What isn’t covered by the typical home insurance policy?
Couple at home in the living room

Just as it’s important to know what your home insurance policy covers, it’s equally as important to know what isn’t covered! The good news is, some things you can get extra coverage for. But, others simply aren’t covered at all.

Here are ten things that aren’t usually covered by the typical home insurance policy:

1. Wear and tear, and maintenance

Home insurance doesn’t cover your house or personal items from wear and tear. By wear and tear, we mean damage or deterioration resulting from ordinary use. Insurance is meant to cover things that happen suddenly – and wear and tear happens over time. If your roof is getting too old or your fridge breaks down, fixing it or replacing it won’t be covered. General property upkeep and maintenance tasks also aren’t covered by insurance. If water damage occurs because you didn’t fix a leaky toilet, for example, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket to clean up the mess.

Heads up! If you’re doing renovations or any type of construction to your home, you have to give your insurance provider a heads up. Any major changes to your home will ultimately affect its resale value, which could also impact coverage. Plus, certain improvements may actually lower your home insurance premium and make your insurance company happy!

2. Sewer backup

Dealing with sewer backup is never fun (but it’s almost always smelly!). The aftermath of the water damage usually costs a pretty penny. Ideally, you can prevent sewer backup before it happens. But you never know when there could be a clogged sewer line, outdated sewer systems, or a wild rainstorm. So, most home insurers offer sewer backup coverage that you can buy in case something happens, if you qualify.

3. Overland flooding

Overland water is an optional coverage. This means it’s not automatically included in home insurance policies. It covers loss or damage to your home and/or personal belongings caused by fresh water coming in through your windows and doors at ground level.

Now, you might think that fresh water comes only from rivers or lakes and that if you don’t live near one of these, you don’t need this coverage. But fresh water also includes heavy rain, spring run-off or melting snow or ice. These days, more and more homeowners are at risk of flood due to climate-change-related weather events (like severe rainstorms). Adding this coverage to your policy could save you a lot of money if flooding happens to you.

Heads up! Even though you might need extra coverage for flooding, your home insurance covers you for more types of water damage than you might think! Keep in mind, though, that it won’t cover damage caused by water seeping into your basement through your foundation or window well.

4. Frozen pipes

All home insurance policies cover sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances. But if the pipes freeze while you’re away, it could be a different story. Most insurers have restrictions during the winter if you’re away from your home for more than a few days in a row. They’ll likely require you to either shut off your water supply and drain the pipes, or have someone visiting your home daily to make sure the heat is on. As always, check with your home insurance provider on how they would handle this.

5. Earthquakes and landslides

Earthquake coverage isn’t automatically included in a standard home policy. If you live in a high-risk area such as British Columbia or some parts of Ontario and Quebec, it’s worth having. Plus, it’ll cover damage from some of the aftereffects, like a landslide or snowslide. Quake damage can be devastating, so it’s in your best interest to have this insurance in case of a disaster.

6. Hail

Albertans, this one applies to you! While hail coverage is included in most home insurance policies across Canada, if you’re a homeowner or renter in Alberta this coverage is optional. Because Alberta gets so much hail (darn Chinook!), the choice is yours, whether or not you want to add it, since it could raise your premium. Just be aware that if a hailstorm does happen and you don’t have hail coverage, you’re the one paying for the damage. Either way, if the forecast is calling for hail, make sure you know how to prepare your home for a hailstorm so you can reduce damage before it happens.

7. A home business

If you’re running a business from your home, your regular home insurance policy won’t be enough. An insurer may deny a claim or even cancel your policy if you’re operating a business at home when it’s not allowed. What you should have is a separate small business liability policy on top of your regular home policy. And, you’ll likely need extra coverage for business contents. Get in touch with your insurer to make sure you’re protected.

8. Special belongings

If you own a pricey item considered to be a “special belonging,” you might need special coverage for it. These items include things like jewellery, watches, gems, furs, and silverware. It also includes collectibles like sports cards, comic books, sports memorabilia, rare or signed books, and coins and stamps.

Thankfully, most of your stuff (things like clothing, electronics, furniture, etc.) is covered under your home policy while they’re in your home. They’re also covered if you have them with you when travelling, or at work.

9. Loss or damage caused by mould

Mould is generally isn’t generally included in a home insurance policy, since it’s considered preventable. Even if the mould might be caused by a covered event (like a leak), determining the source of the mould can be really tricky. So, there’s no guarantee that your insurance provider will cover the cost.

10. Damage caused by animals (including skunks, raccoons, birds, vermin, rodents, bats, and insects)

Most homeowners insurance policies won’t cover damage caused by pests. If a family of squirrels or raccoons makes your attic their home, you’ll have to pay for cleanup and/or repairs costs. Whether they’re furry and cute or creepy and crawly, having unwelcome guests in your home is just one reason why it’s so important to do a home inspection before purchasing a new home. And, you should also be regularly checking your home for pests as part of your general upkeep.

When you get your home policy, be sure to read it thoroughly. (Don’t forget to do the same for your auto policy.) It’s best practice to review your home policy when you make certain changes. At the very least, you should review it once a year. If you realize you’re missing something, you can always adjust your coverage. It’s better to catch any missing coverage before anything happens. Reach out to your insurer if you have any questions on coverages you may need. They’ll be happy to help!

Did you know? If you’re a Sonnet customer, you can manage your home policy online in just a few clicks. And if you’re looking to get a home insurance quote, just follow our step-by-step guide.

Protect your home and the things you love most.