Business news from the Fredericksburg region.
Know what’s insured
BY CATHY JETT
Last year’s earthquake and its aftershocks did more than rock the Fredericksburg region.
It also surprised many homeowners, who discovered to their dismay that their insurance policies didn’t cover quake-related damages.
But toppled chimneys and cracked foundations aren’t the only things that most people don’t realize they’ll have to pick up the tab for if they don’t have an endorsement to their existing policy or didn’t buy an additional one.
Here are five things a typical homeowners policy doesn’t cover:
Water lines: Homeowners own the water supply line that runs between the curb or street and their house. While insurance will cover damage done by a water line that breaks or leaks in a house, homeowners are responsible repairing the line.
The cost for this normally runs from $1,500 to $3,000, but the price tag can be considerably higher if a road has to be ripped up or trees removed to get to the source of the leak, according to Dominion Virginia Power. It offers customers a Water Line Replacement Program, and the monthly fee is determined by the distance from the dwelling to the curb or street.
Sewer lines: Just like water supply lines, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the pipeline that runs from the sewer main, which is usually located in the street or a public right-of-way, to their house.
Sewer backups or the inability of sump pumps to handle runoff water from major downpours are not covered under a typical homeowners insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance, according to Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.
“Those types of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowners policy,” she said. “Sewer backup coverage is available from most insurers for a nominal cost—usually an additional annual premium of $40–$50.”
Hurricanes: High winds and storm surges accompanying tropical storms have done considerable damage to buildings in the Fredericksburg area over the years. While a standard policy covers wind and hail damage, it won’t pay for flood damage.
“That’s the one where it hits people,” said Shane Cantrell, an insurance agent with Cliff Galyen Jr.’s State Farm insurance agency in Spotsylvania County.
Flooding can be caused by everything from storm surges to saturated ground to slow leaks in water pipes. Water can even back up behind storm drains during torrential downpours.
It only takes few inches of flood water seeping into a house to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. Over the past five years, the average paid flood insurance claim was nearly $34,000, according to the National Flood Insurance Program’s website, floodsmart.gov.
Insurance through the national program and from a few private insurers is available to homeowners and renters whether they live in a high-risk area or not. The cost varies depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property’s flood risk.
Hurricane season officially got under way June 1 and runs through the end of November. There’s usually a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before the policy goes into effect.
Home office: Just because a business is run out of a home doesn’t mean that everything is covered under a standard homeowners policy. Someone offering day care in their house, for example, should get liability insurance and those with a lot of expensive office equipment probably needs additional coverage.
“A policy will only cover so much office equipment,” Cantrell said. “The standard with us is $5,000. We can cover more as an endorsement, but we need to know.”
Maintenance damage: Homeowners need to take reasonable precautions to protect their home from damage. An insurance policy won’t cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold, termite infestation and infestation from other pests, Worters said.
Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407