The catch-all question when it comes to any insurance policy is ‘what am I covered for?’ Anything that you can insure comes with its own grey areas. The main issue of wear and tear is one that crops up time and time again in the home insurance world.
● So, does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wear and Tear?
● Examples of Wear and Tear
● Other Perils NOT Covered by Home Insurance
● Preparing for Wear and Tear
So, Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wear and Tear?
No matter where you are or who you buy home insurance from, it’s unlikely to cover signs of wear and tear. It’s a reasonable question to ask ‘why not?’, and the answer lies in how ‘wear and tear’ is legally defined.
Home insurance is designed to cover you for freak or unexpected occurrences. These may include storm damage, fire, or theft. Wear and tear isn’t included, as it explains what naturally happens to things over time.
Everything ages and very few things improve as they grow older. Home insurance will likely cover a broken window caused by a vandal. However, the same broken window caused by a homeowner not treating the wooden frame correctly will not. The latter is deemed to be a homeowner’s responsibility, as damage caused is down to wear and tear, not a freak or unexpected occurrence.
Examples of Wear and Tear
The whole fair wear and tear/damage debate can be a confusing one for anyone paying homeowners’ insurance. In short, it may be defined as faults caused by poor upkeep or natural damage.
If you’re unsure as to whether a claim can be made on a damaged part of your home or its contents, consider whether the same damage would occur if that part was brand new and in perfect condition. If the answer is ‘yes’, then you’ll likely be able to make a damage claim. If not, it’s probably down to natural wear and tear, which your policy won’t cover.
Fair wear and tear can affect hundreds of items. Homeowners should be mindful when it comes to treating wood against rot, bug infestation, and water damage. Metal pipes must be treated against rust, and holes in roofs must be filled BEFORE any water damage occurs. All home equipment requires proper maintenance to the best of your ability.
Other Perils NOT Covered by Home Insurance
This list is not intended to be exhaustive but offers a few items that homeowners may reasonably assume are covered by their policy:
With a home insurance policy, you cannot insure your car for damage or theft. This still stands if your car is in a locked garage at home. For this, you’ll need separate vehicle insurance. Should a worst-case scenario ensue and your vehicle is stolen from your locked garage, home insurance alone would only cover the reasonable cost of repairs to the door and locks.
A home insurance policy CAN cover outbuildings such as a shed, summer house, or garage. However, you’ll need to ensure they are maintained and boast the same levels of security as the main building in your home. If you’re thinking of storing any valuables in an outbuilding, it’s best to double-check that they’ll be covered in the event of natural damage or a break-in.
● High-Value Items
A home insurance policy can also cover high-value items, but only if specified before agreeing on a deal. If you have any expensive jewellery, artworks, or other collectables, notify your insurer. These items may require an additional premium to insure and extra care on your behalf to protect them against wear and tear.
● Deliberate Damage
As a general rule, home insurance won’t cover you against damage caused by yourself or someone living in your home. It should cover most incidents like break-ins or weather damage, but your insurer won’t pay for a ruined painting caused by a lovers’ tiff. Property fraud costs the US alone $45 billion a year – monies that are passed on to those taking out insurance – so it genuinely pays, to be honest, should you ever need to make a claim.
Another grey area for claimants is related to contents. See our post on Does Home Insurance Cover My Personal Belongings? for more information.
Preparing for Wear and Tear
So, how to guard against wear and tear whilst getting the most from a home insurance policy? First up, get to know any policy on intimate terms prior to signing on the dotted line. If anything is unclear, ask your insurer. Smooth out any definition concerns you have between wear and tear and genuine damage so you are fully aware of your rights.
Secondly, look into cause and effect. Your policy may clearly state that you’re protected against water damage. But, a closer look may reveal that compensation will only be paid under certain circumstances. If a storm damages a window that’s already in poor condition due to wear and tear, you’re unlikely to receive the same payout as a damaged window that’s been well-maintained.
Thirdly, keep on top of property maintenance, as well as that of your possessions. So far as we know, nothing lasts forever, but looking after items can greatly increase their longevity.
Finally, you may be able to ascertain other types of insurance to cover issues that your home policy does not. For instance, a home policy may cover water pipes inside the home, but not property damage from those running into your home from the street outside. An additional premium may be available to cover such an eventuality.
Get the lowdown on policy coverage with our article on Understanding the Factors that Impact Home Insurance Cost.
The issue of wear and tear with regard to home insurance has confused many a claimant, so it pays to understand the difference between natural ageing and actual damage. Home insurance policies are intended to cover you against unexpected occurrences, not those that could be avoided due to careful maintenance from the policyholder.
Begin your own search for the right plan by looking through our clear and transparent benefits on our home insurance page.
GasanMamo Insurance is authorised under the Insurance Business Act and regulated by the MFSA.