Updated: 3/20/2012 2:32 PM ET|
Insurance you didn't know you had
Your home, auto and medical coverage could be better than you think. Here are 11 scenarios for which you might be pleasantly surprised to learn you can file a claim.
If you took an ax to your kitchen floor, the damage typically wouldn't be covered by your homeowners insurance. Insurers generally don't cover intentional damage, and whacking a floor with an ax is considered pretty intentional.
Except when the blows are inflicted in the course of dispatching a rattlesnake that slithered into your kitchen, threatening your wife and 3-year-old child.
That's what happened a few years ago to a friend of Bill Sirola, a retired former spokesman for insurer State Farm, and the friend's insurer paid up without a murmur.
"It took him five or six good whacks to kill the thing," Sirola said.
There are plenty of things that insurance won't pay for. But in writing about insurance over the years, I've stumbled across some unexpected things that are covered. Some are pretty esoteric, like actresses insuring their legs or policies that pay out in case of alien abduction. But others are fairly common, and I've picked my 11 favorites among them, starting with my No. 1 of all time:
Cue the rotating disco ball and the 1970s funk music, because many renters and condo insurance policies provide coverage if your bodacious berth bursts.
The insurance applies regardless of what caused the leakage, as long as you didn't intentionally break the bed.
Sometimes the coverage is built in; in other cases, you may need to pay a little extra for a waterbed-liability endorsement. But once you have it, you're covered for damage to your own pad as well as whatever you inflict on your downstairs neighbor.
If a vandal destroys or carries off a loved one's headstone, it might be covered under your homeowners insurance. The damage would be subject to the same restrictions that apply to other coverage, meaning the destruction:
- Exceeds your deductible.
- Is a covered loss.
Theft and vandalism damage are typically covered losses, but natural disasters often aren't.
It turns out that you can get your shiatsu subsidized, depending on your coverage and the circumstances. Your doctor can prescribe massage to help you recover from a car accident or an on-the-job injury, for example. If your insurance covers chiropractic care, it may also cover massage ordered by the chiropractor.
Check your policy for details or talk to your employer's human-resources department.
Run-of-the-mill weight-loss programs aren't covered by most insurance policies, according to the National Institutes of Health, but your insurer may cover prescription weight-control medications and weight-loss surgery.
The latter typically costs $25,000 to $30,000, so coverage is a really big deal. To qualify, though, you have to be morbidly obese -- usually defined as 20% or more above your ideal body weight or with a body mass index of 40 or higher. You may also qualify if you're not quite that heavy but you have a serious weight-related condition, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or severe apnea.
Even if your weight-loss program isn't covered by insurance, you may still be able to defray the cost if it's prescribed by a doctor. In that case, you can use the pretax money you've put in your flexible-spending account at work to pay for it. Flexible-spending plans allow you to pay for a host of other medical expenses that may not be covered by insurance, including smoking-cessation programs, birth control, fertility treatments, orthodontia and (if prescribed by a doctor) over-the-counter medications, including aspirin.
A friend leaves your Super Bowl party, hops into his car and promptly plows into another vehicle. Everybody in the other car winds up in a hospital, and you get sued for serving alcohol to your friend.
There's plenty of variation in state laws, regional court cases and insurer policies, but in general the liability portion of your homeowners insurance can help pay your defense and any damages awarded, up to the limits of your policy.
And there's the rub, because many homeowners policies limit liability protection to $300,000 or so. You'd be smart to investigate getting at least a $1 million personal liability or umbrella policy if you're a homeowner.
Also, your coverage may depend on you not doing something egregiously stupid, like serving a minor or continuing to serve someone who is already drunk.
For details, talk to your insurance agent.
Parents in most states can be held financially responsible for damage caused by their minor children. Fortunately, many homeowners insurance policies will help pay the bill -- depending on the child's age, the circumstances and the policy language.
A big exception: Insurance policies won't pay for damage resulting from "intentional," "malicious" or "illegal" acts.
If your little Sally accidentally knocks a baseball through the neighbor's plate-glass window, your homeowners insurance may kick in. If she hurls a brick through the same window, though, you're on your own for the costs of the replacement -- and for the therapy she so desperately needs.
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I think this is an over all good article BUT I will say this. Every state has different laws pertaining to how a policy is written. Every company has to follow those laws. I only saw once a reccomendation for the reader to talk to their agent. It is incredibly important to have a knowledgable agent to guide you when purchasing insurance, no matter what kind of insurance. MY issues with this article are this: 1) the waterbed...generally if the cause of loss is wear and tear, ONLY the water damage will be covered. NOT the waterbed. 2) the college student away at college. In most states, the personal belongs will be covered no matter where the student is living, in an apt or in a dorm, as long as the student is part of the household. The only time the percentage of the personal property is diminished is when you are away from home on a trip. The examples I have given are GENERAL. If you have questions about your policy, you need to ask your agent. If the agent will not or cannot give you the information that you want. And show you precise examples in your policy. THEN FIND ANOTHER AGENT. A GOOD AGENT IS A WONDERFUL THING. We are willing to help. If your agent doesn't want to help, you can find a new one. In each state, the policy is writen by a set of rules, we each sell pretty much the same policy. The only difference we have to offer is our customer service. NOEVER BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS.
The article says: The (renter & condo) insurance applies regardless of what caused the leakage, as long as you didn't intentionally break the (water) bed. If the insurance truly pays out in the case of water damage from a deteriorated or worn out water bed membrane, this is the exact opposite case of many homeowner policies which consider hidden water damage from deteriorated (rusted or leaky) plumbing and bath fixtures as a natural occurrence - not suddenly and totally failing, therefore not an accident and you do not receive one penny.
How about insurance insurance? To cover the insurance when the insurance doesn't cover the insured.
still waiting on the zombie apokolypse
This info switches from Home owners to Auto health and Renters Insurance policies, that some cover this peril other do not but switching from policies they will get sometimes covered.
As it was said by someone, also varies from State to State laws. Remember One nation(?) 50 different ( Independent???) States!
Well, as to damage caused by stupid kids...half the kids out there have below average intelligence,so too, do their parents,most likely. Those folks tend to read very little,and haven't seen,nor will read this story or their homeowners insurance,even if they have such a policy. So,I guess that we folks who enjoy above average intelligence shouldn't be concerned about a spate of insurance claims arising after publication of this article, as the dumb folks are/will remain unaware.
Years ago, a public adjuster whom I knew,told me that about 80% of the residential fires in the USA, occurred in homes owned or occupied by poor people, his euphemism for dumb folks.
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A Fidelity study found that adult kids and their folks aren't on the same page when it comes to discussing finances.
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