An insurance policy for your home doesn’t just pay for necessary repairs when disaster strikes, it also can protect you in case of an accident on your property, such as a slip and fall. Peace of mind for major repairs and bad accidents is important—but there are some things you might be doing that can void your insurance that you might not even be aware of. Here are some things to avoid doing to keep your policy intact.
A common mistake you might be making is running a business out of your home. While side hustles abound, if you bring clients into your home, keep inventory there, or have expensive equipment, you might not be covered if something goes wrong. Damage or theft of any property pertaining to a business won’t be covered by your average policy, and liability for guests who are a part of your business operation is also likely not part of your coverage. If your insurance company discovers that you have made this mistake during the course of a claim, they could fine you or even cancel your policy all together.
Leaving your house empty for an extended period of time could also cause your policy to be terminated. Most insurance companies spell out in their policy description exactly what to do if you plan to be away for more than 30 days, and failure to have the property properly looked after while you’re gone could have consequences on the outcome of a claim if there’s a break-in, accident, or damage while the home is vacant. Making sure to follow whatever rules your policy has for extended absences can protect you from unforeseen costs of the cancellation of your policy.
A homeowner’s policy may be canceled if there are major renovations without notifying the issuing company. Major changes to the home, including additions or weatherizing a garage, can change the terms of your policy. Any changes you make to your property that could change its value should be communicated to your insurer in a timely manner to make sure your coverage is appropriate and avoid any problems with future claims.
Airbnb is another way to get your policy axed unless your insurance company knows about it. Most policies have specific rules for renting out rooms and require some separate insurance for tenants. Make sure you know what these rules are before posting your spare bedroom online for rent. Failure to follow these rules could result in liability in case of an accident, as well as voiding your policy.
Basic maintenance tasks like repairing gutters and roofs, as well as regular inspection of dryer vents needs to be done to keep your policy intact. If you have a very old roof, a dryer vent that’s stuffed with lint, or a leaking water heater, your insurance might not cover damages incurred from water or fire if you knew there was a problem and didn’t address it. Keeping up on basic maintenance can go a long way toward protecting yourself in case of an unexpected problem down the road.
Criminal activity like the growing, making, or distribution of drugs can void your policy; even if the activity is performed by a guest or a tenant, you can be held responsible for any damage caused during the course of a crime.