What is homeowner insurance? | Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (2024)

Homeowner insurance property protection typically protects your home and personal belongings from damage caused by specific risks (often called perils). These include fire, explosion, windstorm, hail, theft, or vandalism. Your policy typically will not cover damage caused by maintenance issues such as a leaking pipe or a worn out roof.

Dwelling coverage

This typically covers repairing or replacing your damaged or destroyed home, including attachments, such as garages or decks.

Coverage for other structures

This is coverage to repair or replace other permanent, separate, unattached structures on your property. Common examples include a detached garage, workshop or attached fence. Review your policy limits to ensure that you have enough coverage for your other structures.

Talk to your agent about getting additional coverage if:

  • You have multiple structures on your property
  • You rent out any structures on your property
  • You use any structures on your property for a home business

Personal property coverage

This includes coverage for your furnishings and personal items, such as your TV, stereo, clothing, dishes, etc. The policy covers your property for its value with depreciation from use (this is also known as actual cash value, or ACV). If you want to be reimbursed for what it costs to replace your damaged property, you'll need to buy replacement-cost coverage.

Your policy may limit coverage for certain kinds of items, such as jewelry, collectibles, art, tools, or silver. If you have these types of items, talk to your agent about buying additional coverage or increasing your limits.

Loss of use or additional living expenses coverage

This pays for living expenses over and above your normal living expenses if your house is damaged or destroyed and you need another place to stay while it’s being repaired or rebuilt. This could include increased mileage or increases to housing, food, and laundry costs.

Additional coverages you can get with your homeowner insurance

Your policy generally includes additional limited coverage for debris removal and damage to trees, plants and shrubs. It also could include credit card coverage, which protects you if someone steals your credit card and makes unauthorized charges. Another common endorsem*nt or additional coverage you may want to ask about is sewer back up and/or sump pump overflow. Check with your agent or insurance company to see if additional coverages are available.

Home insurance liability protection

This is will help cover medical payments for guests, as well as general and personal liability.

Medical payments

This pays the medical expenses of others if they're accidentally injured on your property. Most policies include at least $1,000 of coverage, but you can get higher limits. Generally, this coverage applies only to guests who are on your property with your permission.

Liability

This pays expenses for bodily injury and property damage that happens to others when you're legally liable. For example, if you knew you had a loose deck railing and someone leaned on it, fell off and was hurt, you can be held liable.

Most policies include at least $100,000 of coverage, but higher limits may be available.

Personal liability

This extends coverage beyond your property limits. If an incident occurs involving family members who live with you (as defined in your policy) at other locations, it will cover the liability of your family members. For example, it may provide coverage if your minor child damages a neighbor’s property.

What’s not covered under homeowner insurance

Don't be surprised: There are several major risks that standard homeowner policies do not always cover. These include earthquakes, floods, landslides or volcanoes. If you face these risks, you should strongly consider buying additional coverage.

What is homeowner insurance? | Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner (2024)

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