Lesser-Known Losses That Homeowners’ Insurance Covers

It can come to a shock that few policyholders thoroughly understand what their coverage offers. Here are some hidden and unexpected perks many homeowners’ and renters’ policies offer:

  • Valuable Document Protection – Many policies pay up to a specified limit for lost securities, deeds, legal documents, photos and videos, financial and health records, passports, tickets, stamps and stamp collections.
  • Identity Fraud – Some car policies, such as MetLife’s, include identity theft protection. But many insurers offer this protection through their standard homeowners policies. State Farm, among others, under its homeowners, renters, condominium, manufactured home and farm and ranch policies, offers a $25 optional endorsement that provides expense reimbursement and personal help for identity loss recovery. Farmers Insurance offers $30,000 identity fraud coverage in some areas.
  • Pet Coverage – Pays for veterinary care and burial of any domestic household animal injured or killed in a house fire or similar covered loss, subject to dollar limitations.
  • Forged Checks and Fraud – State Farm, Allstate and many other carriers reimburse their policyholders when they receive funny money or someone forges one of their checks.
  • Damaged Tombstones – Many standard homeowners policies cover damage to a grave marker caused by hurricanes and covered events.
  • Fallen Trees – Most policies pay for removal of a tree knocked over by wind, even if it didn’t hit the house.
  • Spoiled Food – Chubb is but one homeowners insurer that will cover up to $5,000 worth of food that goes bad in a freezer due to a power outage.
  • Theft of Personal Articles – Auto insurance rarely covers theft of personal articles like golf clubs or luggage from the car, but homeowners policies usually do. Carefully read the policy section “Coverage C Personal Property” which extends coverage for personal belongings anywhere in the world, usually subject to some limitations for electronic devices. Policies may even cover personal property stolen from a secured rental storage facility.
  • Electronic Data Restoration – Many homeowners’ policies pay to restore lost personal information that’s on a computer hit by a hurricane or even a virus. Coverage is typically capped at a set dollar amount, and a deductible may be involved.
  • Locksmithing – Homeowners policies often pay to have new locks installed when an intruder breaks in.
  • False Alarms – Some community fire departments charge for false alarms. Many insurers will reimburse for the fee, typically up to $250-$500.
  • Dog Bites – Many homeowners policies cover medical bills when your dog bites a guest or visitor. But some insurers exclude certain breeds they consider dangerous, like pit bulls. Also, it’s not uncommon for a policy to cover only the first biting event and then not offer coverage again.
  • Camera Loss – Most policies will reimburse for a camera that’s stolen on vacation, or accidentally dropped into the ocean.
  • Dorm Theft – Parents may be able to extend their homeowners policies to cover theft of a laptop computer and other electronic devices.
  • Business Property – Often subject to a dollar limit, and perhaps excluding computers and data, some homeowners policies cover business-related property “on the residence premises” that’s damaged or lost in a covered event: fire, windstorm, etc.

Insurers and policies vary, so check with an agent on coverage details, limits and conditions. Also, insurers expect proof, so hang onto receipts and paperwork.

When getting homeowner insurance quotes, bear in mind that some coverage perks are built into standard policies, while others may be via “extensions of coverage” and “endorsements” that require paying a higher premium.