By: Michael B. Murphy, QC, Senior Partner
Everybody believes that their home policy covers them from all sorts of things. In fact, the average policy is about 12 pages long and 10 pages are definitions of exclusions from coverage. Then there are “exclusions to the exclusions” which mean “coverage.” The insurance policy on your home outlines, in a general fashion, coverages for about 2 pages. Then they go onto to explain for many more pages the exclusions to things such as water damage. If the water damage is something that seeped in, it’s not covered. If the water damage is not sudden, it’s not covered.
If, for example, you have a fire from your wood stove, and you did not advise the insurance company that you were putting one in, then that is a material change in circumstances, and you are denied. If your pipes freeze you are covered unless you were away for an extended period of time and did not advise your insurance company.
If your house burns down or blows away in a hurricane then you should be covered unless the definition of “acts of God” extends beyond the norm. Sometimes an insurance company will outline “acts of God” as including hurricanes, terrorism, and a variety of other things.
For example, mold is not covered unless it was sudden and unforeseen. Mold is not covered because it goes to maintenance and the insurance company does not want to encourage you to do nothing in the upkeep of your home. If, however, there was a backup, or the vent system becomes unexpectedly clogged by a bird nest and mold builds up, then there is coverage. There are general exclusions however, for mold overall.
Your house policy will also cover you for your personal acts of negligence. If you bump into someone and they fall in front of a bus, then that family can sue you for negligence. You are covered. However, your home policy does not extend to coverage of you in the operation of a motor vehicle.
Read carefully your insurance policy as it has much more than you anticipate.
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