Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Debris Removal?

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  • Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Debris Removal?

If you’ve suffered property damage, you’re likely relying on your insurance company to cover the damage. Depending on the type of damage you’ve suffered, debris and wreckage could litter your property.

Most insurance companies will cover getting rid of the debris as part of the remediation process. Keep reading to learn when and how homeowners insurance covers debris removal.

Does Homeowners Insurance Have Debris Removal?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers debris removal. Your insurance company will typically include the costs to remove debris when remediating damage to your house after a covered loss. If it doesn’t fall under your policy limits by default, many insurers will add a percentage to cover debris removal. Alternatively, some companies set aside a fixed dollar amount for debris removal coverage.

Debris removal insurance coverage is a part of most homeowners insurance policies. You can often find it under your policy’s “additional coverages” section. 

Debris removal coverage is usually included in plans by default and you don’t have to pay any extra for it. The “additional coverages” section it falls under is a part of your plan that describes coverages that fall outside of the named property and liability coverages.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Debris Removal?

The primary instance when your homeowners insurance covers debris removal occurs after damage from a covered peril. When a peril leaves behind wreckage, your insurance company will clean it up as part of repairs. Your provider will also remove any trash or waste they create during reconstruction.

A standard home insurance plan covers your property from over a dozen potential sources of damage, called perils. The most common perils are fires, high winds (such as hurricanes and tornadoes), and water damage, like burst pipes and leaks. 

It’s easy to see how these perils could leave debris in their wake. If removing this debris is necessary to restore a property to its pre-loss condition, your insurance company will cover it. In their policies, most insurers state that they will “pay your reasonable expense for the removal of debris of covered property if a Peril Insured Against that applies to the damaged property causes the loss.”

In other words, as long as a covered peril caused the debris, your provider should cover its associated costs.

Normally, you shouldn’t have to cover debris removal costs upfront and be reimbursed by your provider later. Your insurer should cover the costs as part of their cleanup or repairs.

Insurers also typically include separate provisions for removing fallen trees due to windstorms or the weight of ice and snow. This can include a neighbor’s tree falling onto your property. One of these can cause an insurance claim on its own. 

How Much Is Covered Under Debris Removal Limits?

Policies cap the amount of debris removal coverage you have. It’s typically up to 5% more than your damaged property limit. However, some companies may instead have a fixed dollar amount of debris removal coverage.

Normally, your insurance company will include debris removal costs under the property coverage that the debris applies to. For a simplified example, let’s say your dwelling coverage was $200,000. Your home gets damaged by a fire. If your provider successfully repairs your house for $100,000, you’ve got $100,000 of coverage that isn’t getting used. Debris removal will be a part of this $100,000.

But, let’s say the fire completely destroyed your home. Your insurer uses all $200,000 of your coverage to rebuild your house. With the common 5% additional debris removal coverage limit, your insurer can allocate up to $10,000 to remove debris during your property repairs.

Suppose your policy instead has a fixed dollar amount of debris removal insurance coverage. In that case, your provider will cover expenses up to that number, often in the thousands. 

Commercial policies often have a debris removal limit of up to 25% of their applicable coverage limits, but this is uncommon in residential plans.

If you want additional debris removal insurance, you can ask your provider or agent about it. Most homeowners policies should have sufficient coverage. This course of action is more common for commercial plans.

Debris Removal Limits for Miscellaneous Incidents

For isolated fallen tree incidents, policies often have $500 or $1,000 limits. Keep in mind that the damage would have to exceed your deductible to be eligible for reimbursement by your provider. 

Your provider will also cover debris from a volcanic eruption. Ash, dust, or particles from a volcano are often mentioned explicitly in policies. Your insurance should cover damage from a volcanic eruption’s ash or soot.

You may also want to know that after a widespread disaster, some communities may offer debris removal programs on a city or county level through the local government.

These programs are usually offered at no cost to a homeowner and are backed by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or other grant money. For instance, many places in California offered such programs after widespread wildfires a few years ago.

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

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