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Which Area of Your Home Is Not Protected by Most Homeowners Insurance?

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Updated: Oct 23, 2023
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While home insurance is meant to provide financial protection against sudden damages to your home, some areas may not be protected against certain perils. Your basement, for instance, is not protected against flooding unless you get additional coverage. Similarly, damages to your home’s foundation after an earthquake may not be covered unless you have earthquake coverage.

By understanding which area of your home is not protected by most homeowners insurance policies, you can fortify your insurance protection against a broader spectrum of risks, ensuring a safer and more secure home.


Which Area Of Your Home Is Not Protected By Most Homeowners Insurance Policies?

Home insurance is primarily designed to cover damages to your home; however, it doesn't extend protection against all types of events, which may leave some areas of your home unprotected. For instance, while it may cover damages to your home's foundation following a fire, home insurance does not cover damages caused by a flood or earthquake.

Understanding the areas of your home that aren't protected by certain perils in most homeowners insurance policies is essential to safeguard yourself from the risks you face most often.

Unprotected Areas of Your Basement

Your basement, being below ground level, is highly susceptible to water damage, mold and the impacts of earthquakes, making it a unique area of concern in homeowners insurance. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage to your basement caused by the following perils:

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    Standard policies often exclude coverage for flooding, which can be a significant issue in basements.

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    Water Damage

    Water seepage or backup from sewers and drains are usually not covered.

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    Mold resulting from prolonged moisture or flooding is typically excluded.

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    Damages from earth movements, often felt intensely in basements, are not covered.

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    Foundation Cracks

    Insurance may not cover foundational issues unless caused by a covered peril.

In the case of finished basements, the coverage gaps can be even more pronounced. A finished basement often represents a significant investment, encompassing structural renovations, furnishings, electronics and sometimes additional living spaces or rental units. These enhancements substantially increase the value and functionality of the space, thereby raising the potential financial loss in the event of damage.

Most standard homeowners insurance may fall short of providing adequate coverage for such extensive damages, especially those caused by water damage or flooding. To protect your extensive investment, you need to understand your policy's limitations and consider additional coverage or endorsements.

Unprotected Areas of Your Roof

Your roof is a primary shield against external elements, but it's prone to age-related wear and tear or neglect, which can lead to significant damage over time that isn't protected by most homeowners insurance policies. If your roof gets damaged due to the following reasons, note most homeowners policies do not provide coverage:

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    Age-Related Wear and Tear

    Insurers often limit or exclude coverage for deterioration due to age.

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    Failure to maintain the roof, leading to leaks or other damages, is usually not covered.

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    Improper Installation

    Damages stemming from poor workmanship or improper installation might be excluded.

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    Specific Materials

    Some policies may have exclusions for certain roofing materials deemed high-risk.

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    Wind and Hail Damage

    In certain areas, wind and hail damage might require additional coverage.

The roof is a crucial component of a home's structural integrity, and inadequate coverage can lead to substantial out-of-pocket expenses for repairs or replacements. It might be worthwhile to consider additional coverage or endorsements that specifically cater to roof-related perils, ensuring that your home remains well-protected from the top down.

Unprotected Areas of Your Home’s Foundations

Your home's foundation is fundamental to its structural integrity. Yet, under most homeowners insurance policies, it's not covered against damages from certain natural disasters. Below are some of the common areas not protected by most home insurance policies:

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    Earth Movement

    Damages from earthquakes, landslides or sinkholes are usually not covered.

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    Flood waters can severely damage foundations, but this peril is usually excluded.

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    Soil Conditions

    Issues arising from expansive or contracting soil may not be covered.

  • Construction Defects

    Faults in construction leading to foundation damage might be excluded.

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    Tree Roots

    Damage from invasive tree roots may not be covered.

Lack of coverage for foundation-related perils can lead to hefty financial burdens. It's advisable to explore additional coverage options like earthquake or flood insurance.

Unprotected Areas of Your Garage (Attached and Detached)

Your garage, whether attached or detached, houses valuable items and vehicles, yet its coverage under standard homeowners insurance may have specific limitations or exclusions. It's essential to understand that attached garages are typically covered under your dwelling coverage, otherwise known as coverage A, as they are considered part of the house's structure, while detached garages fall under other structures coverage or coverage B.

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    Some policies might have limited coverage for theft from garages, especially detached ones. Items stolen from a detached garage may not be covered to the same extent as those stolen from within the main house.

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    Damage from vandalism may be subject to certain limitations. It's essential to check whether your policy covers vandalism and to what extent, as detached garages might have different coverage limits.

