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Common Situations Related to Homeowners, Condo Owners or Renters Insurance

Every now and then changes in your life may affect your homeowners insurance coverage. The following information guides you through some common situations.

A member of your household moves out of your home
A household member who establishes permanent residence away from your home needs his or her own policy. If a household member is residing temporarily away from your home, your homeowners policy normally provides liability protection and personal property coverage, subject to the limitations in your policy.

Example: A family member is called for military duty, leaves to care for a relative or leaves home for school. These situations are covered as temporary residence situations, as long as that family member's temporary residence is within the United States.

Your child is leaving for college
If your child is temporarily residing at a school residence, your homeowner's policy normally insures your child's belongings, subject to the terms in your policy. However, if your children are residing permanently away from home, they will need their own policies.

You change your name
If you change your name, you need to tell your insurance agent immediately so you are correctly and accurately listed as a covered person on your policy.

Your marital status changes
Advise your insurance agent immediately to update named insured information on your policy. Your agent will also review your policy with this new information to make sure your policy information and coverage are up to date.

You have a heating device installed
Notify your insurance agent before having a heating device installed. In order for coverage to extend to a gas or solid fuel heating device, it must be approved by a certified testing laboratory and have a test label attached to it.

You get a dog
Notify your insurance agent immediately if you get a dog. In most cases, your homeowner policy provides liability protection to you due to the actions of your dog. However, many insurance companies do not write coverage if you own certain breeds of dogs. These breeds typically include, but are not limited to: Akita, American pit bull terrier, chow, Rottweiler, wolf hybrids, any dog that is a mixed breed containing any of these breeds, or any pet that displays vicious tendencies. If you have additional questions, contact your agent.

You purchase a boat
Most homeowner policies provide limited coverage for small watercraft, such as a canoe or kayak, and related equipment such as trailers, accessories and some small outboard motors.

The best way to be certain your boat is insured properly is with a separate boat owner's policy.

You own a second home
If you own a second home or vacation property, you’ll need a second policy. You can customize the insurance coverage on your secondary and/or seasonal property with endorsements that may include:

  • Coverage for structures other than your home
  • Coverage for boat docks
  • Liability coverage for farmland rented to others
  • Limited coverage for backup of sewer and sump pump systems

Someone unrelated to you moves into your home
Tell your insurance agent immediately if someone unrelated to you moves into your home. It is very important that you discuss the situation to determine how the insurance needs of the new resident will be met.

If a new resident of your household is renting from you, he or she should purchase their own renters or tenant insurance policy. In other situations, such as residents of your household who are under age 21 and in your care, or in the care of your resident relatives, coverage may be provided assuming that underwriting requirements are met and that an application for insurance is signed. Be sure to review your policy with your agent to verify that your policy coverage is current.

You rent your home to others
Advise your insurance agent immediately if you rent your home to others. A review of your insurance needs will be conducted to determine the correct policy is provided to cover your home. Your renters will need their own renter or tenant insurance.

You don't have much personal property
When you take into account furniture, clothes, personal electronics (TV, stereo, etc.) and appliances, you probably have more personal property than you realize! When you apply for coverage, take a complete inventory of your possessions to determine what you have and what it would cost to replace them. Whenever possible, include the approximate replacement cost of each item.

You have a roommate
Advise your insurance agent immediately that you have a roommate. It is important that your agent update your policy to properly insure your roommate.

In addition, your roommate should purchase a tenant or renters insurance policy to have their personal possessions properly covered as well as liability coverage for any injuries or damage they are responsible for.

If you and your roommate decide to have one policy for both of you:

  • The policy must be written in both names
  • Each person must be named insureds in the policy declaration
  • Each person must meet eligibility requirements
  • Application questions must be asked of each individual
  • Both applicants must review and sign the application

You work at home  
If you have a home-based business, you may require additional insurance. You can change your homeowner, condo or renter's policy to include limited business or professional coverages.

Examples include:

  • Coverage for business or professional offices
  • Child care businesses in the home
  • Private schools or studios for music, dance, photography and other instructional purposes
  • Small service-oriented businesses, such as barber shops, beauty shops, tailors, dressmakers or shoe repair shops using handwork only
  • Property that provides merchandise storage

In some cases, a separate business insurance policy will be necessary.

Your personal property is stolen from your automobile
Your personal property would be covered if it is stolen from your automobile, subject to any deductibles or specific exclusions.

For example, your CDs, DVDs, MP3 players, portable CD and DVD players, etc., would not be covered if there is a device within your vehicle for playing these and they were stolen from your vehicle. For additional information, contact your insurance agent.

Someone is injured while working in your home
If someone is working in your home (example: domestic employee) with the permission of the insured, and gets injured, the insurer pays the medical expenses. The insurer also provides legal defense on behalf of an insured, if a suit is brought against an insured for damages.

You're sued after someone slips on ice in front of your home
If someone slips and falls on an icy sidewalk in front of your home, the insurer pays for the medical expenses up to the limits of the policy. Most insurance companies also provide for a legal defense if you are sued for bodily injury or property damage.

You're sued due to your actions as an unpaid volunteer
Many companies extend coverage to you for bodily injury or property damage that arises out of volunteer work including director, officer or trustee of a religious, charitable or civic non-profit organization. An elected public official does not qualify.

When Bad Things Happen to Your Home

Your home is damaged or had a loss
If there has been a prior loss at your home, there are a few simple steps you should follow:

  1. Notify the police if the loss is by theft.
  2. If the loss involves credit or debit cards, notify the card company as soon as possible to prevent fraudulent billing.
  3. Protect the property from further damage.
  4. Notify your insurance company immediately if you receive any notice, demand or legal paper relating to the accident or occurrence.
  5. Prepare an inventory of the damaged personal property. (We recommend that you make a video or photo inventory of your home and furnishings and store the information in an off premise location.)

Whenever you have an incident that results in a claim, realize that every insurance company has its own rules and guidelines when it comes to applying for a new policy.

You have a sewer or septic tank backup
Many homeowners, condo and renters policies do not include coverage for sewer backups. However, optional endorsements are available that provide a limited amount of protection against loss covered by sewer backup. Check with your insurance agent about sewer or septic tank backup coverage.

Your jewelry is stolen
Most homeowners, condo and renters insurance policies provide a limited amount of coverage for loss of jewelry (rings, necklaces, watches, etc.). Additional coverage is available to provide increased limits of accidental loss or damage if you acquire additional or more expensive jewelry. You may also schedule (list) your individual items of jewelry for an increase in limits.

Your personal property is stolen while you are on vacation
Many insurance companies provide coverage for personal property owned or used by an insured anywhere in the world. However, there are limitations. Check your specific policy for limitations and exclusions.

You can no longer use your home due to an insured loss
If your home is damaged by a covered peril making it uninhabitable, most companies will pay for any necessary increase in living expenses, so that you can maintain your normal standard of living.

Your property needs to be stored temporarily if your home is damaged
Coverage is automatically provided for personal property that needs to be stored temporarily away from the insured premises. However, this coverage is subject to limitations on certain types of property. For additional information, contact your insurance agent.

A tree falls on your house
Damage to your home and contents would be covered. Normally, there would also be some coverage for removing the tree and debris from the house. (Some exclusions or limitations may apply to the tree itself.) If the tree is on the insured premises, the tree itself would be covered if the loss is caused by the following perils:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Explosion
  • Riot
  • Civil Commotion
  • Aircraft
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Vehicles not owned or operated by an occupant of the insured premisis


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