What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover? A Beginner's Guide

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover? A Beginner's Guide

  • 06/19/24

Navigating the world of homeowners insurance can be daunting for new homeowners. Understanding what your policy covers is crucial to protecting your investment and mitigating any potential financial losses due to unforeseen events.

Homeowners insurance is designed to cover the costs associated with damage to your home, as well as your liability for injuries that occur on your property. If you’re a prospective new homeowner in Palm Beach real estate, keep reading. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the basics of what most homeowners insurance policies cover, helping you make informed decisions about your policy needs.

1. Structure of Your Home

Dwelling Coverage

The core of any homeowners insurance policy is dwelling coverage, which pays to repair or rebuild your home if it's damaged by an insured event, such as a fire, storm, or other natural disaster. This part of your policy covers the physical structure of your home, including the walls, roof, and foundation. It’s crucial to ensure that the coverage amount accurately reflects the cost to rebuild your home at current market prices, not just its market value or the price you paid for it.

Other Structures

Most policies also include coverage for other structures on your property that are not attached to your house, such as garages, sheds, and fences. Typically, the coverage for other structures is about 10% of the total coverage for the dwelling, but you can adjust this based on your specific needs.

2. Personal Property

Coverage for Belongings

Homeowners insurance extends to your personal belongings, including furniture, clothing, electronics, jewelry, and appliances. This coverage generally applies whether the items are damaged or lost inside or outside your home (for instance, items stored in a storage facility or items lost or damaged while traveling).

High-Value Items

For expensive possessions like jewelry, art, or high-end electronics, standard policies may offer limited coverage, and it might be necessary to purchase additional coverage or a rider. It’s a good idea to keep receipts and appraisals for such items and ensure that they are specifically listed in your policy.

3. Liability Protection

Bodily Injury and Property Damage

Liability protection is an essential component of homeowners insurance. It covers legal expenses if you are sued for damages or injuries that occur on your property. For example, if a visitor trips on your staircase and decides to sue for injuries, your liability coverage can help cover legal fees and any settlement costs.

Medical Payments

This part of your liability coverage can pay for medical expenses if someone is injured on your property, regardless of who is at fault. It’s designed to cover minor injuries, thus potentially avoiding more significant liability claims.

4. Additional Living Expenses (ALE)

Coverage for Extra Costs

If your home is severely damaged and you need to live elsewhere during repairs, Additional Living Expenses coverage will pay for your temporary living costs. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt or repaired.

Duration and Limits

It’s important to note that ALE coverage typically has limits, both in the total amount payable and in how long the insurance company will cover additional expenses. Ensure you understand these limits and plan accordingly if you find yourself in this situation.

5. Common Perils Covered

Named Perils

Most homeowners insurance policies cover a specific list of perils, such as fire, hail, lightning, and explosions. These are often referred to as “named perils.” If damage occurs due to an event not listed, it typically won’t be covered.

Open Perils

Some policies offer open perils coverage for the dwelling, meaning they’ll cover all sources of damage except for those explicitly excluded in the policy. Common exclusions include earthquakes, floods, government action, and poor home maintenance.

6. Exclusions and Limitations

Understanding what is not covered by your homeowners insurance is as crucial as knowing what is covered. Common exclusions include:

Natural Disasters

Certain natural disasters like floods and earthquakes are typically not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. You may need to buy separate insurance policies to protect your home from these types of risks.

Maintenance Issues

Homeowners insurance does not cover damages that result from poor maintenance or wear and tear. Keeping your home in excellent repair can prevent many common types of damage.

By understanding the coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy, you can ensure that you are neither underinsured nor paying for unnecessary coverage. Always discuss your specific needs with your insurance agent to tailor your policy accordingly and keep it updated as your circumstances change. This proactive approach will help you maintain optimal coverage and peace of mind as a homeowner.

If you’re looking for expert guidance in Palm Beach real estate, connect with trusted agent Elizabeth DeWoody today to begin your journey!


Elizabeth is able to provide quick, easy access to on and off-market properties.

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