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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Personal Injury?

By Jarrod Heil

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Injuries happen. They’re just a fact of life. While we hope nobody ever gets injured, that’s simply incomprehensible to think. Life tends to throw curveballs your way when you least expect it, so the sun will rise, people will get injured and life will go on.

But what happens if that injury hits home — and occurs on or off your property. Let’s take a look at a few different scenarios when your homeowners insurance can have your back when someone gets injured.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Personal Injury?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers you for personal injury in several scenarios, including when someone is injured on your property — whether you’re found liable or not — and if your dog bites someone on or off your property. Your policy has two coverage types designed to protect against personal injury: liability and medical payments to others.

However, the injury must occur to someone who’s not on your policy and who doesn’t live at the property for your coverage to kick in. In those cases, your homeowners insurance could actually cover medical bills for the person, as well as legal expenses if they decide to sue you. But let’s take a deeper dive into what is and isn’t covered.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is what’s used if someone is injured on your property and you’re found liable for those injuries. Whether they fell down the stairs that had exposed flaws, injured themselves on the trampoline you have in the backyard or were injured in another way on your property, your policy’s liability coverage is designed to pay for their medical bills (and legal expenses if they sue you) up to your policy’s maximum limit.

Standard homeowners policies come equipped with $100,000 in liability coverage, but you can typically add up to $500,000 in coverage with your insurer before you must invest in umbrella insurance to get more.

For many people, $100,00 in liability coverage may be enough. However, there are certain scenarios when you should definitely invest in more coverage. If you have a pool, trampoline or another attractive nuisance on your property, you should opt for at least $250,000 in coverage — and may want to get more.

Attractive nuisances are things located on your property that can be hazardous to children who don’t yet know how dangerous they can be. For instance, if someone passes by your property and decides to sneak a jump on your trampoline, injuring themselves in the process, you can actually be held liable for their injuries if they’re young enough.

Additionally, individuals with high net worths should invest in more liability coverage because they have more to lose if they were sued by someone who was injured. High-net-worth individuals can get umbrella insurance on top of their current liability coverage.

Umbrella insurance gives you $1 million in liability coverage and can be added in increments of $500,000 to $1 million on top of that. So you could potentially have a few million dollars in umbrella liability coverage if you have a few million sitting in the bank. This would help if someone sues you for damages that exceed the standard limits (usually $500,000) of homeowners policies.

Medical Payments to Others Coverage

Medical payments to others coverage also covers personal injuries to others. But unlike liability coverage, it can be used to pay for medical bills if an injury occurs on your property — whether you’re found liable or not.

It has much lower limits, typically maxing out at $1,000 to $5,000 per claim. You’d still have to pay your deductible for coverage to kick in, so it could be more beneficial to pay out of pocket. Obviously, if you’re not liable for an injury to another person, you probably don’t want to file a claim with your insurer because it may raise your rates.

But just in case you need to, whether the injured party doesn’t have health insurance or you’re just trying to be nice, medical payments to others only covers minor medical bills (like X-rays, physical therapy and follow-up doctor visits) and won’t pay for any legal expenses if the other party sues you.

Injuries on Your Property When You’re Liable

If someone is injured on your property and you’re found liable, your homeowners insurance will help to pay for their medical bills up to your policy’s maximum. Depending on the nature of the injury, you could either use your policy’s liability or medical payments to others coverage.

If the injury is substantial, your liability coverage will come into play. If you have $100,000 in coverage, their medical bills quickly add up to $30,000 and they turn around to sue you, racking up $40,000 in legal fees, that $70,000 would be covered by your liability policy if it’s a qualifying claim.

However, injuries involving an accidental death or permanent injury for life could quickly add up. So having a pool or another attractive nuisance on your property should make you want to get at least $500,000 in liability coverage just to be safe.

But if the injury is minor, involving a quick trip to the emergency room and a few follow-up doctor visits, your policy’s medical payments to others coverage will likely kick in because the injury likely wouldn’t result in more than the standard $5,000 limit.

Injuries on Your Property When You’re Not Liable

If someone is injured on your property and you’re not found liable, only your policy’s medical payments to others coverage would kick in and pay for their medical bills up to your policy’s maximum. However, you may want to consider not filing a claim against your insurer because it will likely increase your premiums.

Every claim you submit gets put on your record, and is compiled in your comprehensive loss underwriting report by LexisNexis. The more claims you file, the riskier you are to insurers. If they take you on as a policyholder, they’ll likely make you pay more for coverage to offset the risk of you filing a claim that sees them paying you money.

Injuries off Your Property When You’re Liable

The only injuries off your property that may be covered by your homeowners insurance are those that involve your dog. For instance, if your dog bites someone and causes major injuries, your policy’s liability coverage would kick in and pay for those injuries and any legal expenses if the person who’s bit decides to sue you.

You must add your dog to your homeowners insurance policy to receive coverage. If you don’t add your dog, you’re basically not reporting a potential risk to your insurer, which can result in them dropping your coverage without notice. Some breeds are restricted by insurers, so you may not be able to get coverage if your dog falls into a certain category of restricted dog breeds.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Injury to the Homeowner?

Unfortunately, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover injuries to the homeowner, anyone who’s covered on the policy or anyone who lives at the address the policy is registered to. If one of those parties were to be injured on the property, or bitten by a dog that lives on the property, they would have to utilize their own health insurance or pay out of pocket for any related expenses they incur.

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