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What Is Covered Under a Homeowner’s Liability Policy 

Apr 11, 2018 3:24:36 PM / by Leap | Carpenter | Kemps Insurance Agency

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Most people never actually read their homeowner’s insurance policy. We agree insurance policies are difficult to read and understand unless you are in the insurance business. Nevertheless, we do recommend that you read your policy. If you have any questions call our office, as we are happy to help you. 

The liability portion of your renters’ or homeowner’s coverage will be similar, so both renters and homeowners should pay attention.

The personal liability section of a renter’ or homeowner’s policy protects against accidents or injuries for which you may be liable that occur in, on, or around, your premises. The policy covers bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage.

Liability is defined as a legal obligation to another party. A renter or homeowner can be held legally responsible for injury or damages caused to another party at your home or apartment.  You will only be held accountable (liable) for an accident, injury, or property damage if you caused the accident, or if you failed to ensure that your home was in safe condition.  The policy states that it will pay on behalf of the homeowner for damages that are covered under the policy.

  • Bodily Injury — covers injury to the body of a third party. This might include a guest that trips on your deck and breaks their leg.
  • Personal Injury — these kinds of claims usually include damages involving libel and slander.
  • Property damage — covers damage or loss to someone else’s private property. An example of a property damage claim would be if you damage your neighbor's fence when you cut your tree down.

The personal liability section also includes defense coverage in the event you are brought into litigation. The policy or insurer will defend you and pay any damage for which you are liable up to the policy limits — subject to the policy terms and conditions.

Some renters’ and homeowner’s insurance policies have what is called “premises medical coverage.” This is like a no-fault coverage to help pay for reasonable medical expenses if a guest is injured on your premises. This allows your guest’s medical bill to be paid without having to get involved in litigation.

Premises medical typically covers (up to your limit) necessary medical and surgical expenses including:

  • Ambulance Services
  • Dental work
  • X-rays
  • Nursing services
  • Hospital costs
  • Funeral services

Personal Insurance May Cover:

  • Trip and falls
  • Your child accidentally throwing a ball through your neighbor’s window
  • Dog bites
  • Food poisoning at a neighborhood barbecue
  • Accidentally causing damage to your hotel room while on vacation
  • Libel and slander

Of course, some claims or damages are not covered under standard renters or homeowner’s insurance policies. Remember each policy is different, so we always recommend you read your policy.

Here Are Common Exclusions Found in a Renters or Homeowner’s Liability Policy:

  • Vehicles
  • Intentional acts
  • Criminal acts
  • Domestic workers—an endorsement can add this coverage
  • Injury to people living in your home or apartment
  • Damage caused by contractors
  • Business activities including claims related to your professional activities

The Most Common Kinds of Claims That Renters or Homeowners Face

According to the Insurance Information Institute, these are the most common kinds of personal liability claims:

  • Falling trees onto neighbors fences or home
  • Dog bites
  • Trip and fall accidents
  • Guests that are intoxicated
  • Injury to domestic workers

What to Do in the Event of a Claim

The first thing you need to do is contact your agent and insurance company. You must cooperate with the insurer and any representatives during the investigation.  Never agree to settle or use your funds to pay for medical bills or damages.

Final Thoughts About Personal Liability Insurance

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Personal liability insurance is designed to protect you from accidents or unintended events that you just never know will might happen. So, while it may not be required, it is a necessity in today’s world and we recommend it to everyone.

While you can purchase different limits, we recommend at least a personal liability limit of $300,000 to $500,000 per occurrence.

We also recommend that every person consider a personal umbrella policy. This kind of coverage applies over your personal liability policies, including your personal auto coverage. And if you have any domestic workers, you should have your agent review your homeowner’s insurance policy. There may be specific laws that require you to carry workers’ compensation on these individuals.

A renter or homeowner must keep their property safe for guests.  You must advise your agent of any new exposures like installing a swimming pool.  

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