Coverage for water damage is limited in homeowner insurance policies. The policy covers the damage to your home if a pipe burst, for example, or if the wind blew your roof off and rainwater came in, but most other water losses are excluded. A typical homeowner policy will have an exclusion that defines water damage in three broad categories.

The first is flood, which includes flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not driven by wind. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance company or agent can help you with flood insurance information and pricing.

The second is water or waterborne material that backs up through sewers or drains. Most insurance companies have an endorsement that provides limited coverage for this for an additional premium. Your insurance company or agent can explain the coverage available and the cost.

The third is water or waterborne material below the surface of the ground, including water that exerts pressure on or seeps or leaks through a building, sidewalk, driveway, foundation, swimming pool, or other structure. Since this is not covered, we recommend consumers regularly inspect gutters, downspouts, drainage systems, and outdoor irrigation systems to prevent this type of loss.
That’s a possibility if the neighbor knew or should have known that his tree was dying or there was a reasonable chance it would fall. The more common situation is a windstorm blowing over a perfectly healthy tree. In that case, your neighbor’s insurance company may deny your claim because your neighbor did nothing wrong to cause your loss. The good news for this situation is your own policy will pay for your damage and fight it out with the other company. You are responsible for your deductible.
Homeowner policies generally don’t cover motor vehicles. There are specialty insurers for show cars.
In fact, they can. Dog bite claims can be quite expensive. Some insurers choose not to provide insurance to homeowners who own a dog breed with a history that suggests a dog bite claim is more likely.
Insurance rates are based primarily on the claims history of the insurance company. Homeowner rates are based on the cost to rebuild your home if you had a loss. That means rates are probably going to increase over time as the cost of rebuilding increases.
In addition, many companies have rating plans that give the lowest possible rate to policyholders who have never had a claim. Once a claim takes place, the rate is adjusted.
Insurance companies cover your losses from certain risks, including fire, windstorm, or theft. If the risk is increased by poor maintenance, an insurance company may discontinue your coverage. Companies may make periodic inspections to assess the condition of the property. Companies must provide notice if they are going to discontinue coverage, so you may be able to work with them to correct the maintenance issues.
Most people think of the liability coverage under the homeowner policy as applying to someone who is injured on their property. The coverage is much broader than that, including things such as your dog biting someone or someone claiming an injury or property damage caused by your actions. Liability arising out of the use of a motorized vehicle, however, is not generally covered. You would need to buy specific coverage.
Homeowner policies do not cover earth movement. Earthquake coverage is usually available for an additional premium, but not landslide. There is specialty coverage available for landslides, but it’s expensive and hard to find.
Homeowner policies provide broad coverage for personal property that is probably adequate for the average homeowner. However, there are generally special limits for certain classes of property. Jewelry, for example, might be limited to $1,500. If you have jewelry of greater value, you may want to consider either buying higher limits or buying a specific endorsement for each piece. If you choose to buy specific coverage, you may also be covered for more causes of loss. Money and coin collections usually have a very low limit, sometimes as low as $200. Guns and other classes of property may also be limited.

Your policy should have a section that specifies special limits. You may generally buy higher limits if you need them, but you don’t want to find out your coverage is inadequate after a loss. We suggest periodically going over your insurance coverage with your agent or customer service representative to make sure you have what you need.
You might be in for a big surprise. Homeowner policies generally exclude certain losses if the house is vacant or unoccupied for a period of time. Vandalism and malicious mischief, for example, are typically excluded after 60 days. Also, damage caused by freezing of plumbing, heating, or air conditioning systems may not be covered unless you maintain heat in the building or drain the pipes. Each company has differences in policy language, so be sure to carefully check your policy.

Your insurance company may also choose to discontinue your coverage. Most companies choose to insure properties that are occupied.
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