I don’t think anyone would argue that insurance jargon is, at times, very confusing. Even after being in this industry writing insurance policies for over 30 years, I at times must re-read policy forms (yes, I’m a true insurance geek that reads entire policies). It takes several readings at times to understand where the company is giving coverage back and when they are taking it away. We know that many times when an insured and an insurance company don’t agree on the policy language during a claim that is not covered, attorneys join the discussion (ok – we all know it’s called a lawsuit) to determine where coverage is and where it is excluded. (not covered).
California home insurance policies specifically spell out for you perils. Too many times, an agent will discuss the covered ‘perils’, without first explaining what this means. A peril is defined as a noun meaning serious and immediate danger with synonyms of jeopardy, risk, hazard. Etc. (Thank you Merriam-Webster).
I would be remiss not to point out (as I often do on this subject), that home insurance policies vary from company to company. When people shop for their insurance to save money, I most often caution when it comes to this coverage line. An auto policy doesn’t have a lot of variations, just different limits and deductibles for the most part; but a home policy has drastically different limits, endorsements, exclusions, coverage enhancements etc.
A policy will specifically tell you what perils or ‘hazards’ they will cover when it comes to the dwelling and the contents, and the lists ‘can vary’ slightly – again – depending on the company. Most policies however protect your personal belongings (items inside of your home and detached structures that are ‘not’ excluded), against the following: fire or lightening, aircraft, smoke, explosion, riot or civil commotion, falling objects, sudden and accidental injury from electrical currents, theft, weight of ice and snow, vehicles, windstorm or hail, volcanic eruption, freezing of plumbing, heating systems and appliances, sudden and accidental tearing asunder of heating systems and appliances, and accidental discharge of water or steam.
One of these perils I want to particularly caution people about. In Northern California, weight of ice and snow is a MAJOR exposure. The possibility that you could have a roof of your home or any outbuilding collapse due to the heavy snow, happens, oh – only every winter!
There are several policies that are written however, that do NOT include weight of ice and snow!!! Be very careful of this issue regarding mobile or modular homes, rental dwellings (homes that you rent for others to live in or just let others live in rent free), as well as any home that is written under a Basic Form, Standard Form, or Repair Cost policy. (Forms would be an entirely separate blog).
As always, we are here to assist you with your insurance education whether you are a client of ours or not, so do not hesitate to contact us. Our phone number/fax/number and text are all now one and the same and we would welcome your call.