Homeowners Insurance Nightmares: Not Everything is Covered

June 11, 2014

You may or may not have read recently about the poor woman whose condo was damaged by an exploding corpse in the unit above hers. (I will save you the details and leave you to read on your own here if you prefer.)

Long story short, the insurance company wanted nothing to do with helping her with the damages. After all, exploding corpses are not covered under her policy. Not that I think you could prepare for or expect something like that in any way, but I'm sure the story made people start to wonder.

What else isn’t covered by my homeowners insurance? What else can go wrong that I inadvertently think would be covered?

Here are a few things that might be obvious but might not to the average homeowner. Here’s a little hint, though -- if there is a nuclear war, you are paying for that rebuild on your own.

Flooding: When your policy says “water damage,” it is referring to situations like plumbing emergencies -- it doesn't cover flooding.  For some options for flood insurance you can go here. This basically will cover water damage and not much else. For some of the more emergent situations FEMA ends up coming in and helping out financially.

Earthquakes: Believe it or not, we do get earthquakes here. Our state is on a fault line and some would argue that fracking may be to blame for more. So what do you do if you want your home to be covered? You get an addendum to your policy that covers earthquakes. However, let’s say your bathroom catches on fire from being affected by the earthquake that you aren’t covered for, then that should be covered under the normal policy for fire.

War, nuclear hazard, or terrorism: Unfortunately, your house being blown away in one of these scenarios may not your biggest problem. Your biggest problem is that the insurance company won’t cover it. So if you are fortunate enough not to lose your life in one of these cases, you will have to deal with a fight with the insurance company to get your life back in order. However, if there is just vandalism, riots, or civil unrest, you are good to go -- they will lend you a hand.

Trampoline and treehouse injuries: Let’s be honest, a trampoline should really be nicknamed, “The place I broke my (blank).” Considering the death, or at least injury, trap that trampolines are, your insurance company won’t be covering anything that comes out of it. By the same token, SOME treehouses are built to take on a nuclear war (like the one my dad built), but you can’t account for how creative kids can be while climbing on or in said treehouses. I can't count the number of times I have screamed at my kids, “Get off the railing!” To me, this seems logical. To a 6-year-old boy, it’s adventure. The insurance company wants nothing to do with the adventure. Moral of the story is jump or climb at your own risk -- their hands are clean.

Death or injury from pools: As with the first two items, a pool is something that you are going to have to pay extra for. Pools can be dangerous for anyone, especially children and pets. Yes I said pets. I worked in emergency vet medicine long enough to decide that as long as I own dogs, I will not have a pool. Not to mention having a 6-year-old boy that listens about as well as he can recite Shakespeare. Granted, the latter will grow up and learn to enjoy a pool but I’m going to simply take him to the pool rather than have to take care of one myself. Keep in mind, while you can get extra coverage for a pool, having a diving board or slide may result in denial of coverage. Do your research before getting a pool or anything that may go along with it.

Food: I would never think of asking for this but in times of a power outage, you can lose a good amount of food if it’s out for a long time. What if you just spent $200 at the grocery store? What then? Sorry, not covered.

Have you had a homeowners insurance nightmare where you thought you'd be covered for something but weren't? Share your story in the comments section!