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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Structural Damage?

Insurance companies generally don’t cover structural damage. Depending on your policy, they may or may not cover damages to your foundation. You are likely not to get any coverage if the damage can be classified as maintenance-related concerns. Whether you have an “all risk” or a general homeowners insurance policy, it pays to know what your policy provides for, or how your insurer treats issues related to your foundation. And because structural damages don’t manifest abruptly, the sooner that you find them, the better will be your chances to have them resolved with insurance coverage.

The aftermath of a tornado, hurricane, or flood can cause progressive damage to your foundation. Like a termite or pest infestation, the inherent dilemma is that you don’t get to see the effects readily, they sometimes take months or even years to show visible damage. And when you fail to address these issues promptly, the insurance company can consider them as negligence on your part because water seepage or a termite infestation can mean that you failed to maintain your house well. Maintenance issues or negligence are of course not part of your insurer’s responsibilities and proving that you did your part make a big difference.

Other causes of structural damage include ground collapse due to sinkholes, earth movement, and soil erosion. Water seepage due to roof damage can accumulate and possibly damage your foundation over time. Depending on the inclusions of your policy, acts of nature can be covered. But don’t be relaxed yet, the clarity and promptness of your report matter a lot to the insurance inspector who will try to avoid giving you the payouts. Your tact in dealing with your agent definitely matters.

In cases where there are actual structural issues, the first step is to hire an independent inspector to assess the damage and identify the actual cause. It’s good to have a detailed report because while you hope that your insurer covers all the damage, there can be certain conditions when they just won’t.

Next is to refer to your policy and identify clearly how your circumstances fit into the actual provisions. If your house is located in places identified to be prone to disasters such as sinkholes and tornadoes, it’s very likely that you don’t get to be covered for structural damages or that you would have to pay hefty premium compared to those in other “safer” places. The area where you live, the quality of the soil, and any predisposition to slow but progressive foundation damage are red flags that insurance companies will almost usually avoid.

At any rate, keeping track of any structural damage that your foundation might incur will be essential to the overall integrity of your home and the safety of your family. Your keen attention to the provisions of your current insurance or the one that you consider buying determines whether your home will be covered from structural damage or not.

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