Common home insurance exclusions

A standard homeowners insurance policy contains exclusions, or causes of loss that aren’t covered. Policy exclusions include earthquakes, flooding, or property that is damaged due to poor maintenance.

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By

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 December 3, 2020|3 min read

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Homeowners insurance covers your home’s structure, additional structures on your property, and your personal belongings in the event they are damaged by a covered peril. But certain perils, such as earthquakes, flooding, pest infestations, and general wear and tear are not covered by homeowners insurance.

To protect your home against hazards like flooding and earthquakes, you’ll need separate flood and earthquake insurance. Insurance companies also offer coverage add-ons, or endorsements, that can expand the coverage in your policy.

Key Takeaways

  • Standard home insurance policies won’t cover earthquakes, flooding, or maintenance issues such as regular wear and tear

  • Certain exclusions, like water damage or mold, might be covered if they’re caused by a covered hazard in your policy

  • Your insurer may offer policy add-ons, like water backup or equipment breakdown coverage that expand the coverage in your policy to certain excluded perils

What does homeowners insurance not cover?

The following types of loss are not covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy:

  • Ordinance or law

  • Earth movement

  • Water damage

  • Power failure

  • Neglect

  • War

  • Nuclear hazard

  • Intentional loss

  • Government action

Common home insurance exclusions: explained

Ordinance or law

Ordinance or law refers to any repairs that need to be made to bring your home up to current building codes after a covered loss. Most home insurance policies will pay to repair damage to your home and other structures on your property up to their replacement cost. But any upgrades that need to be made beyond those costs in order to meet your current building codes would not be covered.

Earth movement

Homeowners insurance typically excludes damage caused by “earth movement”, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, subsidence, landslides, and mudflows.

Water damage

Water damage caused by natural flooding, sewer and sump pump backups, or water that seeps up from the ground are not covered by homeowners insurance.

Power failure

Homeowners insurance won’t cover damage that is caused by a power outage, so appliances that go kaput after losing power would not be covered. Service lines that are damaged by power failure would also not be covered.

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Neglect

A standard home insurance policy won’t cover damage related to the upkeep of your home, including wear and tear, pest infestations, and other maintenance issues.

For example, property damage that happens over time, like a roof leak, is typically not covered by homeowners insurance. But if the cause of the leak is a covered peril, such as a lightning strike, you may be reimbursed for the loss.

War

Homeowners insurance will not cover any type of war, nor will it cover the discharge of a nuclear weapon under any circumstance.

Nuclear hazard

Any act that poses a risk to the environment, other people, or the facility where it occurred would not be covered.

Intentional loss

Damage that is caused intentionally would not be covered by homeowners insurance. For example, if you graffiti your living room as part of an art exhibit, homeowners insurance will not pay to restore your living room back to its original condition.

Government action

If a governmental or public authority destroys your home, a structure on your property, or a personal belonging, homeowners insurance will not cover the damage.

Dog bite liability for certain breeds

Although homeowners insurance typically covers dog bite liability expenses, dogs with a history of biting and certain breeds may be excluded from coverage. If you own a Rottweiler, German Shepherd, pit bull, or chow chow, you may have a hard time finding a home insurance policy that will extend liability coverage to your pup.

Home-based business liability

Homeowners insurance does not extend liability coverage to home-based businesses, like a daycare. Standard homeowners insurance also has limited coverage for business property (around $2,500). A standard HO-3 policy — the most common type of homeowners insurance — generally won’t cover structures where your business operates. Any trees, plants, or shrubs grown for profit would also not be covered.

Pest damage and removal

Homeowners insurance generally does not cover pest damage and removal. Termite damage, rodent infestations, and bed bug or bat removal are categorized as a maintenance issue and are not covered by homeowners insurance.

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