Homeowners’ insurance is good for more than flooded basements, lightning strikes and that ever-elusive peace of mind. While you shouldn’t file a claim every time something goes a little wrong, comprehensive policies cover some surprising losses.
If Rover attacks your neighbours’ chihuahua at the block party or jumps over the fence and bites the mail carrier, you could be held liable for medical costs and lost income. Most standard policies come with $1 million in liability insurance, but depending on your dog’s breed and size, you might want to buy extra coverage. Note that if Rover is considered a dangerous breed or has attacked in the past, your insurance provider may charge higher premiums or deny dog bite coverage all together.
Saskatchewan General Insurance’s home policies, for example, include legal expense insurance. If you face contract, property, tax or employment disputes, you can get free legal advice from a telephone helpline. If that’s not enough to solve your problem, your policy would cover either up to $100,000 of legal services per claim, though you often have to work with a lawyer chosen by your insurer.
Junior’s dorm room disasters
If your child is a full-time student, their possessions in residence are often covered by your home policy. Limits typically range from $5,000 to $10,000, including laptops, textbooks and furniture. Once Junior is no longer considered a dependent—either when they graduate or are no longer in your care—they’ll need to get their own insurance.
Mom’s nursing home mishaps
Your parents are also covered by your home insurance if they’re dependent on you and live in a nursing home. Wawanesa Insurance, for example, covers up to $25,000 of a parent or in-law’s personal property if they’re in an assisted living facility. So whether another resident bumps into the buffet and Mom’s wedding china shatters or she just can’t find that new iPad you got her, she could be covered.
Many insurers include identity theft coverage in homeowners’ policies. The Cooperators, for instance, reimburses clients up to $25,000 for expenses relating to identity theft: legal fees, postage for certified mail and even lost earnings if you had to take time off work. There is no deductible, and it won’t affect your claims-free status, but note the coverage won’t reimburse your stolen money. It simply aims to defray the costs of getting it back.
Insurance providers will often cover damage to gravestones belonging to one of your relatives. Under some policies, RSA Insurance, for example, will pay up to $5,000 for loss or damage to your spouse, child, parent or grandparent’s gravestone or mausoleum. There are significant restrictions, however. You’ll only get reimbursed if the gravestone was damaged by certain acts, including fire, lightning, explosions, sonic booms, vandalism, riots and some types of water damage.
Remember the Great Ontario Blackout of 2013? Hundreds of thousands of people didn’t have power for days in late December, but if their Christmas dinners started spoil in the freezer, their insurance might have kicked in. Aviva, for instance, will reimburse you for loss or damage to frozen food if there’s a blackout or the freezer breaks down. This includes both expenses to stop the food from going bad, and any damage all the melting ice cream might have caused the freezer itself. Food kept in a fridge, however, isn’t eligible, and neither is frozen food if you lost power because of a circuit breaker problem.
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Unsplash: Olu Eletu