13 Surprising Things Your Homeowners Insurance Doesn't Cover

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  • If you live in an area prone to certain types of natural disasters -- including floods, sinkholes, and earthquakes -- chances are good you'll need supplemental coverage for these events.
  • Any damage caused by lack of maintenance, or simply the perils of time, typically won't be covered by homeowners insurance.
  • Home business inventory, expensive jewelry, and even certain pets may not be included in your regular insurance coverage.

Some policies exclude more than they cover…

Your home is likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. So it's important that you protect your purchase with reliable homeowners insurance. But even the best homeowners insurance has its limits -- and more affordable policies have even tighter limits.

There are actually a lot of common household problems that your insurance won't cover, including many types of natural disasters that you simply can't prevent. Some of these gaps can be filled in my supplemental policies. Other things, well, you'll just have to plan for them as best you can.

Here are some of the more notable things your typical homeowners insurance policy won't cover.

1. Sinkholes

Sinkholes are perhaps one of the most terrifying things on this list: The ground quite literally just swallows up your house. Unfortunately, if this happens and you don't have a supplemental sinkhole policy, your homeowners insurance may not actually cover much -- or even most -- of the damage. If you live in sinkhole-prone areas (including states such as Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania), consider getting a sinkhole rider for your policy.

2. Floods

Whether your regular homeowners insurance covers flood damage will depend on the nature of the flood. Did you have a pipe burst? The water damage may be covered. A local river overflowed its banks and water wound up in your basement? That's probably not covered. Homeowners at risk of flooding should look into supplemental flood insurance.

3. Wear and tear

Everything wears down eventually. But if that wear and tear causes damage to your home, it may not be covered by your policy. For example, if your roof was damaged by a covered event, such as a tree falling on it during a storm, you're probably covered. But if you need a new roof because yours has simply reached the end of its lifespan -- well, that's on you, friend.

4. Home businesses

Home insurance policies tend to have caps on how much of your home business is covered. A computer and webcam? That's probably fine. But if you keep a lot of inventory for your home businesses in your house, you'll likely need extra insurance specifically for home businesses.

5. Sewer backups

A backed up sewer pipe isn't just gross -- it can also be expensive, since many homeowners policies won't cover it. Even flood insurance riders won't include it, either. You'll need a specific addendum for sewer backups to get coverage for this type of event.

6. Landslides

Who doesn't love a beautiful mountain view? But if you're close enough to that mountain to be at risk for landslides, you may want to check your insurance policy. Many homeowners insurance policies require a separate rider for landslides or they won't cover the damage.

7. Earthquakes

As with other natural disasters on our list, earthquake damage usually requires a separate rider to be covered under your insurance policy. Typical earthquakes occur along fault lines -- places where two tectonic plates meet -- but due to dangerous mining practices, including fracking, more states are at risk. Some of the most earthquake prone states include: Oklahoma, Alaska, California, Texas, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Oregon.

8. Certain pets

If your American shorthair cat or Labrador retriever gets out of hand, your homeowners liability coverage will usually pay out for the damages. But if you have an "aggressive" dog breed or certain exotic pets, you may be on the hook yourself. If your furry (or feathered, or scaled) friend isn't covered by your regular insurance policy, you may need to look into supplemental pet liability insurance or exotic animal insurance.

9. Expensive jewelry

Every insurance policy has a cap on how much they'll cover when it comes to pricey possessions. Once your jewelry gets into the mid-to-high four figures, you're probably over that cap. Check your policy limits and consider supplemental insurance if you have expensive jewelry at home.

10. Appliances

Although many appliances are absolutely necessary for your home to be a home, they're not typically considered part of the home by your insurer. Everything from the HVAC system to the stove are your responsibility unless you have supplemental insurance that specifically covers appliances.

11. Termites

Few folks like bugs in their home, but there's one insect that has even the sturdiest homeowner shaking in their boots: termites. They not only live in your house -- they also eat it. And your insurance policy probably won't cover the damage.

12. Renovation disasters

We've all heard the renovation horror stories of bad contractors and disasters left behind. But as with most of the disasters on this list, your homeowners insurance will be of little help if your renovation goes wrong. And the contractor's own insurance may be limited to the new construction -- not your existing structure. Consider a separate renovation policy if you're having extensive work done.

13. Acts of war

If push comes to shove and the U.S. finds itself in a war, your homeowners insurance won't be of much use no matter who wins. Most policies have specific clauses that exclude damage from acts of war.

Save and supplement

These common exclusions are a good reminder that every homeowner should have a savings account set aside for home repairs. And if you are at risk for any of the issues on this list, it's also a good idea to look for supplemental policies to fill any gaps in your coverage.

Our picks for best homeowners insurance companies

There are many homeowners insurance companies to choose from. We’ve researched dozens of options and short-listed our favorites here. Looking for a green build discount or easy bundle policies? Want an easy-to-use interface? Read our free expert review and get a quote today.

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