Does homeowners insurance cover theft?

Homeowners insurance covers theft of your personal belongings both inside and away from your home, but coverage for expensive valuables like jewelry and collectibles may be limited.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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A standard homeowners insurance policy covers theft of personal belongings inside and outside of your home. So whether your personal possessions are stolen from your house or hotel room, homeowners insurance can help replace your stuff. And if your home is damaged or vandalized during a break-in, your policy can also help you cover any necessary repairs.

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When does homeowners insurance cover theft?

Homeowners insurance covers theft of your personal belongings if they’re stolen from inside or outside of your home. The amount you’re reimbursed to replace stolen personal property will depend on the loss settlement provisions in your home insurance policy.

In addition to burglary inside your home, your personal property coverage will generally cover theft in the following circumstances:

  • The theft occurred away from your home. If you’re on vacation and your luggage is stolen, your insurer can help replace your property. Off-premises coverage is typically capped at 10% of your personal property coverage limit.

  • A guest’s personal property was stolen. If a nonresident’s stuff is stolen from your house, your homeowners insurance may cover their things, too.

  • Your child’s dorm room was broken into. If your kid is away at college and their dorm room is burglarized, that may be covered by your homeowners insurance as well. However, if they move into off-campus housing, your insurance may no longer protect them.

  • Personal property was stolen from your car. Car break-ins are also generally covered by homeowners insurance.

How much does a theft claim cost?

The average national cost of a theft claim was $4,415 between 2016 to 2020, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

When does homeowners insurance NOT cover theft?

A standard homeowners insurance policy may not cover theft in the following instances:

  • Unreported theft. If you don’t file a police report after you’re burglarized or you wait 60+ days after the theft occurred to submit a claim, you may not be reimbursed for your damaged or stolen property.

  • Theft was committed by a named insured. If you’re a named insured and you burglarize someone who lives in the home or you stage a robbery, your insurer will sniff that out quickly and not only deny your claim, but potentially also find you guilty of fraud.

  • Theft occurred while your home was under construction. If your house is under construction or contains materials used for construction and no one is living there, your home may not be covered against theft.

  • Theft occurred while you were living somewhere else full time. If you reside somewhere other than the insured house for more than two months, your insurer may deny your claim if the unoccupied home is burglarized. If you expect to be away from your home for extended periods of time, we recommend looking into vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance.

  • Theft of trailers, campers, or watercraft NOT on your property. Your policy won’t cover theft of trailers, campers, or watercraft, including the equipment itself, motors, and any furnishings inside if the equipment wasn’t on your property when it was stolen.

  • Theft from a rental unit on your property. If you rent out a room in your home and it’s  burglarized , your insurer likely won’t pay to replace their stuff. That’s where their renters insurance policy is for. 

Does homeowners insurance cover damage to your home during a break-in?

Yes, here are two different coverage components that will cover your home after a break-in:

  • Dwelling coverage: Pays to repair structural damage to your home, like if a window or locks are broken during a burglary, up to your dwelling coverage limit. 

  • Other structures coverage: Pays to repair structural damage to other structures on your property, like if someone breaks into your garage, garden shed, or guest house, up to your coverage limit — which is typically set at 10% of your dwelling limit.

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How are home insurance theft claims paid?

How your insurer will reimburse you for a theft loss depends on if your personal property is insured at its actual cash value or its replacement cost.

If your personal property is insured at its actual cash value …

Your reimbursement amount will be calculated based on the depreciated value of the stolen items. That means if your five-year-old laptop is stolen, then five years of deprecation will be factored into your claim payout. 

If your personal property is insured at its replacement cost …

You’ll be reimbursed the value of new items, regardless of the age or condition of the stolen property. 

Most standard policies have actual cash value personal property coverage by default, but you can typically upgrade to replacement cost for an additional cost. If you’re not sure how you’re reimbursed for personal property loss, ask your insurance agent or check your policy declarations page.

