While a standard homeowners insurance policy covers your home and personal belongings from most types of damage, there are also several common disasters and liabilities that are not covered. Damage or loss due to flooding, earthquakes, and pest infestations are just a few of the 13 policy exclusions not covered by homeowners insurance.
However, depending on your insurer and policy type, you may be able to add coverage to your home insurance to cover some of the areas not protected under your policy, such as sewer backups or home business liability.
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What does homeowners insurance not cover?
The following perils are found under the exclusions section of every standard homeowners insurance policy. This means if your house or another structure on your property is damaged due to any of the following, your home insurance company won't cover the cost of repairs.
Homeowners insurance does not cover water damage caused by natural flooding, rain, sewer line or sump pump backups, or water that seeps up from the ground and damages your home’s foundation.
However, water damage from burst pipes or a defunct water heater would be covered. Likewise, if a house fire or explosion is directly caused by any excluded types of water damage, you would likely be covered for repairs.
Ground movement refers to damage caused by earthquakes, land shock waves or tremors both before and after volcanic eruptions, landslides, mudslides, mudflow, subsidence, sinkholes, and any other sinking in or shifting of the earth.
This exclusion does not apply to fire or explosion damage caused by an earth movement. It also doesn’t apply to theft loss after an earthquake. So if a burglar waltzes into a cracked section of your house after a quake and takes your stuff, insurance could pay to replace it.
If a termite infestation causes a section of your house to collapse, that would likely be covered under the “collapse” portion of your policy’s additional coverage section. But if you just want to remove an infestation from your house, you’ll likely have to pay for that yourself.
Mold or wet rot
Whether your homeowners insurance covers mold damage is a bit tricky since it all depends on the root cause of the mold problem. In general, mold that's caused by long-term leaking, poor home maintenance, or naturally occurring flooding, then your homeowners insurance likely won't cover it.
However, if the mold is caused by a sudden and unexpected problem — like a leak in your plumbing that crops up out of nowhere — then your insurance company might cover the mold damage if you reach out immediately.
Certain dog breeds
Although homeowners insurance typically covers medical and legal expenses from dog bites, dogs with a history of biting and certain dog breeds may be excluded from your policy’s liability coverage. However, there are several dog friendly insurance companies that will gladly insure your good boy.
Wear and tear or neglect
In homeowners insurance, this refers to your neglect to use any foreseeable means necessary to prevent your property from being damaged. In other words, wear and tear, obvious and preventable leaks, and routine maintenance issues are generally not covered under homeowners insurance.
Take, for example, a kitchen sink pipe that leaks over a course of weeks or months and causes wood rot in your kitchen fixtures and floorboards. In the event of a claim, your insurer would likely be able to cite the neglect exclusion to deny it.
However, if a plumbing malfunction causes a leak and residual mold growth inside your walls, your insurer would likely not be able to prove that neglect led to the loss and you may be covered for the damage.
Power surges caused by your utility company
Your policy won’t cover power surge damage or outages caused by your utility company or anything that originates off of your property. However, if the cause of the power failure takes place on your property, like a short-circuit which causes a fire, that would be covered.
Home-based business liability
Homeowners insurance does not extend personal liability coverage to home businesses, like a home daycare or pet boarding operation. Policies also have limited coverage for business property (around $2,500). Additionally, trees, plants, or shrubs grown for profit would also not be covered. Whether cannabis is covered by your home insurance policy varies greatly depending on the policy, insurance company, and your state of residence.
Local building ordinance or law
This refers to any damage or loss that results from enforcement of a local building ordinance or law required to bring your home up to code. This includes construction, repair, remodeling, renovation, or demolition of a building that hasn’t incurred a covered loss.
Home insurance does not cover any intentional damage or loss caused by you or any resident family member. That means if your angsty teenager spray paints your house, insurance won’t pay to return the home to its less-cool color.
Same goes for if you or a family member causes intentional damage or injury to someone else. The personal liability section of your policy covers legal and medical expenses due to accidental property damage or injury, but not if you mean to do it.
This exclusion refers to any nuclear reaction, radiation, or radioactive contamination — whether intentional or not. However, fire damage resulting from the nuclear hazard would be covered.
Damage caused by any type of war, including declared and undeclared war, civil war, nuclear war, or a fascist insurrection on the nation’s capital, isn’t covered by your home insurance policy
If a governmental or public authority damages or destroys your house or your belongings, homeowners insurance will not pay to replace it.
What is an insurance exclusion?
Home insurance exclusions are specific types of damage or loss that your homeowners insurance won’t cover. In other words, if your house is damaged or destroyed by something listed in the exclusions section of your policy, your home insurance won't cover the cost of repairs.
There are two main coverage types in homeowners insurance that detail what types of perils you are and aren’t covered against.
4 optional coverages to add to your home insurance policy
While home insurance exclusions may seem set in stone, insurance companies often offer coverage add-ons, or endorsements, that essentially extend your coverage to losses that aren’t normally covered.
For certain exclusions, like intentional loss and neglect, you’ll likely need to stomach the loss — there isn’t an endorsement in the world that will pay for intentional or maintenance-related losses.
But if you’re looking for additional protection for earthquakes or water damage, you may be in luck.
Water backup coverage: Sewer line and sump pump backups are generally excluded from standard policies, but water backup coverage basically extends your policy to cover damage caused by sewage backups and overflows. If your sewer line or sump pump backs up and floods your basement, water backup coverage can help cover the cost of cleanup and repairs.
Mold damage rider: Mold damage is generally covered under a standard policy if it's caused by a sudden and unexpected accident, like a burst pipe or appliance malfunction. You may also be covered if the mold was caused by a leaking pipe hidden away in your walls or beneath your floors. But you’re typically only covered up to a limited amount — like $1,000. A mold damage rider increases this limit to between $10,000 and $50,000, and also typically covers more causes of mold growth, like wet or dry rot that gradually forms over an extended period of time.
Earthquake coverage: This endorsement extends your home insurance coverage to certain types of damage under the “earth movement” exclusion, including earthquakes, tremors, and shock waves. Alternatively, you could also take out a separate earthquake insurance policy to ensure you’re fully protected.
Flood insurance: While most providers don’t have the option of adding flood coverage to your homeowners insurance, most offer separate flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.