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Does Home Insurance Cover Structural Problems?

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  • Does Home Insurance Cover Structural Problems?

Although you probably don’t think much about your home’s structure, it’s the most integral piece of your house. If something goes wrong, it could spell disaster for not only the integrity of your home, but also your savings if the damage isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

Let’s take a look at how your policy could cover your home’s structure — including things like the floors, foundation, roof, slab and walls — and when your policy will absolutely not foot the bill.

Does Home Insurance Cover Structural Problems?

Homeowners insurance will cover structural problems if the structure of your home was damaged by a covered peril. Under your policy, your home’s structure is defined by anything that provides support, so things like the roof, walls and foundation fall into that category.

Depending on the type of your homeowners policy, your coverage could also kick in if the structural problems were created by a contractor or someone else doing maintenance on your home. However, coverage will never kick in if the structural problems were caused by a lack of maintenance or general wear and tear.

You may also be out of luck if the structural problems persisted over an extended period of time, such as water damage gradually eroding your home’s foundation or termites compromising the integrity of the structure. These problems usually need to be spotted and intervened quickly.

When Structural Problems May Be Covered

As we mentioned earlier, the most commonly covered causes of structural problems are directly related to covered perils. It’s also important to note that structural problems will likely only be covered if the damage was caused suddenly and unexpectedly. Problems that persist over time, or aren’t reported right away, may result in a denied insurance claim.

Although you may have coverage for other instances of damage, the following instances are more than likely to be covered by your homeowners insurance.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters account for a large majority of home insurance claims that relate to property damage. But damage directly relating to them is typically covered by homeowners insurance, except for floods. Floods are the most common natural disaster on earth, and coverage for them requires a separate flood insurance policy.

But some of the more commonly covered forms of natural disasters that cause structural problems are events like hurricanes, tornadoes, hail and snowstorms. Hurricanes and tornadoes can cause the most extensive damage, crumbling homes to the ground and destroying more than just the home’s structure.

So if a hurricane, tornado or windstorm sweeps by your home, ripping off your home’s roof along the way, your insurer will likely pay to repair or replace the roof. However, wind damage constitutes a separate deductible in many hurricane-prone states — deemed a hurricane deductible — that’s based on a percentage of your home’s dwelling coverage.

House Fire

Fire damage to a home’s structure is also one of the most common types of home insurance claims. Fortunately, your homeowners policy should cover your home’s structure — and many issues arising due to the fire — if the house fire was sudden and unexpected.

So if a kitchen fire breaks out, damaging the structural integrity of your kitchen’s walls and ceiling, your insurer will likely pay to repair or replace both the walls and ceiling. If a larger fire breaks out and spreads throughout your home, you should be covered, too.

You should even have coverage if the flames dictate the fire department having to be called and they spray the inside of your home with fire hoses, causing water damage to your belongings.

Labor Incidents

While labor incidents relating to contractors you hire is somewhat of a gray area, you may be covered for any structural damage they create during or after the job. However, you’ll want to check with your insurance agent before they begin to make sure.

In some instances, you may have to add a separate endorsement onto your policy before they begin. Construction or remodeling projects can also qualify as attractive nuisances, which can temporarily increase the cost of your home insurance premiums.

When Structural Problems Aren’t Covered

Not all structural problems to your home are covered, though. Coverage will never kick in if the structural problems arise due to a lack of maintenance on your home and general wear and tear. You also likely won’t be covered if ground movement, such as an earthquake or a sinkhole, were the culprit of the damage.

Depending on where you live and the type of policy you have, wildfires may be excluded from coverage as well. Those living in wildfire-prone states may have to purchase additional coverage. You’ll likely never be covered for structural problems that arise from pests, such as termites or mice, or your own pets.

Also, unless you have a water backup coverage endorsement on your policy, coverage will be excluded due to malfunctioning sump pumps, sewer backup into your home and other water discharges from your home’s drains or sinks.

Where You’re Covered

If your homeowners coverage kicks in for structural damage to your home, more than the structure of your home will enjoy coverage. You may also be covered for affected personal belongings and additional living expenses. Let’s take a look.

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage is the portion of your policy that pays to repair or rebuild the actual structure of your home. That includes your home’s roof, walls, floors, ceiling, doors and many other things that are built into or connected to your home. Things like removable appliances, throw rugs and furniture wouldn’t have coverage under this portion of your policy. 

It’s important that your policy’s dwelling coverage amount matches the value of your home. In case your home is destroyed and needs to be entirely rebuilt, you won’t want to pay anything from your own pocket. There are different types of coverages under the dwelling portion called replacement cost and actual cash value coverage as well.

Personal Property Coverage

As we mentioned earlier, structural problems that affect your personal belongings are covered, too. You’ll receive a reimbursement for the value of your items under your policy’s personal property coverage.

Under this portion, belongings like furniture, clothing, electronics and even appliances are typically covered. For covered claims, you’ll get reimbursed for your items by using their actual cash value or replacement cost.

Loss of Use Coverage

If the covered structural damage to your home forces you to temporarily move out of your house while it’s being repaired, don’t worry. Loss of use coverage is designed to handle that. It helps pay for additional living expenses you wouldn’t have otherwise incurred had you been in your home.

It can reimburse you for things like finding a hotel or rental home of equivalent value, moving expenses, temporary storage fees and even eating out if your hotel doesn’t come equipped with a kitchen.

Common Structural Problems in Houses

Remember that your insurer must deem the structural problems in your house were directly related to a covered peril. But if they do, some of the most common structural problems in houses could be covered.

Those problems that could be covered by your policy are issues with your home’s roof, foundation, slab, walls and floors.

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.