It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that your home insurance won’t cover you against every imaginable situation, especially if your insurance broker doesn’t have the most up-to-date information about your property. But did you know that some situations can result in your home insurance being voided entirely? Whether it is the result of inaction or action, there are multiple reasons why your home insurance policy may be voided. All of these are preventable.
Here are some of the reasons why your home insurance can be voided when you go to make a claim, and how you can prevent them.
Leaving Your Home Vacant for More Than 30 Days
Before you go on vacation, a business trip, or other extended trips that requires you to leave your place unattended for several days, have someone lined up to check in on your home periodically – i.e, every 48 to 72 hours. This will ensure that your home insurance policy is not voided and that any possible issues that may arise are dealt with preventatively.
Additionally, many insurance companies have a set of requirements that you need to follow if your house is going to be vacant for a specified length of time – usually 30 days – in order to maintain coverage during your absence. Discuss with your broker or closely read the fine print of your policy to see how long your provider allows your home to be left vacant.
Doing Renovations Without Informing Your Insurance Company
Changing the kitchen sink doesn’t require a call to your insurer but renovating your entire kitchen does. You need to notify your insurance company if you are doing major renovations to your home that may potentially increase or otherwise impact the replacement cost. Giving your insurance provider a call after your renovation will ensure that you have adequate coverage in the event of a loss.
Also, if you are hiring contractors to do the job, make sure that they carry their own liability insurance as well. Your liability insurance will only cover personal injury if the workers hurt themselves while completing the renovation. However, your personal liability insurance will not cover the cost of injury if you or your family are hurt during the construction process.
Starting a Home-based Business
Your home insurance is designed to protect your “personal” belongings and living space, covering risks outlined in your policy that are typically associated with living normally. However, businesses usually come with many added risks, and will not be covered by your home insurance. Often, commercial activities and equipment will be specifically excluded from your policy.
If you have decided to start a business out of home and a claim results directly or indirectly from your business, your claim will likely be denied. You may even risk your home insurance policy being voided. Thankfully, many insurance providers will offer add-on coverage for home-based businesses and increased limitations for business activities. Keep in mind that not all businesses can be covered by this endorsement, and you may want to discuss with your broker about what your options are if you happen to run a business out of home.
Using Your Home for Illegal Activity
This one is an obvious one. If you are using your home for illegal activities and you have a claim, your insurance company will not cover the cost of damages. Generally, there is an exclusion clause within your insurance policy that outlines the type of claims that will not be covered.
Examples of criminal or illegal activities may include the following:
- Intentionally doing damage or harm to another individual or their property, or damage to your own property.
- Storing, growing, processing, manufacturing, or distributing any illegal substances.
- Altering your home in order to facilitate the manufacturing or possession of any illegal substances.
Your property insurance may be voided even if you were not aware of any illegal or criminal activity.
You, as the homeowner, are expected to look after your home and keep it in good condition. This includes doing annual or regular inspections of your home’s ventilation, plumbing, heating, and electrical systems, the roof, assessing for damages, controlling dust, and overall just making sure your home is structurally sound. A poorly maintained home can contribute to the depreciation of your valuables and even result in claims – due to poor maintenance – being denied.
Without adequate home maintenance and regular repairs, your insurer may even void your home insurance policy. You can review your policy documents and/or discuss them with your broker to see what the expectations are when it comes to maintaining your home.
Describing Your Property Dishonestly
You didn’t mention the in-ground swimming pool in your yard? What about the copper wiring in your house? Or that you have lead pipes in your plumbing? Describing your property dishonestly can lead to your claims being denied or, worst case, your home insurance being voided later because of the incorrect information that you provided your broker. This is because your home’s characteristics and especially “special” architectural features may need to be reflected in the approximated replacement cost of your home. If this value is inaccurate, you may find yourself underinsured.
The Bottom Line
In order to have the best coverage possible, it is important to be open and honest with your insurance broker. This can save you from risking having your claims denied, your home insurance policy voided, and overall ensure that you are as realistically insured as possible.
Excalibur’s home insurance representatives can discuss your insurance with you today. Looking for a home insurance quote? Click HERE to do an online quote or call us at 1-888-298-7343 to speak to one of our registered brokers.