Home Insurance Exclusions 101

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It’s a constant cycle every time you download a new game, update an app or buy a new device. The yawn-inducing “terms and conditions” pops up, asking you to read through what feels like hundreds of pages before accepting. But how many times do you actually read it?

Though skimming through (or completely ignoring) the fine print may seem harmless when you just want to pass the time with a game, it’s not always the best habit to have. This is especially true when it comes to buying a home insurance policy.

Home insurance exclusions are things that your home insurance won’t protect or cover with financial reimbursement. They’re an essential part of your coverage, as they give you insight into where you might need extra coverage. But to find these exclusions, you’ll need to do some digging. Below, we cover the ins and outs of these exclusions to make sure your policy works for you.

Key takeaways:

  • Home insurance exclusions are a list of perils, specific events or even objects that a home insurance company won’t provide financial protection over.
  • You’ll likely find exclusions in the definitions and policy sections of your home insurance documents.

What are exclusions in insurance?

Exclusions are a list of perils, specific events or even objects that a home insurance company won’t provide financial protection over. They’re listed directly in your home insurance policy to give you a greater understanding of the coverage you’re buying. Knowing the boundaries of coverage on your policy is extremely important so that you can prepare for what you’ll be paying for out of pocket as well as what extra coverage you may need.

What are typical exclusions in an insurance policy?

There are various exclusions home insurance providers may list in their policies, either to protect themselves or because they’re so high-risk that they require a separate rider altogether. Though you should always check your policy for your specific exclusions, the list below will give you a pretty good idea of what typically isn’t included in your home insurance protection plan.

Home insurance exclusions include earth movements, catastrophic events, war, nuclear hazards, owner neglect, purposeful actions, water damage, illegal activity and those situations that require a separate rider.

Earth movements

Traditional homeowners insurance won’t cover earth movements. Earth movements include earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes and even small earth shifts that damage your home or additional structures. You can get protection from these events, however, under an earthquake insurance add-on.

Catastrophic events

The word catastrophic covers a lot of various natural disasters. And if you’re asking yourself, “I thought my home insurance protected me from stuff like that?” you aren’t alone. Home insurance does cover you from a lot of disasters like windstorms, hail and fire. But other catastrophes, such as hurricanes and floods, require a separate rider to receive coverage.

War or nuclear hazards

If a war breaks out or a nuclear hazard damages your home, you won’t be able to call your insurance provider for financial assistance. Given how unlikely these events are and that they’d affect everyone at once, insurance companies list them as an exclusion to protect themselves.

Owner neglect

While your home insurance coverage can help pay for home repairs should something break, the cause of the damage is important. So if lightning strikes your home and damages your HVAC unit, you’d be covered. But if you never change your air filter or clean out your AC ducts and your HVAC system breaks down, that’ll be on you to pay for as it was easily preventable.

Purposeful actions

If you (or someone else) intentionally damage your home’s structure, your appliances or your personal property, your insurance won’t cover the repair. Since home insurance is there to protect you from the unexpected, they explicitly list purposeful actions as an exclusion in their coverage.

Water damage

Water damage from floods, sewer backups and even appliance malfunctions are expressly excluded from your home insurance coverage. You can, however, get separate protection from these damages with insurance riders. 

Illegal activities

If you or someone living in your home damages your home or your personal property while committing a crime, you won’t be able to get financial assistance to repair or replace what was damaged. In contrast, this doesn’t apply to those not living in your home — like if someone breaks into your home and steals or damages your belongings, coverage would apply.

Situations that require a rider

Whether location-specific or regulated by the government, some homeowners will be required to add on insurance riders. Even though they may be a required addition, your original policy won’t cover them. Examples include hurricane insurance for coastal cities or earthquake insurance for homeowners that live on fault lines.

Where can I find my policy exclusions?

Unlike most other key information in your home insurance policy, you won’t find exclusions on your declaration page. You will have to do some investigating to check what your policy excludes. Though it varies by provider, you’ll likely find exclusions in the definitions and policy sections of your home insurance documents.

Home insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. With a little bit of research (and some helping hands along the way), you don’t have to worry about getting inadequate coverage. For more information on how to break down home insurance jargon, check out our always-growing home insurance learning center.