Because our job as NH insurance agents is to protect our clients, there is nothing we hate more than to tell a client "you don't have any coverage." Unfortunately this can happen when people make assumptions about their coverage without asking a professional.
As the staff of HPM Insurance in New Hampshire has decades of experience, we would like to share the top 5 homeowner insurance claims that we see denied even though the client thought they had coverage.
This coverage interpretation is meant to give the reader a guide on the position of many insurance companies, but is in no way an attempt to interpret coverage on all policies. If you have a specific question in regards to your own policy, please call your New Hampshire homeowners insurance agent to discuss the specifics of your situation.
#1: "I thought my homeowners insurance would cover my car as a tree fell on it while in my driveway!"
It does not matter if a car is registered or not registered, driven every day or not driven in years with the battery removed, there is absolutely no coverage for a car or truck on a homeowner's policy. To quote an insurance company's standard policy language "we do not cover motor vehicles or all other motorized land conveyances..."
Solution: All car and trucks must be insured on a car insurance policy. Refer to the HPM blog "Top 5 Ways to Save Money on NH Car Insurance" to read about insuring your car or truck for comprehensive coverage only. This is the most cost effective way to ensure your car is protected even when not used and parked.
#2: "Why isn't my rider lawnmower covered after it rolled down my hill?"
As many things in insurance, coverage is not always black and white. Yes I just stated that the standard homeowner's policy does not cover motor vehicles, however it can cover "vehicles or conveyances NOT subject to motor vehicle registration which are: A. Used to service an 'insured's residence' or B. Designed for assisting handicapped."
This would imply that the rider lawnmower or personal tractor is covered under the homeowner's policy... right? Well yes and no. Yes it is covered, but only for the causes of losses indicated in the policy, which typically are things like fire, windstorm, theft. There is no coverage for collision or roll-over for personal property.
Solution: Buy a separate policy that will specifically list the tractor and its value (called an inland marine policy). This broadens the coverage to almost anything that could happen to it, including collision and roll-over.
For more information on preventing a roll-over, click this this link from Consumer Reports.
#3: "I have liability on my homeowners policy. Why won't it pay for the injuries for my friend who was on the back of my snowmobile when it crashed?"
As you can probably guess by now, the snowmobile itself would not be covered on the homeowners policy as it is subject to vehicle registration. The liability is also not covered as the policy specifically excludes liability "arising out of the ownership, maintenance, use or loading of motor vehicles or all other motorized land conveyances, including trailers." That said, the company wold also deny a claim for an ATV or similar type land conveyance.
To drill down a bit further, the company may pay a liability claim if the incident occurred "on an insured location," but if you own or use a snowmobile or recreational vehicle we strongly suggest you check with your insurance agent to discuss your personal situation and usage.
Solution: Buy a separate snowmobile/recreational vehicle policy. Depending on the cc's of your "toy" and driving history the price can very reasonable and offers coverage similar to a car insurance policy. You can pick the coverage that fits your needs. Contact HPM Insurance for more information.
#4: "My barn burned down, and now you are telling me that I don't have any coverage for my chickens!"
Many people think of their dogs and cats as part of the family, but when it comes to farm animals, there is generally a different mind-set of coverage expectations. As they are farm animals it may be easier to think of them as property, but regardless, they are still animals. The standard homeowner's policy specifically excludes "animals, birds or fish."
Solution: Check with your vet. There are policies available for animal mortality.
5: "My house was robbed with the thief taking all my jewelery. Now you are saying I can only collect $1000!"
If you are robbed, many of your belongings are covered without specific dollar limitations; however most insurance companies limit the amount of insurance available for certain items that are highly susceptible to theft. The standard, un-endorsed homeowner's policy limits the following items. For a complete list, please refer to your policy.
- $200 for money, bank notes, bullion, gold and silver (other than goldware and silverware), platinum, coins & medals.
- $1,000 on securities, accounts, deeds, evidence of dept, letters of credit, notes other than bank notes, manuscripts, personal records, passports, tickets and stamps.
- $1000 for loss by theft of jewelry, watches, furs, precious and semi-precious stones.
- $2000 for loss by theft of firearms.
- $2500 for loss by theft of silverware, gold ware, etc.
Notice that the cash is limited to any cause of loss, even a fire, while the others are limited by theft.
Solution: There is an endorsement available to increase the limit of cash within the home, while jewelry, firearms and silverware can be scheduled. To protect your securities, deeds, and other important paperwork, put these items in a safety deposit box or fire-proof locked safe.
As I tell my two boys all the time, knowledge is power. Don't find out the hard way that something is not covered. Read your policy and speak to your NH homeowners insurance agent with any questions or concerns you have about your situation. Most coverage limitations have a solution and that can make everyone happy!