Homeowners insurance covers structural damage to a home but only if caused by a covered peril. Insurance policies define covered perils as sudden catastrophic events, such as storms and fires. However, structural damage caused over time by wear and tear is excluded from homeowners policies. Therefore, you must fix issues related to maintenance and aging of your home at your own expense.
What Is Structural Damage?
Structural damages to your home are problems with its core elements. For example, your foundation, walls, ceilings, and roof are integral parts of your dwelling. Without them, your home would be incomplete and may not even stand. Problems with one part of a home’s structure can spread to other key support components.
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Symptoms of structural damage vary but include visible problems such as ceiling damage, a cracked chimney, or slanted floors. However, some structural damage can linger for long periods without any signs most homeowners would recognize.
Home inspectors check for damage to the framework of homes, primarily checking the foundation, floor, walls, and roof. They may spot cracking, sagging, or shifting, for example. These clues allow them to diagnose issues and recommend repairs before further corrosion of the structure.
When Does Home Insurance Cover Structural Damage?
The dwelling protection section of homeowners insurance policies covers structural damage to a house when it occurs due to a covered peril. Dwelling protection encompasses all elements of the home itself explicitly and differs from the policy section that protects personal property contained within the home.
Common Covered Causes of Structural Damage
Homeowners insurance adjusters see covered causes of structural damage routinely. They are sudden events that damage the home rather than deterioration of the structure due to wear and tear or age. The following are typical examples:
Fires qualify because they are sudden events that damage the home and are not part of maintenance or expected wear and tear. A severe fire can cause massive destruction, decimating the building’s essential framework. If the building’s main supports suffer enough damage to make the building unstable, the insurance company may pay for it to be demolished and a new house built.
When hurricane winds rage through your neighborhood, you can expect a significant catastrophe. If your home sustains minor damage, you were lucky. However, in many cases, hurricanes devastate homes beyond repair. Because hurricanes are sudden weather events, most homeowners policies cover them. However, some companies exclude coverage for hurricanes in certain areas and may require a much higher deductible for this type of claim.
Hail is one of those unpredictable occurrences homeowners insurance is designed to protect against. If it damages your roof, breaks windows, or causes some other damage, your insurance pays for repairs.
A lightning strike can start a fire or cause a sudden crack in the home’s structure. Whatever damage it wreaks on your home, your policy will cover it.
Structural Damage Excluded By Homeowners Insurance
Some structural damage is at your own expense:
Homes deteriorate over time, causing structural damage. If your home suffers from a routine decline, you must fix it yourself.
Homeowners insurance expressly excludes earthquake damage; however, you can purchase a separate policy to cover earthquakes.
Floods are also excluded from homeowners insurance coverage, but separate flood coverage is available. Water leaks, such as from a pipe burst, are covered by homeowners insurance.
Your home’s structure keeps it standing and provides you with a roof over your head. However, over time, as with all buildings, wear and tear weaken the structure, requiring repairs. These you must fix at your own cost.
However, your homeowners policy pays for repairs to your home’s structure caused by abnormal events that damage the home, such as fires, storms, and other freak occurrences. Therefore, you can rest assured that should a catastrophic event imperil your home’s foundation or framework, your homeowners insurance policy provides coverage.