Homeowners insurance is an incredible safety net to have when something catastrophic happens to your property, whether it’s damage from a burst pipe, a fire, a hurricane, or even a riot.
But what about some of life’s less common circumstances? Like sustaining damage from a piece of space junk falling on your roof or getting slapped with a lawsuit for leaving a negative online review? Indeed, while homeowners insurance covers a lot of the big, common stuff, there are a few lesser-known events it covers, too. Read on to see seven bizarre things your homeowners insurance may cover.
1. Wild Animals
It’s important to note that when it comes to wild animals, the events covered by homeowners insurance vary greatly depending on your policy and your provider. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) blog, “You probably aren’t covered for any damage to the building caused by birds, rodents, insects, or vermin. There also probably won’t be coverage for any nesting or infestation.”
2. Party Guests
It’s all fun and games until someone gets a little too tipsy at your cocktail party and knocks over your expensive Chihuly or elbows a hole in your drywall. Luckily, if you’re a homeowner who finds yourself with an expensive cleanup after a raucous night in, most homeowners insurance policies will cover the damages.
Further, it’s important to know your state’s “social host” laws, as they could contain language that means you’re liable if one of your party guests gets injured. For instance, if one of your guests decides to drive home and winds up injured (or damages their vehicle), they could sue you for damages. In these cases, your homeowners “liquor liability insurance” will cover the costs if you’re found liable.
3. Falling Objects
While in a perfect world you wouldn’t have to worry about the sky turning against you and damaging your property, the fact of the matter is that “falling objects”—like satellites, for example—do affect Earthlings from time to time. Just ask Lottie Williams, who was (gently)hit by a piece of falling space junk in 1997. Though it’s extremely rare that falling space junk impacts people’s homes, most standard homeowners insurance policies include compensation for damage sustained from qualifying items that fall from the sky. According to the III, “Falling objects—including satellites, asteroids, meteors, and space debris—are covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies.”
4. Vandalized Headstones
Tombstones are costly items—from both a financial and sentimental perspective—that aren’t easy to repair or replace. However, the reality is that sometimes, tombstones are the target of vandalism and other pranks. The good news? Most homeowners policies include “afterlife insurance.” As one of the 16 perils, “vandalism or malicious mischief” applies to tampering with gravestones, even though they’re not technically on your property.
“Most people know that personal property refers to the things in a home, but gravestones you own are covered under that,” said State Farm spokesman Dick Luedke as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
In other words, if a trouble-causing teenager spray-paints or defaces a headstone that you own, you’re covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
5. Campus Theft
What’s not to love about college life? However, an unfortunate part of the college experience among students is personal property theft. Phones, bikes, and electronics like laptops are among the most common property reported stolen on college campuses, so it’s important to insure them.
If you’re the parent of a child moving into a dorm, in many cases, your homeowners insurance applies to your kid’s belongings if they live in an on-campus dwelling.
“Most homeowners and renters policies include protection for a college student’s personal possessions (e.g., a TV, clothing, and furniture) away from home, if they live on-campus,” says the III. ” The III further explains that some policies may have limitations, such as limiting this coverage to 10% of the policy’s total coverage for your child’s personal belongings.
However, you should be aware that this applies to dorm-dwelling students only. If your child moves into an off-campus apartment, you want to look into renters insurance to cover their possessions. What’s more, not all items are covered equally, and “jewelry, expensive sports equipment, and musical instruments may be subject to dollar limits,” according to the III.
6. Fine Wine
If you’ve got an expensive bottle (or collection) of wine in your home, your homeowner’s insurance may cover its loss or damage in certain cases and against certain perils. For instance, according to the III, if you experience a power outage caused by one of the 16 perils and your wine collection overheats (or freezes), you may be able to recoup your losses under the food spoilage clause of your policy. If a pipe bursts and your wine cellar floods, you’ll likely be covered. Your wine collection might also be covered in the instance of a robbery, a fire, or other covered perils. In any and all of these cases, it’s definitely worth your time to file a claim and try to recoup some of those losses.
However, if water seeps into your basement (or wine cellar) from the ground, you’ll likely not be covered, so don’t bother filing a claim. When push comes to shove, you need to check with your insurer to determine which events are and aren’t covered by your policy.
7. Negative Reviews
Sometimes, you’re not satisfied with the service you get from a business. In fact, you may blow off some steam online if you find yourself dissatisfied with, say, the job a flooring company did in your house or the service you received from a physician. However, the downside to broadcasting your bad experience on sites like Yelp is that you could get slapped with a lawsuit from the vendor, and there are tons of instances where this has happened. In fact, one woman in Tennessee was sued for a whopping $25,000 after leaving a negative Yelp review about a doctor.
But according to the III, instances like these may very well be covered by your homeowners insurance. Specifically, the cost of hiring a lawyer to defend you in court, as well as any court awards, are covered by the liability portion of many homeowners insurance policies.
It’s good to know the extent to which your homeowners insurance policy covers you, but that doesn’t mean you have to navigate your policy alone. Here are a few resources with tons of information about the ins and outs of homeowners insurance.