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Home Owner Insurance Policy Coverage Issues

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.

Today’s question comes from a caller who asked “we had a sewer back up and I thought we had full coverage on our homeowner’s policy, but the insurance company says no, and is denying the claim, how can we in the future avoid the traps insurance companies set?”

The caller is definitely right, homeowner insurance policies often contain little traps that can affect your coverage BIG TIME if you’re not careful.

In the callers case, there was water damage coverage for a natural occurrence, like too much rain, but the sewer backup was due to the homeowners failure to repair a drain that they knew about for years and was due to lack of home maintenance and was excluded. In a way this makes sense, most insurance companies won’t let you insure you house for water damage, and then open all the windows in a rain storm, and expect the company to buy you all new furniture under the insurance policy. Expecting you to protect your own property is not really an insurance trap though. So, what do we mean by a trap?

A common trap (an unexpected provision in a policy) pops up to bite, when people leave their property vacant for an extended period of time. For example, if you own a home here in Indiana, and you go to Florida for four months, your home is vacant for a ¼ of a year. If you have a clause in your insurance coverage that excludes coverage for damage if the house is left vacant for more than thirty days, and you didn’t know about that clause, you will be very upset if your claim for storm damage is denied.

There are ways to pay additional premiums to make sure your house is covered during that time period that it might be vacant, and some policies don’t even have the exclusion.

But it is worth checking your policy because you certainly don’t want to have a fire loss or other damage that is not covered simply because you took an extended vacation to Arizona and left your home unoccupied.

Other traps can bite if you lack an understanding of whether your policy covers claims made, or occurrences. An occurrence policy covers claims resulting from an event that occurs during the policy term. Coverage depends on the timing of the event. A claims-made policy covers claims that are made during the policy period. In this type of policy, coverage depends on the timing of the claim.

So, everyone, check your policies please. Read the policy. Ask your agent to explain the policy to you. Make sure you have the kind of coverage that you need.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”.