Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 things your homeowners insurance DOESN'T cover

Surprise: Here are 10 things a typical homeowners policy doesn't cover:
  • Damage due to animals or rodents.
  • Mold, mildew or dry rot.
  • Earthquakes -- including earth movement, landslides, etc.
  • Slow leaks.
  • Flooding: You have to buy a separate flood insurance policy to be covered for floods, tidal surges and tsunamis.
  • Intentional damage.
  • Foundation settling and cracking.
  • Volcanoes: Damage from tremors caused by the eruption generally isn't covered, but removal of ash deposits -- or damage from them -- often are covered.
  • A home business: If you operate a home-based business, you might be uninsured and not even realize it. Your homeowners policy may provide a limited amount of coverage for business-related personal property in the home, but don't wait until you have a loss to find out if you're covered. Talk to your agent.
  • A second residence on the property: Most homeowner policies don't cover a second residence.
Here, on the other hand, is a list of what is covered under a typical homeowners policy.

Need help with insurance problems?

If you live in Washington state, we can help with insurance questions and problems. (We're the state agency that regulates insurers, agents and brokers. We get tens of thousands of calls a year from consumers.)

What kind of help? Here are a few examples of recent cases we've handled:

-We helped a dentist get paid when one insurer didn't process a claim because it didn't have the medical codes from the primary insurer. We looked up the codes (on the primary insurer's website; not so hard), provided them, and passed along a friendly reminder about the legal requirements for timely claims processing. The insurer processed the claim the next day.

-We helped another consumer get a life insurer to pay out the proceeds -- more than $250,000 -- on his mother's annuity policy.

-We helped a consumer after an insurer found him 100 percent at fault for an accident. We reviewed their investigation and discovered that they'd failed to get statements from key players (the other driver, for one, and a police officer witness who happened to be sitting beside the road when the accident occurred).  We asked the company to contact the two. Result: they reversed their decision, finding the other driver 100 percent at fault for the accident.

-We helped a homeowner expedite and settle a disputed home repair claim for more than $145,000.

Need help? Call us at 1-800-562-6900 or see http://www.insurance.wa.gov/.

(And if you live in another state, here's a handy map with contact info for your own state's insurance regulator.)