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What’s Not Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Updated May 4, 2024 . AmFam Team

Home insurance is designed to protect you from the unexpected and understanding how you’re covered can give you confidence in the coverage you pay for. But what’s just as important is knowing what your home insurance doesn’t cover. This way, you know how to better protect your home and determine your options for additional coverage if available.

Here’s a look at what your basic home insurance policy doesn’t cover, and your options for adding protection for those unexpected events.

HO-3 Policy Exclusions

The most popular homeowners insurance policies offer “special form” coverage on your dwelling and other structures, which means the policy covers everything except what is excluded. So anything that isn’t specifically listed on your policy as excluded should be covered. Typical policy exclusions include the following:

  • Water/flood
  • Earth movement, like earthquake, sinkholes and landslides
  • Power failure
  • War
  • Nuclear hazard
  • Intentional acts
  • Enforcement of building codes
  • Pollution

What Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Won’t Cover

Here are some more common instances where your home insurance doesn’t offer protection. Read carefully, though, since there are some caveats.

Burst Water Pipes

When it comes to water damage and homeowners insurance, things can get a little tricky. But the important thing to remember is that your home insurance covers sudden and accidental water damage that results from things like a plumbing fixture failure or a burst pipe. It doesn’t cover damages from slow water leaks that create hidden damage over time. It also doesn’t cover the cost to replace the burst pipe, only the damage the released water caused.

The damage from small, slow leaks aren’t covered because that’s considered a maintenance issue. Find out more about homeowners insurance and burst pipes and plumbing.

Mold Damage

Your home insurance doesn’t cover mold damage that results from types of losses that aren’t covered by the policy, such as flooding or high humidity. But most companies offer limited coverage if the mold is a result of a covered instance, like mold caused by the water used to extinguish a fire.

Termite Damage

Termites may be small, but that doesn’t stop them from causing some serious damage! Since a termite infestation is something that should be addressed through routine home maintenance, damage from termites isn’t covered by your home insurance policy. So, it’s important you’re thorough about termite inspections and preventative care. And, if you’re purchasing a home, don’t sign the paperwork until you’re sure termites are nowhere in sight.

Street of residential houses

Optional Home Insurance Coverage

Take a look at common events not covered by your home insurance policy. The good news is that all of these can be added to your homeowners policy — which is worth the price when you consider how much you could be paying out of pocket if you were to face damages.

Flooding Coverage

While flooding isn’t covered by a standard home insurance policy, you can add flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Even if you live in a low- to moderate-risk area, flooding can happen almost anywhere. Having this protection in place can help cover the cost to repair flood damage to your home’s structure, as well as your personal property, like clothes, furniture, electronics and other possessions.

Building Ordinance or Law Coverage

Most municipalities have rules about how a home can be repaired if it suffers significant damage. For example, in many communities, if a home is more than 50% damaged by a loss, the entire structure must be demolished. Many times, after a building is damaged by fire, local building codes will require that the homeowner replace battery powered smoke detectors with hard-wired smoke detectors (ones that are directly connected to your home’s electrical system). These additional costs aren’t covered by homeowners insurance unless building ordinance or law coverage is added. This coverage helps pay the cost of demolition and debris removal if your home has to be demolished, or additional costs from complying with current building codes that differ from those in place when your home was built.

Sump Pump Overflow Coverage

A sump pump is designed to remove excess water that accumulates around your home’s foundation, but if that system ever fails or the power goes out, water overflow may occur, which could result in damage to your property — and that damage isn’t covered by your standard home insurance.

That’s why adding sump pump overflow coverage is a good idea. It’s designed to mitigate the cost of repairs caused if your sump overflows due to power failure or because it can’t keep up with the volume of water coming in. So for damage caused by a malfunctioning or overwhelmed sump pump, you’ll be covered when you have this add-on.

Sewer Backup Coverage

Water that backs up into your home through sewers and drains isn’t covered by your standard home insurance either. If you’re hooked up to city sewer, a backup can cause significant damage to your home.

Purchasing sewer backup coverage can help. It pays to repair or replace property damaged when your sewers or drains backup into your home. This coverage protects you from things like a failure in the system, such as a collapsed sewer pipe, or when a heavy rain overwhelms the system. (But backups caused by flooding still won’t be covered without flood insurance.)

Earthquake Coverage

Since earthquakes are considered earth movement, they’re also not covered by homeowners insurance, but you can purchase earthquake coverage to add on to your policy. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you’ll have peace of mind knowing this coverage can help cover the cost of potential damage to your home and personal belongings, as well as provide additional living expenses if you need to live somewhere else while your home is being repaired.

Request a Homeowners Insurance Quote

Your smartest move to ensure you have the right coverages in place for your home is connecting with an American Family Insurance agent — they’ll help you customize your coverage to match your needs. Get in touch today and find out how you can protect what matters most.

This information represents only a brief description of coverages, is not part of your policy, and is not a promise or guarantee of coverage. If there is any conflict between this information and your policy, the provisions of the policy will prevail. Insurance policy terms and conditions may apply. Exclusions may apply to policies, endorsements, or riders. Coverage may vary by state and may be subject to change. Some products are not available in every state. Please read your policy and contact your agent for assistance.

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