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Your home insurance policy protects your home and your personal belongings but it also provides personal liability protection that can help pay for damage to the property of others and injuries to others. Your liability protection provides coverage for you, the policyholder, as well as your spouse or partner and your children.
In most cases, your dependents are covered up to age 18 or up until age 21 if they are students either living in the household or temporarily living away from the insured principal residence.
While your policy provides liability protection for your family, it’s important to understand what your coverage can do (and can’t do). Home insurance and auto insurance are different products and your home insurance policy doesn’t provide coverage for liability related to auto accidents. It can, however, provide coverage if you accidentally crash through the neighbor’s fence with your lawnmower or cause some other type of unintentional damage. The word unintentional is important as well. Intentional acts are often excluded from coverage. Most neighborly mishaps can be handled amicably without insurance, but your policy can help if you have a larger claim.
Damage to your own personal property caused by you or a family member usually isn’t covered by your policy. The idea behind this is that you can’t be liable to yourself. If one of the kids takes a hammer to the drywall in your home because they saw a cartoon character do that on TV, your policy won’t be much help. The same idea applies if your dog chews your vinyl fencing. However, if your dog chews your neighbor’s fence, there may be coverage.
Slip, trips, falls, and other situations where someone is injured at your home — and sometimes even away from home — are also covered by your home insurance policy under bodily injury liability. Injuries to family members aren’t covered because you can’t have liability to yourself, but if you have visitors — which can include extended family — and someone is injured, your home insurance policy can help cover the cost of their injuries and related expenses.
Personal liability coverage is one of the most important parts of your home insurance policy and often gets the least attention. Most home insurance claims are relatively small, but the larger claims often involve personal liability due to injuries to others. If you haven’t reviewed your coverage lately, reach out to your broker to review your policy and make adjustments to better protect your family and your assets.