Hands down, one of the most expensive and potentially damaging things to happen to any homeowner is having a liability claim filed against them. Now, most home insurance policies have personal liability coverage to pay for damages, court costs, and more on top of their property coverage. But is it enough? An independent insurance agent can help you find out.
Independent insurance agents can get to know more about you, your home, and how you use it to help answer any questions you have, clarify the differences between policies, and find the right option for you.
Liability Protection Under a Typical Homeowners Insurance Policy
A typical homeowners insurance policy is really a number of separate coverages that generally protect the homeowners family and assets against damage. And because liability extends to various aspects of being a homeowner, liability protection has a number of benefits:
- First, liability protection is included in the policy to avoid damage caused to another individual that happens on your property. For example, if a visitor trips over a broken porch step and breaks their ankle, liability protection can help pay the claimant’s medical bills and any legal expenses if you’re found at fault.
- Second, liability coverage also protects your family members if they're held responsible for damage caused on another person’s property. For example, if your son accidentally throws a baseball and breaks a neighbor’s window, liability coverage will pay for the damage. Similarly, if your dog bites another animal or person, liability coverage can also pay for the damage — which is important considering that dog bites account for over one-third of all home insurance liability claims.
Also, there are a few uncommon occurrences that are also covered by liability insurance:
- If you're accused of libel and slander, your liability policy may provide protection against legal action if you’re found guilty of defamation of character. Food poisoning is also covered by liability coverage if a guest becomes ill or has a food-related allergy to your cooking.
There are exclusions to liability coverage, so be sure to check your homeowners policy for details. Also, intentional acts are not covered by liability coverage, so don’t expect reimbursement if you’re held responsible for pushing someone down the stairs or destroying your neighbor’s garden.
Last, it should be mentioned that liability insurance doesn't have a deductible that you must pay for out of pocket before your insurance company begins paying losses.
Other Protections under a Typical Homeowners Insurance Policy?
On top of liability protection, the following additional coverages are often included in most basic homeowners insurance policies:
|Dwelling coverage||This pays to rebuild or repair the physical structure of your home if it's damaged by a covered peril.|
|Personal property||This provides protection for your personal belongings, whether they are damaged or stolen. Bear in mind that you would have to pay a deductible to make a personal property claim. Also, expensive items like jewelry and electronics may be excluded unless you specify for scheduled coverage.|
|Other structures||This provides coverage for permanent structures that aren't permanently attached to your home, such as a garage or barn.|
|Additional living expense (ALE)||This coverage provides you with compensation up to your coverage limit for additional expenses if you are unable to live in your home due to a covered loss.|
If you want to learn more about how each coverage works, speak with an independent insurance agent. They can help explain the right kind of coverages that apply to your situation and get you started.
How Much Liability Coverage Should I Buy for My Home?
The obvious answer is that you should have as much liability coverage as you can afford. Because we live in a litigious society, lawsuits can be created from minor incidents and from unforeseen circumstances. In short, you should buy enough liability coverage to protect your assets, which is where an umbrella coverage policy is offered by most insurers.
If you’ve been unable to get the coverage that you need, you may be able to increase your liability coverage limits by adding a personal umbrella policy to your policy. While most liability coverage in a basic homeowners policy serves as a safety net, having extra coverage protects you when liability exceeds basic coverage.
And due to the increased risk for potential settlements, many insurers require that you insure both your home and vehicles with them before they'll sell you an umbrella policy. Estimates vary for required coverage, but generally $300,000 of underlying coverage on a homeowners insurance policy and $250,000 of underlying coverage on an auto insurance policy need to be met before you’re able to boost your liability coverage.
But there’s good news: Generally speaking, you can purchase a $1,000,000 umbrella policy for as little as $150 to $300 a year extra in premiums on your homeowners policy. And if you have low risk-factors, such as minimal assets and few amenities like a hot tub, your rates can be lower than high-risk homes, such as those with lakefront views or who live in earthquake-prone areas.
Adding Coverage for Renters
If you have a home that you periodically rent out to guests, you may need to boost your liability coverage. Vacation home rental insurance is usually sold as an additional policy that boosts liability coverage in a similar fashion to adding policy riders or umbrella coverage.
Renters using Airbnb also benefit from included policies. Airbnb currently offers host protection insurance, which “provides primary liability coverage for up to $1,000,000 per occurrence in the event of a third-party claim of bodily injury or property damage related to an Airbnb stay.” While this coverage isn’t primary coverage — that would be on the landlord’s end or through renters insurance — host protection insurance kicks in when primary insurance runs out.
Adding Coverage for Natural Disasters
Most standard homeowners policies do not cover natural disasters, such as an earthquake, flood, or wildfire. For these, separate protections must be purchased as riders or separate policies in order to protect against liability claims. In order to determine the best coverage you need to secure your property, an independent insurance agent can recommend specialized insurers in your region that can offer the best rates and coverage.
How to Find the Best Liability Coverage
Insurance can be complex, and searching through options can be confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating. An independent insurance agent's role is to simplify the process.
When it comes time to purchase insurance or add extra coverage, they’ll break down all the jargon and explain the nitty-gritty so you understand exactly what you're getting.
And should you need to file a claim, you’re not alone. Your agent will be right there to help guide you through every last step and get your life back to where it all was. How great is that?
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Why Online Quotes Aren’t Always the Best Way to Shop
Getting your home insurance quotes online can be tempting. Sure, it’s fast and easy, but are the quotes you are getting actually accurate? And are you getting quotes for all the different types of coverage you need?
Online quotes cannot give you the whole picture. They often omit important coverage, which may result in you being unable to get compensation if something disastrous happens. And they can leave out cost-saving opportunities such as discounts and bundling opportunities that an independent agent can help you take advantage of.
Instead of getting an online quote, find an independent insurance agent near you, and schedule a one-on-one consultation to discuss your options for the best liability coverage for you.
The Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Independent insurance agents have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you. Find an independent insurance agent in your community here.
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