10 Things You Had No Idea Home Insurance Actually Covers

You expect your homeowners insurance to pay for damage caused by storms and fire, but unless you’ve read your entire policy (usually 30 pages or more), you might not know you’re covered for damages caused by other, much less common, events. Many policies cover a range of incidents you've probably never considered. In the unfortunate event that any of the following occurrences should befall you, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised to discover that your homeowners insurance policy will cover your expenses.

  1. Slander or Libel Suit

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    Slander or Libel Suit

    People talk, right? But, if you’ve been spreading rumors about a neighbor, a business, or an acquaintance, you could find yourself on the receiving end of civil lawsuit. The absolute defense to slander (oral defamation) or libel (written defamation) is the truth, but you’ll have prove that in a court of law. Surprisingly, your home insurance policy may cover your legal expenses.

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  2. Dog Bite Damages

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    Dog Bite Damages

    If sweet little Fido gets it into his head to bite the postman (or any other visitor to your home), your homeowners insurance will likely pay the victim’s medical costs up to a certain amount that is listed in your policy. This is usually a one-time deal, though. After the insurance company pays the bill, you’ll be advised to rehome your pooch or keep him away from visitors. If he bites a second time, you may have to pay the medical costs yourself.

    Related: 9 Ways to Pay Less for Home Insurance

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  3. Trampoline Accidents

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    Trampoline Accidents

    An unsafe jump can send a child hurtling off the trampoline to the ground, resulting in serious injuries. So, the best rule of thumb is to learn safe trampoline practices and then monitor your children (and their friends) when they’re jumping. If despite your best efforts a child is injured, your homeowners policy will probably pay a portion of the medical costs. Your insurer may then advise you to get rid of the trampoline, and any future accidents will probably not be covered.

    Related: These Are the Most Common Ways People Hurt Themselves at Home

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  4. Food and Lodging Costs

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    Food and Lodging Costs

    If your home becomes unlivable after damage by fire, a fallen tree, or some other calamity, you'll need to find shelter elsewhere. Fortunately, it's possible that your insurer covers lodging costs—up to a certain amount—and might also reimburse your restaurant bills. Different policies set different limits on the dollar amount, so check with your agent about your coverage.

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  5. Fire Department Bills

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    Fire Department Bills

    The fire departments in some communities send homeowners a bill if they’re called to their house to fight a fire. The cause of the fire will determine whether your insurer will cover that bill. If the fire was accidental (caused by faulty wiring or something left on the stove, for instance), you’ll be covered. If, however, it’s determined that you purposely set the fire, you're on your own—and you may also face an arson charge.

    Related: 10 Things Your Local Fire Department Wishes You Knew

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  6. Identity Theft

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    Identity Theft

    It’s a much too common problem these days: Someone steals your identity, either online or by swiping your wallet or credit card receipts, and then the thief racks up purchases and destroys your credit. In the devastating aftermath, take some small comfort from the possibility that your home insurance policy may reimburse legal expenses you incur and might also compensate you for lost wages while you’re dealing with the problem.

    Related: 7 Surprising Items Burglars Want to Steal from You

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  7. Mandatory Property Upgrades

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    Mandatory Property Upgrades

    If your community passes an ordinance forcing you to make repairs to your property—if, for example, you're required to pour a sidewalk in front of your home—your insurance policy will probably reimburse you for construction costs. Check your policy under “Ordinance Coverage” to find out what’s reimbursable.

    Related: 10 Things No One Tells You About Homeowners Associations

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  8. Food Loss

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    Food Loss

    Most home insurance policies will cover $350 to $500 in spoiled food costs if the loss is caused by a power outage or the failure of a new refrigerator, typically less than five years old. If your refrigerator dies and it's more than five years old, you may have to pay the cost of replacing the spoiled food yourself.

    Related: 10 Things You Should Never Do When the Power Goes Out

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  9. Volcanic Eruptions

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    Volcanic Eruptions

    It may surprise you to learn that your house is probably covered for damages caused by a volcanic eruption. Unlike damage cause by earthquakes and floods, which require special insurance endorsements in order for you to be reimbursed for repairs, most home insurance policies cover damage from both hot lava and the layers of volcanic ash that could settle on your property.

    Related: 9 Things You Won’t Believe Home Insurance Doesn’t Cover

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  10. Criminal Damage to Your Yard

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    Criminal Damage to Your Yard

    If teens out on a weekend joyride decide to do donuts on your lawn, or if your neighbor across the street accidentally backs over your picket fence, your home insurance will probably cover the cost of repairing the damage. The coverage may be limited, typically between $500 to $1,000 per event, but the money will come in handy for fixes like fence repairs or having your lawn leveled and reseeded.

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  11. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!