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5 Exclusions Your Phoenix Homeowners Insurance Probably Doesn’t Cover

This list includes five common risks you may think you’re covered for – but really aren’t.  Most of these are excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies here in Phoenix (and the rest of the country) and will only be covered if you purchase optional coverage for an additional fee, if available.  They are:

  1. Trampolines:  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission 92,159 people received emergency room treatment for injuries caused on trampolines in 2010.  This fact has not escaped the attention of insurance companies.  Most Arizona homeowners policies specifically exclude coverage for trampolines, and some companies won’t sell you coverage at all (even excluding the trampoline) if you own one.  Not telling them won’t change anything, as many policies include language that states they can deny coverage or cancel your policy if you fail to disclose that you purchase one.
  2. Owning a “Bad Dog:”  There are 11 canine breeds that regularly make the “bad dog” list of many Phoenix home insurers – and may be excluded from animal liability coverage on your policy.  These breeds are:  Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Pit Bull, Presa Canario, Rottweiler, Siberian Husky, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and any wolf hybrid.  Insurers claim when they identify and exclude breeds that are more likely to bite, this helps lower insurance premiums for everyone in Arizona.  However, some people feel animals should be judged individually, not as a group through breed profiling.  Even the AKC has voiced their opinion, saying that these breeds actually end up saving money by deterring break-ins.  But, until this policy is changed, you could be sitting on a HUGE potential lawsuit if you own a dog of this breed and it ends up biting anyone.  Your homeowners will likely not cover the claim and you’ll be left to defend yourself against any liability.
  3. Jewelry, Fine Art & Collectibles:  Most standard policies include a small amount of coverage for these types of things (up to, say, $2,500 maximum).  However, if you’ve got any of these items (or a combination of them) that is valued at more than that, you’ll need to purchase a rider to your policy that increases your coverage for these items.  Expect to have your items appraised, photographed, etc.  so the insurance company will agree to a coverage amount in the event of a covered loss.
  4. Mold or Fungus:  Insurance companies used to cover mold or fungus if it was the direct result of a covered risk.  That made sense, right?  If your home is flooded because a water pipe breaks inside the wall and mold develops, your insurance would cover mold treatment and removal.  However, recent litigation has changed the way Arizona insurers deal with mold and fungus.  Many of them have excluded coverage altogether – even when caused by a covered risk.  So, make sure to read your policy carefully so you know if you’re covered or not – as mold and fungus can be a very expensive fix if you have to come out of pocket on it.
  5. Pool Diving Boards and Slides:  Here in Phoenix, pools are common.  If you have an older pool, it wouldn’t be unusual to have either a diving board or slide.  Just keep in mind that some companies will charge a surcharge for either of these items or exclude them from coverage, while some companies won’t issue you insurance at all.

The worst thing is having something terrible happen, only to realize you’re not covered for it.  Not only are you dealing with the emotional aftermath of the situation, but now you’re left holding the bag as far as liability or replacement goes.

My advice is the same as always … pull out your policy and read through it carefully to see what’s covered — as well as what’s excluded.  As the old saying goes … the devil is in the details.

Until next time …

Tavisha, Go Time Insurance

(602) 938-1515

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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Ordinance or Law Insurance Coverage

As a homeowner, having proper coverage for your home is essential.  Most homeowners believe that having adequate limits will protect them in the case of a catastrophic loss.  They’ve educated themselves regarding the difference between an ACV policy versus a replacement cost policy and they sleep pretty good at night with the belief that if the unthinkable happens they’ll be okay.

Let’s walk that scenario out in real life for a moment…

You bought an older home ten years ago.  You’ve spent your weekends restoring it to pristine condition.  Everyone comments on how gorgeous it looks.  Suddenly, the worst case scenario becomes your reality.  A kitchen fire goes out-of-control and ravages your home – destroying 40% of the living space.

Naturally, you’re devastated, but you take solace in the fact that you have enough insurance to rebuild what’s been lost.

Step One:  You call your insurance company and make a claim.  They send out an adjustor to verify the damage.  “Yep,” they say, “you’ve got damage for a covered risk (fire) and we’ll issue a check for replacement cost” (because you were prudent enough to purchase replacement cost coverage).

Step Two:  Before the rebuilding can commence, the Fire Marshall has to come out to inspect the site and issue a building permit.  That’s when the bomb drops.

Many building codes and ordinances have changed since your home was built.  Your replacement cost insurance policy will replace exactly what was lost; however, without having additional coverage (called “Ordinance or Law Coverage) any additional expense required to bring your home up to current code will not be covered by your policy.

Some code/ordinance changes can be simple and not impact the cost to rebuild too greatly; whereas, other changes can have a significant impact on rebuilding costs.  For instance, in some cases even though your entire home isn’t destroyed by the fire, new building codes won’t permit you to rebuild a home with over 50% damage.  So, if this were to happen – your insurance company would pay for the damaged portion of the debris removal and rebuild – YOU would be responsible for the debris removal and rebuild for the undamaged portion of your home that the city requires to be rebuilt due to code changes.

Having Ordinance or Law Insurance coverage on your homeowner’s policy will cover any additional expenses required to rebuild your home due to any new or changed building codes, ordinances, or requirements since your home was built.

But, be careful with the fine print of this type of coverage, as well.  Some policies are written to cover laws and ordinances that are on the books at the time of loss.  Keep in mind that catastrophes are often the catalyst for code and ordinance changes.  So, let’s say you had a loss on January 1st that was something catastrophic, affecting many other homeowners in your area.  This event may prompt changes in the code that take effect on February 1st.  Let’s say you have Ordinance or Law Coverage that is limited to the codes in effect on the date of loss, you won’t be covered for any changes made subsequent to the event.  So, even though you have Ordinance or Law coverage, it won’t cover changes made after the date of loss if your policy has this type of limitation.

Get your policy out of your file cabinet, dust it off, and check to see if you’ve got this coverage.  It could make a huge difference.

Do you have an insurance agent you can trust to walk you through the maze of various policy subtleties?  If not, we’d love the opportunity to discuss your current coverage with you and offer solutions for any gaps we find.  Give us a call at 602-938-1515 to schedule an appointment.

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The Emotional Impact of a Home Burglary

Our home was burglarized last week and I’m having a wide range of emotional reactions to it.  The most prevalent one seems to be distrust.  I look at everyone in my neighborhood now with distrust – wondering if any of them were involved.  I don’t like that feeling, as I’m pretty friendly with the neighbors and I don’t want that to change.

I also feel scared when I go home and initially enter the house.  I wonder if someone’s in there and what would happen if I walked in on another burglary.  I’m not normally a fearful person, so I don’t like this new development at all.

Once the feelings of powerlessness leave, then the waves of anger come in.  Part of me wants to be like a big-city TV detective and start shaking down people until somebody talks.  There’s a hidden thug inside me who wants answers and wants them now!

Once the anger subsides, I find myself just being grateful that no one was hurt.  It could have been so much worse.

Having insurance is, obviously, important and gives you a sense of peace in these types of situations.  But, it certainly doesn’t solve the emotional issues that accompany such a violation.  I guess like most painful things we experience in life — it will take time for things to get back to normal again.

Until next time …

Tavisha, Go Time Insurance