkhole must be abrupt, clearly visible to the naked eye, there needs to be evident structural damage to the building and its foundations, and the building needs to be considered condemned, among other requirements.
Homes that aren’t necessarily in high-risk areas can still be affected by sinkholes as not all seismic or mining activity is recorded. Furthermore, sinkhole insurance coverage is often so specific that some homeowners may simply not qualify for an insurance pay-out even if they seemingly have the right kind of policy.
3 – Rodent Damage
Most of the time, insurance companies will consider rodent damage as negligence and poor property maintenance, meaning that their homeowners insurance policy won’t cover that sort of damage. This is because rodent infestations usually don’t cause immediate damage like a flood or a fire would – the damage is gradual, so companies argue that the homeowner could have prevented it from getting worse or even happening in the first place.
There are some scenarios that can be covered by home insurance. For example, if a rat bites through some wiring and causes a fire, the fire damage will be covered by most policies. However, it can be difficult to get a claim like that approved, as it cannot be definitively proven if someone was aware of the infestation or not.
4 – Oil Spills
Oil spills and other, similar accidents can sometimes be excluded from home insurance policies as they are considered polluting, especially if the oil tanks or pipelines are located outside of the building itself. Also if the policy does cover oil spills, it’s usually only limited to any physical loss or damage caused by the spill and not any environmental clean-up that may be needed afterward.
This means that, for example, if an oil spill seeps into the soil surrounding the property and makes it infertile, most policies won’t actually qualify that as damage and therefore the homeowners won’t receive any insurance money. This can be especially frustrating for farmland owners, where oil tanks are regularly used to fuel machinery.
5 – Animal Liability
Similarly to rodent damage, many homeowner insurance policies will exclude animal liability as they consider any damage caused to be a result of negligence. They argue that animal owners should be capable of training their pets to not destroy their properties or cause bodily harm, and that it is therefore their own responsibility to prevent and repair any damages, and cover medical costs
In many areas, these exclusions may only apply to certain dog breeds like Pit Bulls or Bull Terriers, as they’re considered to be more aggressive breeds. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that even the best behaved animal can sometimes destroy something accidentally or attack someone out of fear.