My Homeowners Insurance Didn't Cover My Busted Air Conditioner. Here's Why
- Homeowners insurance will generally cover property damage.
- But it won't cover general wear and tear.
Homeowners policies don't cover everything.
The summer of 2021 was a tough one for me financially. The reason? My home's central air conditioning system died on me in the middle of a heatwave.
Actually, to be more specific, it died at the beginning of a week-long heatwave. And once that happened, my husband and I were stuck. We couldn't shop around with different companies for a replacement unit, but rather had to go with a company that could get the job done quickly. For us, that meant forking over almost $7,000 on the spot.
Thankfully, we had that money in our savings account, so that replacement unit didn't force us into debt. Also, while we didn't have much time to research options for replacing our air conditioner, we went with the company that did our heating and cooling maintenance. We figured they'd be less likely to take advantage of us because we were paying customers already.
It turns out, we were right. We did some research after the fact and learned that the price we paid was reasonable, albeit hefty. But still, that scenario put a wrench in some of our financial plans and forced us to make certain changes to account for that large expense.
And the frustrating thing? Our homeowners insurance company in no way picked up that tab. Here's why.
Wear and tear isn't covered by insurance
At the time my air conditioner died, the unit itself was over 10 years old. Now some air conditioning systems can and will last longer than that. But basically, ours died as a result of old age and wear and tear.
Technically, the unit could've been fixed. But due to the cost of the repair and the age of our system, a repair wasn't worth it. But our homeowners insurance policy would not have covered the cost of a repair or a replacement either way.
When you have homeowners insurance, you're covered in the event of property damage. Had a storm hit and taken our air conditioning system out, our insurance would've likely kicked in. But that's not what happened. In our case, it was a classic case of wear and tear, and homeowners insurance won't cover that because it's not actual damage.
The various appliances you have in your home aren't meant to last forever, as nice as that would be. And so when you have a situation where your washing machine breaks or your fridge gives out on you due to normal, expected wear and tear, it's on you to cover the cost of a repair or replacement. And that's an important thing to be aware of.
Be prepared for things homeowners insurance won’t cover
Because homeowners insurance won't cover wear and tear situations, it's important to have a solid emergency fund. That way, you'll have cash reserves to tap if things in your home break unexpectedly.
In our case, our emergency fund saved us from debt last summer. And while we had to work hard to replenish the money we withdrew, it was better than landing in debt and accruing interest that would only add to our costs and maximize our aggravation.
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