Insurance is, at its core, a betting man’s game. As an insurer, you’re basically placing a bet on the fact that whatever you’re insuring won’t be lost in a catastrophic accident. The odds are in your favor, of course. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be willing to make the bet. And it can involve almost anything: a person’s health, a car, a home, and sometimes even pets.
But if you’re the one who’s looking to get insured, it’s a different ballgame. In the case of homeowner’s insurance, you want to get your house and property covered. Home repairs can be insanely expensive, and you don’t want to be on the hook if something catastrophic happens. So you purchase a policy, and get on with life.
That policy might not come through for you. It might be because of the specific damage or items involved or what caused the damage. There are many things a standard homeowners insurance policy simply won’t cover — at least not entirely.
To find out what, exactly, those things might be, we turned to Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com. Adams worked with The Cheat Sheet to compile a list of items not entirely covered by most insurance policies. (In some cases, there is partial coverage.) And we looked at the circumstances (a natural disaster, for example) under which an insurance company can refuse to pay up.
So even if you have a policy, you might end up getting screwed if the chips don’t fall in your favor. Here are 15 cases where that might happen.
Have you turned your home into a weapons cache? Your home insurance provider might not be willing to cover your guns if anything happens to them, according to InsuranceQuotes.com. Some insurers will typically give partial coverage to firearms, but you’ll have to be familiar with your individual policy. Guns are expensive, and you’ll want to make sure you’re covered to some degree.
Next: You probably need extra coverage if you’re storing a lot of the next item.
Another common household item that’s typically worth quite a bit of money is jewelry. InsuranceQuotes.com lumps jewelry with “precious stones.” Like firearms, this is a category that is typically covered by many insurance policies to a degree — but only to a degree. Again, you’ll have to refer to your specific agreement and insurance company to see where gaps in coverage exist.
Next: What one person considers “art,” another person considers garbage.
This is one of those incredibly tricky categories to traverse. What one person considers “art,” another person considers garbage — but we’re not here to argue subjectivity. The point is the paintings you love might not be covered by your policy. Often, you’ll need to insure high-value pieces of art, no matter what the medium, separately. And be sure to get your items appraised.
Next: What if you’re acting a bit like Walter White?
Say you have cash hidden throughout your home in a sort of Walter White-like scheme. It might be in your vents. It might be under your mattress or even in the freezer. No matter where it is, don’t expect your insurance policy to cover it in the event of it being destroyed. The typical policy will cover a couple hundred dollars in cash. Past that? You’re on your own.
Next: Your smartphone might not be covered.
This is probably one of the most surprising categories on the list. Electronics — a big category, of course — might not be included in your homeowners insurance policy. There are a lot of potential things to throw in this basket, including TVs, video game consoles, computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. You’ll have to check your policy to see whether they’re covered. Otherwise, you might want to insure them separately.
We could have included this under the umbrella of “jewelry,” but we’re going to give watches their own entry. Watches vary wildly in value, and as such, losing a high-end watch can be a big blow. If you look into it further, you’ll find most policies will have at least some coverage for valuables, such as watches. But you’ll need to look up to what degree you’re covered.
7. Business property
InsuranceQuotes.com included “business property” on its list, but what exactly does that mean? It’s pretty much what you think. If you work from home, the equipment and items associated with it probably aren’t covered. You’ll need to get a separate policy for your business, and some companies offer in-home business policies or commercial packages.
8. Terrorist attacks
The odds of your home being destroyed or damaged by a terrorist attack in the average American city are infinitesimal. But it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility, depending on where you live. If it does happen, though, your insurance company probably won’t be willing to cover your losses. You can try to get supplemental terrorism coverage, but for most people, it’s not worth it.
9. Nuclear accidents
From one kind of frightening event to another — in this case, it’s a nuclear accident. We’re generally referring to damage to your home from trouble at a nuclear power plant, as a nuclear bomb exploding nearby would probably leave you with bigger problems. A homeowners policy won’t cover you in the event of a nuclear disaster. But the good news is nuclear power plants are obligated to carry liability insurance to protect nearby property.
A flood isn’t as frightening as a terrorist attack or nuclear accident, but it can be just as destructive. If you live near a river or lake that is prone to flooding, you’re probably well aware you’re going to need supplemental coverage for your home. Although it seems a bit counterintuitive, this is something many people don’t understand until it’s too late.
Much like flooding, earthquakes aren’t covered by your standard insurance policy either. So if you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes (or becoming prone to them, such as Oklahoma), you might want to find an earthquake insurance salesperson stat. There are several things you’ll need to know before purchasing a policy. But just be aware your run-of-the-mill homeowners policy won’t help in the event of an earthquake.
Earthquakes and sinkholes are similar. They both involve the Earth swallowing up things. And they’re both scary as hell. Also, neither are included in most insurance policies. You should know sinkholes can and do open up at random, sometimes destroying whole buildings and killing the inhabitants. If you’re worried about sinkholes, do some research, and find out how to supplement your coverage.
13. Trampoline and pool accidents
A trampoline or a pool might make your house the place to be, but they also bring with them an inherent element of danger. People can get hurt and even killed using either one, and it might expose you to liability claims. You can get a policy that protects you, but it’s going to cost more. And while we’re at it, let’s throw in a few other toys that will inflate your bill: hot tubs, treehouses, and skateboard ramps.
Mold isn’t fun to deal with. If you live in a wet or humid climate, your chances of dealing with a mold infestation rise dramatically. And it’s probably not covered by your insurance policy. But there are some caveats. Depending on what is causing the mold, you might be able to get some help. But don’t expect your standard policy to cover the cleanup costs.
15. Certain dog breeds
We’ve previously covered this in another post, but it’s worth bringing up again. Many insurance companies are wary of certain dog breeds and won’t cover liability under a homeowners policy. It depends on your policy, but some dogs — including Rottweilers, pit bulls, and German shepherds — populate the list. Know that before getting a dog or purchasing a policy.