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Seven Common Homeowners Insurance Myths

Written by Heidi Petschauer on September 12, 2013 in Insurance  |   9 comments

As a homeowner, it’s important to know what your insurance policy covers. If your insurance doesn’t cover you for something you thought it did, you could end up paying out of pocket for property damage or injuries. Here are seven common myths about homeowners insurance…

insurance policy, homeowners insuranceAs a homeowner, it’s important to know what your insurance policy covers. If your insurance doesn’t cover you for something you thought it did, you could end up paying out of pocket for property damage or injuries.

Here are seven common myths about homeowners insurance coverage:

Myth #1. Anyone I hire to do work is covered under my homeowners insurance policy if he or she injured on my property while working.

False. In most states, your homeowners policy will cover a part-time worker (working less than 40 hours a week) who normally does not require workers compensation coverage if he or she is injured. That means a housekeeper, pet sitter, babysitter, or neighborhood kid who shovels your snow may be covered.

However, a plumber, roofer, landscaper, or other type of contractor may not be covered by your policy, as people working in these professions are typically required to have workers compensation coverage.

To ensure that your financial interest is protected, you may want to request a Certificate of Insurance naming you as additional insured before allowing a contractor to perform any work in your home. If you have live-in, full-time domestic help—such as a nanny or a caretaker for an elderly parent or disabled child—it is important to contact your agent to discuss whether purchasing your own workers compensation coverage is in your best interest.

Myth #2. The belongings my child takes away to college are completely covered under my homeowners policy.

False. Your child’s belongings are not all covered in every situation. It depends on the type of homeowners policy and riders you may or may not have, as well as the state in which you live. In addition, electronics such as computers or smartphones may need a rider or a simple maintenance contract to be covered in the event they are damaged or stolen.

Myth #3. I run a business out of my home and have no employees. Therefore, my homeowners policy will automatically cover any property or liability claims against me arising from my business operations.

False. Operating a business out of a home is very common today. Unfortunately, many home-based business owners do not even consider their insurance policies.

A standard homeowners policy typically does not include coverage for loss of income or for any business property such as office furniture, tools, computers, or inventory. And your homeowners policy certainly doesn’t cover any liability or defense costs arising from your business operations.

For example, if a delivery driver is bringing inventory to your home and trips, falls, and is seriously injured while walking into your home with the heavy boxes, your policy may not cover you. It’s also unlikely your homeowners policy will cover you if your product or service does damage to someone’s person or property.

With some in-home businesses, a rider can be added onto your homeowners policy to help protect you. In some instances, though, your business may need its own separate insurance policy.

Myth #4. I’m adding a 600 square foot extension to my home and will be staying in temporary housing and storing my belongings in a storage facility for the next six months. My homeowners policy will cover my existing home while I am out of the house.

False. In most states, a homeowners policy is designed to cover a residence that is regularly occupied by and furnished for the personal use of the named insureds and their resident relatives.

Once you change the occupancy, your insurance carrier may either non-renew your policy or deny a claim during the time of renovations. You will need a builder’s risk policy to cover you properly during this time. In addition, there may be limited coverage—or none at all—for you while you are renting a temporary location.

Myth #5. During a storm, my pool cover was torn off my in-ground pool and a tree fell and damaged all of my outdoor furniture. I have replacement cost coverage, so I will be fully reimbursed.

False. As many East Coast residents found out after Superstorm Sandy, wind damage to any outdoor furnishings, including a pool cover, is paid on an actual cash basis on most homeowners policies. That means these items are subject to depreciation regardless of whether you had replacement cost coverage or not.

Myth #6. My neighbor’s tree fell onto my fence during a heavy wind and rain storm. My neighbor’s homeowners policy will reimburse me for the damage.

False. Wind is an act of nature and no one can be liable for that. So, if your neighbor’s tree fell and damaged your property during a storm, your homeowners policy—not your neighbor’s—will trigger a claim to reimburse you for the damages (subject to your deductible, of course).

Myth #7. If I carry $1,000,000 liability on my homeowners policy, I do not need an umbrella policy.

False. Your liability coverage will protect you if someone trips and falls on your property; if your child accidently hits and injures a passer-by in the park while playing baseball with his friends; or if someone is seriously injured in your new pool, to name a few examples.

However, it will not cover you if you seriously injure someone while renting a car or boat while on vacation, nor will it cover the costs beyond those your automobile insurance covers in the event of an accident. In these instances, and others where claims could exceed the $1,000,000 amount, you may need an umbrella insurance policy, which kicks in when the limits on your other policies are reached.

Now that you know the truth about these common homeowners insurance myths, review your policy with your agent to ensure you have proper coverage and consider whether you need new or different policies that can help fill any gaps you may find.

Heidi Petschauer Fox graduated from St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., in 1983 with a B.S. in management. She joined her late father’s firm, Petschauer Insurance, in 1982, became principal in 1995, and now shares ownership with her partner and cousin, Erwin Petschauer. She received her Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation in 1997. She currently facilitates the professional and creative development of the entire Petschauer team and manages the personal lines and social media departments.

The information contained in this blog post is designed to generally educate and inform visitors to the Equifax Finance Blog. The blog posts do not give, and should not be assumed to provide, personalized tax, investment, real estate, legal, retirement, credit, personal financial, or other professional advice. Before making any financial decision, you should always consult with the appropriate professionals who can explain your options, rights, and legal responsibilities, and advise you on any tax, legal, credit, or business implications that may result from those decisions. The views and opinions expressed by the authors of blog posts are their own views and may not be the views or opinions of Equifax, Inc. and/or its affiliates.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Great blog! Very informative and really gives one food for thought on a personal level. As a business person, I really knew a lot of this, but never really gave much thought to it in terms of my homeowners’ policy.

  2. Nicholson H. says:

    OMG! I think I’ve assumed and expected too much from my insurance that my mind wasn’t able to see these myths coming. I guess I should be more skeptical and attentive to detail especially when it comes to topics like this. Thanks for the good reading!

  3. Deanna R. says:

    Thanks for the information! It seems really important to know whether your own homeowners insurance or your neighbor’s insurance will reimburse you when your home is damaged. It’s a good thing that you set things straight with the information in Myth #6. I didn’t know that my insurance would have to cover the damage to my house after a wind storm, even if my neighbor’s tree falls on my house. It’s good to know that any act of nature has to be covered by my own insurance and not my neighbor’s.

  4. Susan H. says:

    Thank you for clearing all this up. My husband and I want to buy a home and we will need to get home insurance. Neither of us has ever shopped for it before, so we didn’t know much about it. Thank you for clarifying myth number four. I’ll be sure to remember that one.

  5. Braden says:

    I didn’t know that a standard home insurance plan didn’t cover everything! I was under the impression that everything was covered. I’ll make sure that I get a non standard plan set up! Thanks for sharing.

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