Most people who own property have home insurance. However, many of them do not know exactly what their insurance does and does not cover. Typical home insurance plans cover the same general items but there are atypical plans that provide other coverage. Because of this, it is important to read your policy closely.
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Dwelling Coverage

This is the part of your insurance policy that covers incidents such as hurricanes or fires. It provides for repair or rebuilding of the structure itself after a covered incident. However, dwelling coverage in typical plans does not include floods or earthquakes, two major perils that can devastate a home. Coverage options for these types of incidents are usually available for an additional fee depending on where you live.

Other Structures

Many people have structures besides their house on their property. The most common example is a detached garage but it can also include any detached building such as sheds or in-law units. In most cases the coverage for these structures is 10 percent of the dwelling coverage. This means that a policy for $100,000 dwelling coverage includes $10,000 of damage coverage for other structures on the property. The same criteria for qualified damages apply to other buildings on the property as well as the main dwelling in most cases.

Contents Coverage

The things inside your home have value, too. They are covered to a certain extent by your typical home insurance policy. As well as covering situations that caused damage to the home such as fires and hurricanes, contents coverage typically applies to burglaries and other thefts as well. A typical policy provides 50-70 percent of the dwelling coverage as contents coverage.

2nd story of Victorian home destroyed by act of god

However, contents coverage typically has limits on certain items and does not cover others. For example, the limit on most standard polices for jewelry lost to theft is $1500. If you own a necklace worth $10,000 you might want to take out additional coverage for it.

Homeowners are on the hook to prove that they owned the things they claim after an incident, so it is to your advantage to take a detailed inventory of your belongings. Photographs are helpful, too. Store the inventory and photos somewhere outside of the home. That way, you can retrieve in the event of a fire, hurricane or other covered disaster.

Editor’s Note: For more on recovering from a Disaster as well as being prepared for Emergencies, see our category — Emergency Preparedness.

Loss of Use

When your home is damaged and you cannot live there you typically must pay to live somewhere else. Even if you can live temporarily with relatives or friends, you may end up farther from work and commuting longer hours. Loss of use coverage provides reimbursement, typically up to 20 percent of the dwelling coverage, for things like hotels and restaurant bills.

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Personal Liability

Home insurance provides some coverage for family members against lawsuits. This protection might be needed if your dog bites someone or a guest slips because you didn’t clear the walkway of ice. Usually there is a minimum of $100,000 of personal liability coverage included with any home insurance policy. Additional coverage is often attractive to people who have increased liability risks, such as a swimming pool on the property.

Medical Payments

If a person is injured on your property and decides not to sue, they can still be entitled to medical payments from your insurance. Typically, $1000 of coverage per injured party is included in a home insurance policy. These payments go to people who could sue you but decide not to and provide for their medical care relating to the injury in question.


Roy McClure writes homeownership guides such as “Why ‘Infestation’ is a Matter of Perspective” and “A Tilting Foundation is a Strong Foundation.” He also occasionally writes on topics of interest to home insurance professionals.

For more information on this topic, you might see this article from All State titled also – What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?  Cheers. ~jb, Editor @ BuildingMoxie.com.

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