Most homeowners insurance policies are HO-3 policies, meaning that they cover almost everything bad that can happen to you except certain things named in the policy that are not covered.
Here are six items that most folks think might be covered, but in many cases, they are not.
1. Termite damage
Our climate here in Georgia is particularly agreeable to termites, and they do a lot of damage to the wood parts of our homes every year.
Typically, damage caused by termites or other wood destroying organisms is not covered by your homeowners insurance.
Fortunately, many pest control companies will offer you a re-treatment warranty if termites come back, and some also offer a repair warranty, but those warranties are usually limited to one year at a time and require an annual inspection.
Similarly, damage caused by rodents or caused by nesting birds is usually not covered.
2. Damage from earthquakes or other earth movement
That would include sinkholes which might appear. Earthquake insurance is available at an added expense, but we don’t get many in Georgia, so most folks ignore the risk. Water damage from flooding is usually not included, and this can be a big deal for owners who live near a river or creek. Flood insurance is typically only available from the National Flood Insurance Program, and it’s often quite expensive.
3. Mold and mildew damage
Controlling mold or mildew is considered a normal maintenance item, but I have seen mold infestations so bad that the house was uninhabitable. In any case, don’t count on your insurance policy to make it right.
4. Diving boards and trampolines
These are considered excessively dangerous by insurance companies, and they are excluded from most homeowners policies. However, coverage for these can usually be added for an additional premium.
5. Your roof may be covered, but it may not, depending on your policy
Typically, if damage is caused to your roof by a sudden event, like a tree limb falls and makes a hole in your roof, then you are probably covered. But if the damage is caused by natural deterioration over a period of time, that is considered to be a normal maintenance item, and is usually not covered.
6. Damages caused by governmental action
These are usually not covered by your homeowners insurance policy. I had a rental house years ago where the wife shot a gun at her husband and the bullet went through the ceiling. Then the police showed up and cut out a big chunk of the ceiling saying it was evidence. I called the insurance company. They denied the claim by calling it a "governmental action."
These are just six items that are typically not covered by your homeowners policy, and your policy probably has other excluded areas. Every policy is different, and that's why it's so important to meet with your insurance agent annually to review your coverage and make sure you understand what is and is not insured. Shop and compare between companies to get the best policy for your needs.
Atlanta native John Adams has been a real estate broker and investor in residential real estate for the past four decades, and has seen the market go up and down and back up. He hosts "The Real Estate Coffee Break" every Saturday at 11 a.m. at RealEstateCoffeeBreak.com.