Before it's too late, check on homeowners' coverage

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Many people are confused about what their homeowners' insurance covers, putting them at risk financially if calamity strikes, according to a new survey commissioned by the insurance comparison site InsuranceQuotes.com.

"After a disaster happens, it's too late to find out you don't have coverage," said Laura Adams, senior analyst for the Denver-based site.

Among the findings: Two-in-five policyholders (41 percent) incorrectly believed standard insurance covered mold damage, while just over half (51 percent) incorrectly believed it covered damage in an earthquake.

Although it wasn't part of this survey, many homeowners also mistakenly believe their policies cover them in a flood, Ms. Adams said. On the flip side, many policyholders also underestimate their coverage.

For example, 73 percent did not know that standard insurance, including renters' insurance, covered theft of personal belongings stolen from a car. Although deductibles apply, it could be worth making a claim if, say, an expensive laptop or something valuable in a suitcase were stolen, Ms. Adams noted.

Roughly 30 percent of respondents were unaware their policy included coverage that protects against lawsuits filed by a visitor injured on the property. That liability coverage is a big part of the premium, Ms. Adams said.

While most policies don't cover water damage caused by "maintenance" issues -- such as repeated water seepage from a leaky pipe, humidity or condensation problems and landscaping or drainage problems -- they do cover sudden and accidental water losses, such as from burst pipes and sump pump failure.

Ms. Adams recommends homeowners review their policies at least once a year to make sure they have appropriate coverage and to make necessary adjustments.

To learn more, try the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute at www.iii.org and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department at www.insurance.pa.gov/.

yourbiz

Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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