Homeowners insurance covers more than you think

By Anthony GiorgianniConsumer Reports

You probably know that homeowners and renters insurance covers property inside your home from losses due to theft, fire, and other calamities. But you may not be aware that it also protects you from other types of situations, including many losses that occur outside your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

That’s why it’s a good idea to read your policy. You’ll probably find some big surprises. Here are some examples.

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Away-from-home losses. Property outside your home typically is protected for up to 10 percent of your policy’s total personal property coverage. So if your possessions are covered for $125,000, belongings outside your home are typically insured for up to $12,500, including possessions in your car and vacation rental home, and your child’s property while it's in a college dormitory. (Possessions in a dorm may not be subject to the 10 percent limit. Check the policy).

For more information, check our homeowners insurance buying guide and Ratings.

Liability outside your home. Did you accidentally injure somebody away from your home? Did your dog bite someone or damage another person's property? You’re probably covered for that too, including the cost of defending yourself in court and any court awards. (Certain breeds of dog or dogs with a history of causing bite injuries may not be covered, so check your policy.)

Credit card losses. You’re typically covered for up to $500 of unauthorized use of your credit, debit, or ATM card.

Counterfeit money. You’re also covered if you receive counterfeit cash or you’re a victim of a forged check (including if your signature is forged on a stolen check). The protection generally is limited to $500 to $1,000, although your deductible usually doesn’t apply.

Trees, plants, and shrubs. These typically are covered up to five percent of the insured value of your home, up to $500 per item, although losses due to wind or disease are excluded.

When pondering these protections, don’t forget to review your coverage limits and adjust them if needed. Also, think about adding special coverage for certain items, such as fine art and valuable jewelry, which may not be adequately covered under a standard policy.

Anthony Giorgianni

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