Homeowners Insurance Covers Wide Range of Goods and Services

Q: Does a homeowners insurance policy cover a home office or home-based business? What about a home-based day care service?
A: Home office:  If you are like many people who occasionally bring work home from the office, most homeowners policies will cover from $1,000 to $2,500 for loss of property used or intended for use in a business. This includes coverage for merchandise held as samples or for sale on the insured premises.

Home-based business:  A home-based business (a business where the primary location of the business is on the premises covered by your homeowners policy) requires additional insurance for loss and liability coverage.

Day care:  If you provide day care service to a person or persons and receive money or other compensation for such service, you are considered to have a home-based business and must usually obtain additional insurance for this activity.

Q: Is my son's or daughter's personal property at college covered under my homeowners insurance policy?
A: As long as the student maintains permanent residency at the insured's premises and remains your dependent, the personal property at college usually is covered under your homeowners insurance.

Q: Does a homeowners policy cover damage from floods or earthquakes?
A: Homeowners policies insure against named perils such as fire, wind, vandalism and theft, and some insure against all risks subject to stated exclusions. Most policies exclude coverage for loss due to earth movement (which includes earthquakes, landslides, and mud flow) and water damage (which includes floods and water back-ups through sewers or drains). Additional insurance can be purchased for such occurrences. Also, some financial institutions may require flood insurance depending upon the location of your real property.

Q: Are my wedding rings, cash in the cookie jar, and grandfather's rifle covered under my homeowners insurance?
A: Many homeowners policies limit the amount of coverage on money (after $200), or on jewelry (after $1,000) and firearms (after $2,000). See your insurance company agent regarding proper insurance and limits on jewelry, furs, cameras, musical instruments, silverware, golfer's equipment, fine arts, postage stamp and sports card collections, and rare and current coins.

Q: What does "medical payments coverage" under my homeowners policy include and when does this coverage apply?
A: Medical payments coverage in a homeowners insurance policy provides payment, up to the stated limit for medical treatment resulting from injuries received while on the insured's property. This coverage applies without regard to fault or liability. For example, medical payments coverage would pay for medical care needed for injuries to a guest who fell and injured her knee while playing volleyball in your yard, even if you were totally without fault for the fall. In most cases, this coverage is excess above any health or other insurance the injured person may have.

Q: What should I do if someone is hurt on my property or if I have a potential insurance claim?
A: Any time someone is hurt on your property or you have a potential insurance claim, you should first notify the appropriate emergency personnel (if applicable). You should also promptly notify your insurance carrier and/or insurance agent. Most insurance policies require you to promptly notify the insurance company of any potential claims. Failing to promptly notify the insurer may prevent recovery under the policy later. 

Q: What records should I keep in case of a disaster?
A: A home inventory, as well as photos and proof of ownership, makes it easier to file an accurate, detailed insurance claim in case your home is damaged or destroyed. A home inventory can also help determine how much coverage you need from your homeowners insurance. Go to www.insurance.ohio.gov​ to download a free home inventory checklist.

Q: Where can I get more information?
A:  Ohioans with insurance questions are encouraged to call the Ohio Department of Insurance consumer servivces hotline(1-800-686-1526). You can find additional tips and more information about insurance at the Department's website (www.insurance.ohio.gov).


This "Law You Can Use" legal information article was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was originally prepared by Sen. Keith Faber, a Celina attorney and mediator and a member of the Ohio Senate. It was updated by Toledo attorney Steven R. Smith of Connelly & Collier LLP.

Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. This article is not intended to be legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek advice from a licensed attorney.



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