If you have the right Homeowners Insurance policy, you will find that most claims are going to be paid. Especially the newer updated policies. Claim reps are taught to pay claims. When I was a claim rep at Travelers, Rule number one was “We are here to find coverage”.
We weren’t claim reps. We were coverage finders! Unfortunately sometimes coverage is just not there and a claim must be denied.
Now that I’m an agent my job is to find coverage BEFORE you have a claim.
There are many reasons that a claim will be denied. Most of the causes of a denial will never happen. For example did you know there is no coverage on the policy for damage caused by a landslide? Although we have seen several landslides lately they are still very rare.
I found the four most common exclusions and listed them below.
- Wear and Tear
It’s an insurance policy, not a maintenance policy. Say you have a 20-year roof that is 25 years old. You start to notice shingles that have cracked and are falling on your lawn. The policy will not cover your roof. Same idea with siding that’s falling apart or an old carpet. The policy covers sudden and accidental occurrences, not materials that are deteriorating. Call your agent to make sure your policy will cover any ensuing water damage that occurs as a result of your old roof or siding.
- Settling and Cracking of pavements, foundations, walls, etc.
My house was built in the Seventies. Guess what is happening to some of the interior walls? Cracking! On some older houses you can see cracks on the exterior brick or stucco. The policy will not provide coverage for this type of damage. It’s basically the same idea as the Wear and Tear exclusion.
The policy does not cover damage caused by Birds, vermin, rodents, insects. In addition, there is no coverage for damage caused by animals owned by the Insured (YOU). So if you have termites that cause damage to the wood in your attic, it’s on you. If your cat goes to the bathroom and destroys your carpet-on you. Bats? Good luck. Make frequent checks to make sure there are no insects around. Don’t ignore bizarre unexplained sounds in your attic.
- Surface Water that enters your house
This is not water that enters your house through the roof or walls or even a window. You should be OK in those cases. This is water that enters at ground level or in your basement. There is an endorsement that will provide coverage for water that backs up from a sump pump or a drain. Call your agent TODAY to make sure you have that endorsement.
As far as I know you will not be able to find an endorsement that provides coverage for surface water. Landscapers can often build up the area around your house so water is re-directed away from your exterior walls. Also, always check that your downspouts and gutters are functioning properly.
I don’t know everything about insurance. So ask your agent to verify everything I just wrote. And I would still recommend that you discuss a potential claim even if you do have damage caused by one of the things I mentioned. Remember, a claim rep’s job is to find coverage. But be smart and prepare your house and limit the possibilities of the above causes of damage.