Home (and condo) insurance policies include coverage for your personal belongings. Most policy owners are aware of this and, more than likely, are also aware of and request replacement cost protection to be certain covered losses are settled based on the cost new to replace damaged items, rather than factoring in age and depreciation.
What many people may not realize is coverage for their personal belongings is subject to the cause of damages being specifically listed as a covered cause of loss within their policy. The list of causes of loss covered by a home insurance policy is known as the “named perils” and customarily consists of 17 items including:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorm or hail
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage by a vehicle
- Vandalism or malicious mischief
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
- Sudden & accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of a plumbing system
- Sudden & accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current
- Damage by glass or safety glazing material
- Volcanic eruption
When an insurance claim involves personal belongings, under a standard home or condo policy, the insurance company is looking at a similar list of named perils to determine whether there is coverage.
What if a window is left open and rainwater or a sprinkler causes water damage to furniture?
What if someone spills a glass of wine on your couch?
What if youngsters horsing around accidentally knock over an entertainment center breaking the TV & stereo system?
For a modest cost you can upgrade your home or condo insurance policy by purchasing special personal property coverage. This enhancement changes coverage for personal belongings from “named perils” to “all risk”. With this change unless the cause of loss is specifically excluded there is coverage for any damages involving personal belongings.* The list of causes of loss excluded under special personal property coverage is relatively short including losses from intentional damage, wear & tear, mechanical breakdown, and damage from pets and other animals.
* Coverage for personal property may also be subject to special limits of coverage within home and condo insurance policies for certain types of property such as business property, money, jewelry, watercraft, trailers, and motor vehicle accessories. You should always refer to your policy or consult your agent if you have questions regarding coverage limitations or exclusions.