If My Home Is Burglarized But I Forgot to Lock the Door, Who’s Responsible?

(Plus how the right coverage will protect you from your own disasters)

Burgled while unlocked

As a proud homeowner, you take every precaution to protect and defend your home. But even the most responsible homeowners can still make mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes end up being costly in more ways than one. So what happens if your home is burglarized after you forgot to lock the door? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Luckily an independent insurance agent can not only answer this question for you, but also help you get set up with the right coverage. Independent insurance agents are experienced in handling all kinds of catastrophes, so they know exactly what kind of protection you need, and they’ll get you covered long before you ever need to file a claim. Here’s how they’d help you get coverage against your home being burglarized if you forgot to lock the door.

Who’s Responsible if My Home Gets Burglarized But I Forgot to Lock the Door?

Well, even though you weren’t exactly inviting the burglar in, from an insurance standpoint, you as the homeowner would still have to file a claim through your own policy. Further, oftentimes in the event of a burglary, the intruder is never identified or caught. Unless your home is equipped with some high-tech security cameras, you may not get the chance to ever confront or press charges against the burglar. Luckily, your own insurance would still help you to recover.

Which Insurance Would Protect Me in this Scenario?

Fortunately your homeowners insurance policy would protect you in the event of a burglary, regardless of whether your door was locked or not. Standard homeowners policies provide lots of basic but important protections for homeowners, and these coverages would be critical after a break-in/robbery. That’s why it’s so important to work with your independent insurance agent to get set up with the right coverage long before you ever find yourself needing it.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance protects homeowners in a myriad of ways, including from horrific incidents such as getting burglarized. The four major coverage areas provided by standard homeowners policies include:

  • Structural damage: Covers the “dwelling,” or structure of the home. Damage to/destruction of the dwelling is covered against listed perils, including burglary. If you left the door unlocked, the burglar might not have had to damage your property on the way in, but it’s still important to have this coverage just in case.
  • Personal property damage: Covers personal belongings like furniture, collectibles, clothing, and more from incidents like burglary. Property stored off-premises is often covered too, though with a much lower limit.
  • Additional living expenses: Covers extra costs if your home gets badly damaged or destroyed and forces you to live elsewhere temporarily. Reimbursement for things like hotel rooms, eating out, extra gas mileage, and more is covered. You may not need this following a burglary, but more likely after a harsh natural disaster, for example.
  • Liability: Covers legal expenses like attorney/court fees if you’re sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party. Settlements you’re ordered to pay if you lose the case are covered, too.

Your independent insurance agent can get you set up with the right homeowners insurance to protect you against all your areas of concern, not just burglaries.

Would Liability Coverage Be Important in This Scenario?

Let’s say you were able to identify and catch the guy who broke into your home (or walked in through the unlocked door). You might choose to press charges against them for trespassing on your property and robbing you. In this scenario, the intruder’s homeowners insurance policy would respond to you pressing the charges, and their liability coverage would kick in to reimburse them for the fees.

Now here’s an interesting twist. If the intruder got injured on your property, even though they were trespassing, they could actually choose to sue you. Though that sounds ridiculous, it could really happen, and luckily your homeowners insurance would kick in and come to your defense. As long as you didn’t purposefully set a trap for the intruder like in Home Alone, your policy would cover you from a legal standpoint.

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What if I, or the Burglar, Don’t Have Insurance?

If you’re lacking homeowners insurance, you would be left to pay for all the expenses out of your own pocket. This would include fees for repairing any damage to your house and property, replacing your personal property on your own, and covering any legal expenses that may apply by yourself, too. If the burglary was particularly bad, you could stand to lose a lot of money without adequate coverage.

If the burglar was lacking homeowners or other liability coverage and you sued them, they’d be left to pay the legal fees on their own. Depending on the extent of the charges, they might be faced with handing over a large chunk of their own money. Either of you could potentially face bankruptcy, in the worst case scenario.

It’s extremely important to have property and liability coverage at all times. Hopefully this hypothetical scenario will help inspire you to contact your independent insurance agent to make sure you’re set up with adequate homeowners insurance, and also to make sure you keep your doors locked.

Do I Need Umbrella Insurance?

In this case, you probably wouldn’t, unless you have a luxury estate and a lot of really expensive personal property that gets stolen or damaged. Umbrella insurance is essentially excess liability coverage which increases the limits provided by your homeowners policy. Typically umbrella policies come with limits of $1 million in liability coverage, but some folks even purchase $5 or $10 million worth of coverage. Umbrella insurance tends to be highly affordable, too.

When Would I Really Need Umbrella Coverage?

Though a minor burglary may not warrant umbrella coverage, there are plenty of common scenarios homeowners face that would. A few of the most common pricey lawsuits against homeowners include the following:

  • Fallen trees: If a tree on your property falls and damages your neighbor’s home, the resulting damages could easily reach into the ten-thousands.
  • Intoxicated guests: If one of your parties gets a little too rowdy, you as the homeowner would be held responsible for any property damage or bodily injuries an intoxicated guest causes to other guests.
  • Hired help injuries: If a domestic worker, such as a maid or gardener, gets injured on your property due to your failure to maintain a safe premises, the resulting lawsuit and medical payments required could be really expensive.
  • Dog bites: Dog bites are among the most common and costly risks homeowners have to prepare for. Especially since settlements for dog bite injuries average $30,000.
  • Icy sidewalk injuries: Not everyone’s legally required to maintain their sidewalk based on local ordinances, but injuries on icy sidewalks are a common case filed against homeowners.

Umbrella coverage is crucial to protect against these extremely costly scenarios. Your independent insurance agent can help you determine whether or not umbrella insurance is a smart choice for you.

How Else Does My Homeowners Insurance Protect Me?

While burglaries are traumatizing enough, unfortunately they’re not the only threat to homeowners. Homeowners insurance policies cover many common perils that homeowners across the map face in their daily lives.

Homeowners insurance covers the following perils:

  • Aircraft or vehicle damage
  • Most explosions
  • Riots and civil commotions
  • Falling objects (and trees)
  • Many natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)
  • Fire and smoke
  • Water damage
  • Theft and vandalism

Work with your independent insurance agent to review your homeowners insurance policy to make sure you’ve got all the coverage you need, long before you need it. They’ll be able to help you add additional coverage to patch any holes of concern and help you rest easy in your home.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting your home against burglaries and all other bizarre incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners, liability, and umbrella insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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