A friend spills red wine on your carpet. What do you do?
- Blot, grab the stain remover, and clean.
- Open the bottle of cheap white wine and pour over the stain, then blot.
- Blot, clean, and call your home insurance company to make a claim.
Home insurance covers damage, losses and theft to your home, as well as provides you with liability coverage in the event someone injures themselves on your property. But did you know that you can claim quite a bit on your home insurance outside of damage caused by fire, some water damage, and theft?
We’re not making up that red-wine-carpet-spill claim. You can definitely do that.
“A home insurance policy is written on what's called a comprehensive form,” says LowestRates.ca COO, Dave Dyer. “And comprehensive means everything's included except what is defined as excluded, such as overland and basement flooding, unless you’ve bought an endorsement. [But] accidents by other people are covered.”
Depending on the situation, says Dyer, you might want to put in a home insurance claim for damage to your carpet caused by a spill. If you’ve done your best to deal with the stain but it still won’t come out, you might have to replace the entire carpet. That might lead to you having to replace all the carpet in your home if you’ve used it throughout and can’t get an exact or good-enough match. That can become very expensive to pay for out of pocket.
Frozen food spoilage and surprise thunderstorms
Do you know what else is covered by your home insurance? The food in your freezer.
“Insurance policies will pay up to $2,000 without deductible for loss or damage to food while contained in a freezer located on your premises, caused by mechanical breakdown of the freezer or accidental interruption of electrical power on or off the premises,” says Dyer. Insurance will also cover reasonable expenses incurred by you to save and preserve the food from spoilage while your new freezer is being purchased. So if you go to a hardware store to buy a free-standing freezer, your home insurance policy should cover that. (The trip itself won’t be covered by insurance, so no claiming mileage.)
Home insurance is for those unexpected situations. If you follow that rule then there's a pretty good chance you'll always be able to get coverage
Another quirky home insurance claim example that Dyer has heard of goes like this: someone was redoing their floors so they moved all of their furniture outside. But then there was a surprise thunderstorm, which ruined the furniture. The policyholder made a home insurance claim with their provider and it was accepted.
There are lots of unexpected things your home insurance will cover. Plane parts fall from the sky and damage your house? You can make a claim for that. Tree falls over and lands on your roof? You can make a claim for that, too. Friend trips and falls into your coffee table? They can make a claim if they’re injured and you can make a claim if the coffee table is damaged.
That’s the power of comprehensive home insurance. But when does it actually make sense to make a claim? And will doing so increase your premium or hinder your ability to get insurance in the future?
The downside of claiming everything on your home insurance policy
While it’s tempting to make a claim against your home insurance policy for anything and everything, it’s not necessarily recommended.
Dyer says that policy owners shouldn’t treat their home insurance policy like a maintenance contract. “Home insurance is for those unexpected situations,” says Dyer. “And if you follow that rule then there's a pretty good chance you'll always be able to get insurance coverage. But if you're putting a claim in for every little thing, you're gonna have a hard time finding someone to insure you.”
Making frequent claims can affect your ability to get home insurance in the future. An insurance company may take a look at the number of claims you’ve made in recent history and decide that it doesn’t make good business sense to sell you coverage.
Repeated claims can get costly for you, too, if you’re always having to pay your deductible every time you make a claim. Dyer says if you can afford to replace the damaged items, it might be better to do that than make a claim.
Will a home insurance claim increase my premiums?
“It's not like auto insurance,” says Dyer, where fault is a big determinant in whether or not you’ll face an increase in premium after making a claim.
Home insurance providers don’t really track and record fault in the same way that car insurance companies do. For that reason, you can expect to pay the deductible when you make a home insurance claim. Whether putting in that claim increases your premiums, however, is another question.
The number of home insurance claims you make can of course affect your premium, but that’s just one factor that affects how much you’ll pay.
The best way to determine whether it makes sense to put through the claim on your home insurance is to work with a broker. They can tell you whether it’s a good idea, how it will affect your premiums, and if it will hurt your ability to get coverage in the future.