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    Structural Damage

    Coverage may vary for structural damage, particularly in detached garages. The cause of damage (e.g., storm, tree fall) may also affect the coverage.

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    While attached garages are often covered for fire damage; detached ones may require additional coverage. The proximity to the main house could impact the extent of coverage.

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    Vehicle Damage

    Standard homeowners insurance usually does not cover damage to vehicles stored in the garage. Separate auto insurance would be necessary for such coverage.

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    Pest Infestation

    Damage caused by pests like rodents or insects might not be covered by standard policies, mainly due to maintenance neglect.

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    Water Damage

    Like basements, garages are prone to water damage. Still, coverage for this peril may be limited or excluded, particularly in detached garages.

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    Electrical Wiring Issues

    Damages arising from outdated or faulty electrical wiring in the garage might not be covered, especially if it's deemed a maintenance issue.

Whether your garage is attached or detached can significantly impact the extent of coverage provided under your homeowners insurance. Understanding the differences between dwelling coverage and other structures coverage and reviewing your policy to ensure adequate protection for both types of garages is crucial. It's advisable to consider additional insurance or endorsements to bridge any coverage gaps, ensuring the protection of your valuable assets.

Unprotected Areas of Your Backyard and Outdoor Structures

Although part of your property, your backyard and outdoor structures like sheds, fences and gazebos often have limited coverage under standard homeowners insurance policies. Outdoor structures fall under the other structures coverage of your home insurance policy, which is usually only a portion of your dwelling coverage. For instance, it's common for a policy's other structure limits to be about 10% of the amount of your dwelling coverage.

Most policies do not cover the following areas:

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    Vandalism and Theft

    These may not be fully covered, especially if high-value items are stored in outdoor structures.

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    Storm Damage

    Damage from severe weather may be partially covered, depending on the policy.

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    Fires can cause extensive damage, but coverage limits may apply.

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    Tree Damage

    Damage from falling trees may be covered, but removal of fallen trees may not.

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    Flood and Water Damage

    Typically excluded from standard policies.

Besides the structural coverage, liability issues also arise in backyards, especially with features like pools, trampolines and other recreational installations. These features can increase the likelihood of accidents, potentially leading to medical or legal expenses. It's advisable to understand the extent of liability coverage provided by your homeowners insurance and consider additional liability coverage or umbrella policies to ensure adequate protection against the myriad of risks associated with backyard and outdoor structures.

What Areas Are Protected in Home Insurance?

Home insurance primarily provides financial protection against damages to your home and personal property, along with liability coverage for accidents that may occur on your premises. It is pivotal in protecting your investment and ensuring peace of mind. Here are the typical coverages involved:

  • Dwelling Coverage: This is the core of homeowners insurance, covering damages to the physical structure of your home from perils like fire, wind or vandalism. For instance, if a tree falls on your roof during a storm, dwelling coverage would help pay for repairs.

  • Other Structures Coverage: This extends protection to structures not attached to your main dwelling, like a detached garage or a shed. For example, if your detached garage is damaged in a fire, this coverage would help with the repair costs.

  • Personal Property Coverage: This covers the loss or damage of personal belongings within your home, like furniture, electronics and clothing. For instance, if a burglary occurs and your electronics are stolen, personal property coverage would help replace these items.

  • Liability Coverage: Provides protection if you or members of your household are found legally responsible for injuries to others or damage to their property. For example, if someone slips and falls on your icy driveway and decides to sue, liability coverage can help with legal costs.

  • Medical Payments Coverage: This is designed to cover medical expenses for guests who are injured on your property, regardless of who is at fault. For instance, if a friend cuts their hand while helping you in the kitchen, this coverage can help with their medical bills.

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In home insurance, only specific perils are typically covered under a standard policy, leaving other potential risks uninsured unless additional coverage is obtained. Here’s a list of perils commonly covered:

  • Vandalism or malicious mischief
  • Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
  • Frozen home appliances and systems such as plumbing or heating
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Theft
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Falling objects
  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
  • Explosion
  • Smoke
  • Fire or lightning
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet

About Mark Fitzpatrick

Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content director at MoneyGeek with over five years of experience analyzing the insurance market, conducting original research and creating content that can be personalized for every buyer. He has been quoted on insurance topics in several publications, including CNBC, NBC News and Mashable.

Mark earned a master’s degree in Economics and International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. He is passionate about using his economics and insurance knowledge to bring transparency around financial topics and help others feel confident in their money moves.