Homeowners insurance provides a safety net and financial relief if your home or property is damaged, provided your policy covers the cause. So what exactly does a standard homeowners policy cover?
An HO-3 policy, the most common type of homeowners coverage, stands for Homeowners Policy Special Form 3. An HO-3 form is the template used by the majority of homeowners insurance policies. This form details what is covered, and what is not. But rather than thumbing through the entire HO-3 form, we’ve detailed some of the highlights.
A standard HO-3 policy typically includes six types of coverage.
Dwelling coverage protects the main structure of your home and attached structures, including a porch and built-in appliances. The typical amount covered for this item is the entire replacement cost.
This covers detached structures on your property, including a shed or detached garage. The typical amount covered for this item is 10% of the dwelling limit.
Personal property coverage pays to replace or repair personal belongings that are stolen or damaged both inside and outside the home. The typical amount covered for this item is roughly 50% of the dwelling limit.
This coverage item helps pay for temporary living situations while repairs are being made on your home. The typical amount covered for this item is 20% of the dwelling limit.
Personal liability coverage pays for medical or legal bills if you’re held liable for injuring someone or causing property damage. The typical amount covered for this item is $100,000 to $500,000.
If someone is injured on your property, this coverage pays to treat them, regardless of who is at fault. The typical amount covered for this item is $1,000 to $5,000.
These are the basic items covered by an HO-3 policy, but be sure you’re also aware of the specific perils that are excluded. If you experience a flood and your home is damaged, your basic HO-3 policy won’t cover the repairs. The same goes for earthquake damage.
Your personal property is only covered for 16 perils named in an HO-3 policy, which include:
Here are some common perils that are EXCLUDED in a typical HO-3 policy:
Wear and tear on items such as electronics or appliances aren’t typically covered in an HO-3 policy, because wear and tear is viewed as preventable through upkeep or routine maintenance. However, if your dishwasher stops working within a few years, you’re likely to have a product warranty for the appliance that will replace it. You can also add extra protection to appliances and other equipment by modifying your insurance policy with the equipment breakdown coverage add-on.
If you’ve experienced a loss that is covered by a HO-3 policy, be sure to give prompt notice to your insurance agent. Failure to timely report a loss may result in forfeiture of coverage. The Duties After Loss section outlined in the HO-3 policy form highlights the need for prompt, open communication with your insurer in order to receive coverage. Time is important when filing a claim, because the later a policy is filed following the loss, the more likely there is to be bias against the insured. If the claim is filed early, witness memories are more likely to be fresh about what occurred, and the insurer may be able to negotiate a less expensive settlement.
However, there can be circumstances beyond the insurer’s control that may lead to a delay in filing a claim. If you’re filing late, check your insurance company’s deadline. If it’s past the time period and you feel you have a right to an extension, detail your situation to your insurance agent, and they may grant one.
If you’ve filed an insurance claim but are experiencing constant delays or are denied, it may be time to consider hiring a public insurance adjuster. Public adjusters are experts in dealing with claim preparation and settlements. Getting through your insurance company’s red tape can be difficult, which is why a public adjuster can be a beneficial partner in the preparation, negotiation and settlement of your insurance claim.
K-Factor will continue to break down homeowners insurance policies in future blog posts. Continue to follow K-Factor’s blog page for additional information and content.
K-Factor Advocates is a public adjusting firm that specializes in insurance claim negotiation, policy language and interpretation, and claims estimating. K-Factor’s team of insurance public adjusters work on behalf of the policyholder. Coverage areas include Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.