Homeowners insurance limitations for theft coverage

Homeowners insurance usually reimburses the full amount of most items up to your personal property coverage limit. But burglars typically don’t take the risk of breaking into your home just to steal your rollerblades — they want the expensive stuff. 

Insurers recognize this and create sublimits that reflect the risk of insuring expensive-to-replace valuables. There are also sublimits on business property and off-premises theft.

Here are the most common valuables with special limits you can expect to see in a standard policy:

Types of property

Limit of liability

Money

$200

Securities

$1,500

Trailers

$1,500

Watercraft

$1,500

Jewelry, watches, furs

$1,500

Silverware

$2,500

Collectible stamps, coins, and medals

Included in above limits

Firearms

$2,500

Business property

$2,500

Off-premises theft

10% your personal property coverage limit

For example, if your $8,000 Rolex watch is stolen from your home, your insurance company will only cover $1,500 of the loss, since that’s the maximum limit of liability for watches. If you own expensive jewelry, you’ll want to add a scheduled personal property endorsement to your policy to increase your coverage limits — which we’ll talk more about below.

Additional homeowners insurance theft coverage to consider

In addition to the primary coverages in your policy, here are three other theft protections you should consider: 

1. Increase your personal property sublimits

You may be able to increase the sublimits on certain valuables, depending on your insurer. So rather than $1,500 in jewelry coverage, you may be able to increase it to $3,000 for an additional premium. If your insurer offers multiple tiers of homeowners policies, they may just recommend their more comprehensive coverage package altogether.

2. Scheduled personal property coverage

Scheduled personal property coverage is an endorsement that provides higher limits on expensive valuables than your standard policy, and it also broadens your policy to cover lost or misplaced items.

3. Identity theft coverage

If you’re a victim of identity theft, this endorsement will help you reverse the fraud, fix your credit score, and get your identity back — but it won’t reimburse you for any monetary losses.

Home insurance theft safety discounts

Many insurers offer safety discounts on your home insurance premiums for fortifying your home with smart home burglary devices and deadbolt locks. 

Below is the national average cost of home insurance and how much you’ll pay if you install a burglar alarm or a deadbolt, according to our analysis of home insurance rates in March 2022 from Quadrant Services. Keep in mind that rates vary by your home’s location, age, size, and more factors.

Average annual cost of homeowners insurance

Average annual cost with a deadbolt

Average annual cost with a burglar alarm

$1,899

$1,897

$1,846

To keep your home secure and potentially get rewarded with more homeowners insurance discounts, consider also installing the following:

  • Motion-sensored lights around your home

  • 24/7 security monitoring around your house

  • Window locks

  • Reinforced glass or window bars

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How to file a homeowners insurance theft claim

If you come home and it’s apparent that someone broke in, here are a few steps to take: 

  • Call the police. Not only is this for your general safety, but your insurer will require a police report before your theft claim is accepted. 

  • Make sure everyone is safe. You’ll want to make sure the coast is clear and that everyone is safe before making any next moves.

  • Contact your insurance agent. Be sure to give your claims representative as much information as possible when filing your claim.

  • Take photos of the damage. Take photo evidence of any damage to the structure of your home and property. 

  • Make temporary repairs. Make any temporary repairs to your home and secure it against further breaking and entering. If your claim is accepted, your insurer will reimburse you for any temporary repairs you made, so keep all of your receipts.

  • Fill out a burglary and theft claim form. This will require everything from your basic information to the date and time the crime occurred to a detailed description of each item you’re claiming a loss on. Make sure you refer to your home inventory when filing your personal property claim — that way you can prove how much each item is worth. 

  • Schedule the claims adjuster. To validate your claim and losses, your insurer may send an insurance adjuster to your home, so be prepared to show them any structural or property-related damage that you reported in your claim. If there was something you missed, you may also be able to use this opportunity to have them survey the unreported losses.

Authors

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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