You’ve finally done it. You’ve bought your dream house in Hillsboro, OR. Congratulations! Now it’s time to protect your investment with homeowners insurance. But what exactly does homeowners insurance cover? Property damage and insurance can be confusing, so we’re here to help clear things up.
If you’re a homeowner, chances are you’ll experience some type of property damage at some point or another. Whether it’s a cracked window from a stray baseball, a broken fence from a severe storm, or even water damage from a faulty pipe, dealing with property damage can be a headache.
Fortunately, if you have insurance, your insurance company should help cover the cost of repairs. But what exactly does insurance cover? And how do you go about filing a claim? This beginner’s guide will walk you through everything you need to know about property damage and insurance.
What is Homeowners Insurance?
Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers your home in the event that it is damaged or destroyed. Homeowners insurance also covers your personal belongings in the event that they are damaged or stolen. In most cases, homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage in the event that someone is injured on your property.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
The first step in understanding your coverage is to read your policy documents. Your insurance policy will list what types of damage are and are not covered. For example, most homeowners policies in Hillsboro, OR cover three main types of perils: fire damage, wind damage, and theft. Most policies will also cover water damage caused by plumbing leaks. However, they typically will not cover water damage caused by floods, earthquakes, or landslides (earth movement). Earthquake and flood damage are typically excluded from standard homeowners policies but can be covered by separate policies. It’s important to check with your insurer to find out exactly what your policy covers so that you can be prepared if something happens.
Property Damage Events that Often Aren’t Covered
Here at PuroClean Restoration Services, we’ve seen many instances in which homeowners in the Hillsboro, OR area are unpleasantly surprised to find that their insurance policy doesn’t cover the damage they’d assumed it would. Here are six property damage scenarios that your home insurance will likely not cover.
- Earthquakes: Oregon is known as earthquake country due to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. You can usually buy earthquake as a separate endorsement to your homeowner or renter policy or as a stand-alone policy that is separate from your homeowner policy.
- Landslides (earth movement): this type of coverage may be difficult to obtain in Hillsboro, OR so be sure to talk to an agent.
- Flooding: Oregonians in and around wildfire affected areas face an increased risk of flooding and mudflows for several years due to the 2020 Labor Day wildfires. Flooding caused by natural disasters is generally not covered. For that, you will need separate flood insurance that you can get from The National Flood Insurance Program. However, accidental flooding, such as that caused by a burst pipe in your home, is usually covered.
- Sewage backups: these are mainly caused by main line clogs, tree roots, heavy rainfall, and damage to the sewer lines, and are excluded from your homeowner’s policy. To cover such events, buy a separate policy or an endorsement.
- Mold: coverage for mold damage depends on what caused mold to grow. If the source of moisture that led to mold was due to neglected home maintenance, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be covered. Also, mold occurring after flood damage caused by natural disasters isn’t covered either. If the cause of mold growth resulted from accidents like fire, lightning, or sudden water issues, then mold remediation is often covered by most homeowners policies.
- Construction work damage: standard homeowners insurance likely will not cover any damage that arises from renovating your home. You may get insurance for that separately, though. Also, when hiring a contractor, make sure they are licensed for any liability.
- Termite infestation: termites are a big problem in the U.S. and in Hillsboro, OR in particular thanks to Pacific Northwest rains creating the perfect conditions for termites to thrive. The National Pest Management Association estimates termites cause $5 billion in damage across the country each year. To avoid this problem, hire a licensed pest control company to inspect your home regularly.
It might seem natural to assume your homeowners insurance policy will cover everything that could go wrong with your home, but that’s not the case. Be prepared and make sure to have that conversation with your insurance provider. A 20-minute meeting could end up protecting your family when the unexpected hits.
What is an Insurance Endorsement?
An insurance endorsement is a type of policy amendment that adds or changes coverage. For example, if you have homeowners insurance and want to add coverage for sewer water backups, you would need to add an endorsement to your policy. Endorsements can be added for a variety of reasons, such as to increase or decrease coverage, to add or change exclusions, or to add or change the deductible amount.
What are Deductibles and Limits?
Your homeowners policy will have two important limits: the per occurrence limit and the dwelling limit. The per occurrence limit is the maximum amount that your insurer will pay for any one covered incident. The dwelling limit is the maximum amount that your insurer will pay to repair or rebuild your home. These limits will be stated in your policy, and it’s important to make sure that they adequately reflect the value of your home and possessions.
It’s also important to note that most homeowners policies have a deductible—the amount you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket before your coverage kicks in. Deductibles can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, so it’s important to choose a deductible that you’ll be able to afford if you ever need to file a claim.
How Do I File a Claim?
If you experience property damage and need to file a claim, the first thing you’ll need to do is contact your insurance company and let them know what happened. They will likely ask you for pictures of the damage as well as an estimate of the repair costs.PuroClean Restoration Services can help you determine if you need to file a claim and will work directly with your insurance provider to make the restoration process as easy as possible.
What If My Claim Is Denied?
There are a few reasons why an insurance claim might be denied. The most common reason is that the damage is not covered by your policy. Remember to read your policy document carefully so that you know what is and is not covered. Another common reason for denial is if the insurance company believes that you were negligent in maintaining your property (for example, if they believe you failed to repair a broken window in a timely manner and the window ended up shattering during a storm). If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision by providing additional evidence or documentation to support your case.
The State of Oregon’s Division of Financial Regulation provides a variety of resources to homeowners in Oregon for learning about home insurance and disaster preparedness. These resources include an online guide to home insurance, as well as helpful information on topics such as preparing your home for property damage resulting from earthquakes, floods, storms, and wildfires. Visit their website to learn more.
If you’ve experienced property damage and need help restoring your home, PuroClean Restoration Services is here to help. We offer a wide range of restoration services to help get your home back to its pre-loss condition. From water damage restoration to fire and smoke damage cleanup, we can handle it all. We have years of experience restoring homes after property damage, so you can rest assured that we know what we’re doing. We work directly with insurance providers to ensure that everything goes smoothly from start to finish. We also have a team of experts who are available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Now that you know all there is to know about property damage and insurance, you’re ready to purchase a policy for your new home. Be sure to shop around for the best rate and coverage in the [metro_area} area, and don’t forget to read the fine print! It’s important to understand what your policy covers and how to file a claim in order to avoid any surprises down the road. By following this guide, you’ll be better prepared to deal with any property damage and insurance claims.
If you’ve experienced property damage, don’t hesitate to contact us for help.