Does homeowners insurance cover theft outside the home?


Homeowners insurance covers theft on and off your property, but there is usually a lower limit for off-premises coverage.

Stephanie Nieves author photo


Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Published September 4, 2020|6 min read

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Homeowners insurance covers theft of your personal belongings — even when that theft occurs outside of your home. If your laptop is stolen from your living room, a cafe, or an airport, you’ll be covered by your homeowners insurance for the loss. However, coverage for items stolen outside your home may have lower limits than coverage for theft that occurs on your property.

Expensive valuables, in general, are subject to sublimits, or a lower maximum amount of coverage for certain kinds of items. These categories generally include things like watercraft, electronics, jewelry, and furs.

If you want to insure expensive items up to their full value, you may be able to raise your payout limits through your insurer or add scheduled personal property coverage to your policy to raise coverage limits for individual items.

Key Takeaways

  • Theft is covered by home insurance, whether it happens in your home or outside of it

  • However there is usually a lower limit for off-premises coverage

  • Certain types of valuables have additional sublimits, meaning your insurer may only reimburse you for a fraction of the item’s total value

  • To raise your coverage limits for certain valuables, you should add scheduled personal property coverage to your homeowners policy

Homeowners insurance and theft outside the home

A homeowners insurance policy is made up of different coverage components that all offer different types of protection. Personal property coverage is what protects your personal belongings when they’re damaged or lost due to any covered peril, including theft.

This coverage typically applies both on and off your property, meaning that if your cell phone is stolen from your living room or from a hotel room, it’s covered either way (but you should still double-check your policy to be sure that it includes off-premises coverage). Coverage for personal property is typically set to 50% of your dwelling coverage limit, so if your home is insured for $350,000, you have $175,000 in personal property coverage to cover your belongings.

However there is typically a lower limit for theft that occurs away from your home. Off-premises coverage is usually capped at 10% of your personal property limit. So someone with $175,000 in personal property coverage would be insured up to $17,500 for items stolen away from their home.

Does homeowners insurance cover theft from a car?

Yes, your homeowners insurance will cover personal items stolen from your car. But it’s important to remember that home insurance never covers your car (that’s what auto insurance is for), and car insurance doesn’t cover your personal belongings.

If your car were stolen with your backpack and laptop inside it, you’d file a car insurance claim for the stolen car and comprehensive coverage would cover the loss of the vehicle, but it won’t cover the items inside. Your homeowners insurance, specifically your personal property coverage, would reimburse you for the personal belongings that were inside the car when it was stolen.

Does homeowners insurance cover theft on vacation?

Yes, your homeowners insurance will likely pay to replace your belongings if your luggage or other valuables are stolen on vacation. If your suitcase is taken at the airport or your laptop is stolen from a hotel room, personal property coverage can reimburse you for your stolen clothing and personal belongings, as well as pay to replace your laptop.

Does homeowners insurance cover theft in a college dorm?

Your homeowners insurance policy typically extends to cover your college kids if they’re living on campus. So if your child’s laptop is stolen from their dorm room, you can file a claim to be reimbursed for their loss. However, if your child’s belongings are stolen from off-campus housing, they may not be covered by your policy and they should have their own renters policy to cover their belongings).

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Homeowners insurance sublimits

Homeowners insurance will reimburse you for stolen belongings, but certain categories of items have lower coverage limits, or sublimits. Below are the most common valuables with special sublimits you can expect to find in a standard policy:

Money$200 (includes coins and medals)
Securities$1,500 (including stamps)
Jewelry$2,500 (when stolen)
Furs$2,500 (when stolen)
Silverware$2,500 (when stolen)
Guns$2,500 (when stolen)
Business property (on premises)$2,500
Business property (off premises)$250

Any sublimits will apply to items that are stolen off-premises as well, like if your laptop is stolen from a cafe or an expensive ring is stolen from your hotel room.But you can ensure you have more coverage for specifics valuable than the sublimits laid out in your policy.

Raising your sublimits

If you want to insure your personal belongings up to their full value, or at least for more than the sublimits in your policy, you can talk to your insurer about increasing your sublimits on certain valuables for an additional premium. You may be able to double your coverage for certain property types, like increase your sublimit of $1,500 to $3,000 for jewelry, or your insurer may recommend a more comprehensive coverage package altogether to raise your payout limits across multiple property types.

Scheduled personal property endorsement

A scheduled personal property endorsement provides higher limits on expensive valuables and protects them against a greater number of risks than a standard home insurance policy. With the standard personal property coverage in your homeowners policy, you may not be sufficiently covered for expensive jewelry, firearms, and furs, but adding a scheduled personal property endorsement for your valuable items can let you individually raise your limits for anything you want to protect.

For example, your policy may have a sublimit of $1,500 for jewelry, but you might own a $5,500 engagement ring that you want to insure. By scheduling it with a personal property endorsement, you can raise the coverage limit of that ring to insure it up to its full value.

Actual cash value vs. replacement cost

When you file a home insurance claim for a stolen item, let’s say a cellphone that was stolen out of your jacket pocket while you were out at a restaurant, you may either be reimbursed up to the cell phones’s actual cash value or replacement cost.

Actual cash value will reimburse you for the cost to replace the cell phone — minus depreciation — meaning that a cell phone that was purchased for $500 may only be worth $400 after a year of use, and will only be insured up to it’s current value. If you’re concerned about theft, either on or off your property, you might want to consider upgrading your personal property coverage to replacement cost in order to cover your most items up to their original price. Replacement cost will ensure you’re paid enough to replace the stolen item with a brand new one.

When will homeowners insurance not cover theft outside the home?

Homeowners insurance generally covers theft on and off your property, but there are some caveats to this coverage. Trailers, campers, and watercraft that are stolen away from your home typically will not be covered, and neither will cars and other vehicles that would be covered by auto insurance or another type of property insurance.

Not every home insurance policy includes off-premises coverage, either, so check with your insurer to see if you’re covered for belongings stolen away from your home (and if so, for how much). Off-premises coverage may also have certain exclusions, like if you travel to certain areas or if your personal belongings are stolen from specific places, so you should double check your policy conditions before you travel with any expensive belongings to make sure you have sufficient coverage.

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