Understanding what is covered on your insurance policy before a loss happens helps you know how to be proactive. Preventative maintenance is an expected responsibility on the insured. This is true for auto and home insurance. Let’s take a look at some examples of each.
Examples of expected maintenance for vehicles
Suppose you have a warning light on indicating you need a new belt. Ironically, you’re rear-ended the same week the warning light is present in the vehicle. The insurance will pay to repair the damage to the rear of your vehicle that was covered by the collision, but they will not replace the old belt. The belt has worn down by regular use, and is not due to the accident.
Tires and belts are not excluded from the policy. However, the reason for loss is the deciding factor. Vehicles need regular maintance to be driven. Maintenance is not covered under the purchase of auto insurance. If your vehicle is involved in an accident that damages your tire or belt, then both of these are covered losses at that point.
Examples of homeowner’s maintenance scenarios
Tree limbs have fallen on several homes causing damage. In some instances the loss is covered and in others, it’s not. An example of a loss that is not covered by your home insurance would be as follows.
You decide to cut down a tree yourself and thought it would fall one way, but it fell on your home instead. You cannot be liable to yourself, therefore, your insurance does not cover the damage. Likewise, if you hire someone to cut down your tree, their business is liable if the tree falls on your roof and would be responsible to cover the repairs.
If the tree is rotting and needing to be removed, this is a maintance issue. The insured is expected to take proper care of protecting their home. Storm damage is often a covered loss. However, if a tree that has been rotting for years falls on your house, there would not be coverage because it should have been removed. In the instance that a healthy tree is randomly knocked over due to a terrible storm, the insurance would pay for the damage.
Another common homeowner’s maintenance area of concern in your crawlspace or basement. It is the insured’s responsibilty to keep it sealed and a water barrier in place if one is needed. If rodents get in because the crawlspace has openings that are not sealed off and do damage, the loss is not covered. Likewise, if a dehumidifier is used and stopped working when it should have been replaced leaving behind water damage, the loss is not covered. Keeping the dehumidier in working condition is the responsibility of the insured.
In the event that the dehumidifier is struck by lightening and shorts out, then the insurance does kick in to repair the unit and water damage caused.
Never hesitate to ask your agent before filing a claim
If you have a question about a potential loss being covered, it’s always best to call your agent. Start by talking through what happened so you can make an informed decision. And always keep in mind that your total damages need to be above your deductible before insurance will pay. Getting an estimate in hand is also a good idea before actually filing the claim.