Memorial Day officially kicked off summer, the season for outdoor fun in the sun. Here’s what you need to know about how insurance covers summer gear and good times.
Barbecue blowup: Am I covered?
You went the whole 9 yards to impress your neighbors with a state-of-the-art grill. But if Mother Nature strikes –and not only ruins plans for the party that would have given you bragging rights for best BBQ on the block, but also damages your precious new baby –what then?
While your ego will have to wait a bit for your chance at glory, generally damage to the grill is covered as personal property under your standard homeowners insurance policy. The same goes if your grill blows up, or if your grill catches fire.
Help! Someone crashed into my riding mower
You covet the color green. When it comes to your lawn, you spare no expense. Keeping it beautiful, though, requires much work that is best left to a riding mower that costs a small fortune. What if one of your beloved trees crashes on the mower, or somehow a wayward driver hits it?
Again, your homeowners insurance policy comes to your rescue. Home insurance policies generally cover liability and physical damage for riding mowers, with some conditions attached. The mower must be used to care for your residence, must not be driven off the premises and can’t be licensed for road use.
While no special riders are needed, pay attention to any personal property coverage limitations, says Ronda Sloan, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Insurance’s Commissioner’s Office. Typically, coverage for personal property is 50 percent to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you buy for your home’s structure.
Stormy weather: Would a lawn furniture fiasco be covered?
When “chill-axin” in your yard, be sure you’ve got adequate coverage for your spiffy outdoor furniture. What if a hailstorm or high winds damage your lounge gear? No worries here. Your homeowners policy covers you.
The dollar amount of your loss and your deductible should factor into the decision to file a claim. Most homeowners insurance or renters insurance policies carry deductibles that range from $250 to $1,000. If the damaged lawn gear is valued at $2,000 and you have a $500 deductible, a claim might make sense.
Mountain bikes: Here today, gone tomorrow
If your child wipes out on a mountain bike, and he or she is OK, you can be just as relieved that as personal property, any damage to the bike is squared away by your homeowners policy. And, if your child is careless and leaves the bike out for easy picking by thieves — even if it’s stolen from somewhere other than your house — your homeowners policy covers this too, says Sloan.
With all personal property, be sure to keep receipts of purchases and make sure the item is added to the home inventory list that you provide your insurer. If something is particularly expensive, flag it to your insurance company to make sure they are aware of it.
Decks: What’s the deal with insurance?
You’ve decided to finally put build that deck. Don’t forget to let your insurance company know that you’re making an addition. For one thing, it changes the value of your house. Secondly, you want to be sure you’re protected. If the deck is attached to your home, it becomes part of the structure and is covered accordingly.
Contact your agent about any improvements to be sure coverage is adequate. In addition, be mindful of any local building codes, such as the height of railings or space between posts. Get all required permits from the outset.
Is my pool covered by homeowners insurance?
A swimming pool is covered by your homeowners policy. However, the nature of the pool — whether it is an in-ground, attached or above-ground pool impacts how it is covered. If you have a detached pool (not a part of the dwelling or permanently attached to the dwelling), it is considered a “separate structure,” and is subject to different coverage limits than would be the case if the pool was attached to the dwelling, explains Kevin Lynch, an assistant professor of insurance with The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
The design of your pool also impacts your policy, and even your ability to secure or retain coverage. While a slide is usually not something that will cause problems in getting coverage, a number of major insurance carriers will not insure pools with diving boards because they are considered riskier than pools without them.
If you get a pool, you should also get extra liability coverage beyond what is offered in your existing homeowners policy. Pools are fun, but they can also be the source of injury or drowning. If you have $100,000 in liability coverage, you might want to increase that to $300,000 or more.
A big bash in the backyard: check your liability
It could be that your daughter is tying the knot with her beau this summer and you’re expecting about 50 people for an intimate affair. Or maybe you’re hosting your neighborhood association’s festivities in your yard. Talk to your agent about liability concerns, especially if you’ll be serving alcohol. Know that “social liability” is generally covered by your homeowners insurance, but double check with your insurance company to be sure. Social host liability laws vary among states, but most offer an injured person, such as a victim of a drunk driver, a way to sue the person who served alcohol. Criminal charges might also apply.
Usually, home insurance provides some liquor liability coverage, but it’s typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, which may not be enough. Whatever the special occasion, obtaining an umbrella policy is a good idea because it offers higher liability limits.
If you’re planning to rent tents and hire caterers, consider purchasing event insurance in case you need to cancel the event. If you’re using a caterer, get a copy of the certificate of insurance and ask about any coverage limits, says Sloan. You might also want to hire security for out-of-control partygoers.
Your homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for your personal property when you reside temporarily in another residence, so you’re covered while you’re away on a vacation or for another reason. If you’re renting out your home for a short period of time — such as a week or several weekends — some insurance companies may cover such short-term rentals under your homeowners policy. Other companies may require an endorsement to the existing homeowners or renters policy in order to provide insurance coverage.
If you do this on a regular basis, though, it is viewed as a “business.” Therefore, your standard homeowners insurance does not provide coverage for business activities conducted in the home. To be properly covered, you need to purchase a business policy, specifically either a hotel or a bed-and-breakfast policy.
Discuss any liability limits prior to agreeing to a home exchange, says Sloan. For example, find out who pays if your negligence causes a fire. The bottom line: Let your insurance company know what you’re doing.
Read original article by Sheryl Nance-Nash here.
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