Homeowners insurance: What's covered and what's not

Homeowners policies cover damage from fallen trees but you need special coverage for landslides. (KOMO photo)

You probably never think about your homeowners insurance. But, Consumer Reports says you should and not just when disaster strikes.

There are new twists to homeowners insurance that can save you money and cover you better.

Big ticket items like a tree falling on your house usually are covered by home insurance. But, damage from landslides and mudslides is not. For that you need additional coverage known as "difference in conditions." The same applies to damage from floods and earthquakes.

But other, more quirky events might be covered like damage from a drone. Another example? You could get as much as $5,000 in insurance if vandals damage a family headstone.

Or what if your dog damages property or bites someone? It might depend on the breed, but that could be covered, too. Also, be aware your property is also likely to be covered when it’s not in your home, for instance in a child’s dorm room or in your car.

One caution: many people pay for smaller losses themselves because they worry that their premiums will go up if they make a claim.

But, according to a survey of Consumer Reports, readers that doesn’t happen all the time. Of the 2,500 survey respondents whose claim was less than $5,000, more than half did not see a premium increase.

So you might consider filing for smaller losses like minor roof or tree damage. But keep in mind, though that each policy is unique making it difficult to predict if your premium will stay the same after a claim. A lot could depend on the company, your claims history and how long you've been with that company.

And another common warning: making too many claims in a short time may cause the insurance company not to renew your policy.

Bottom line: if it's been a while since you've reviewed your policy, now's a good time to dig it out. You might be surprised at what's covered and what's not.

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