Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

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You may be wondering how your homeowners insurance will be affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While other forms of personal insurance, such as life, health and auto, are more extensively touched by the virus, some aspects of homeowners and renters insurance can be complicated by the virus.

Homeowners and renters with insurance are most likely to see the effects of the coronavirus appear in areas related to their billing or claims service.

How will the coronavirus affect my homeowners insurance?

How does coronavirus affect my home insurance billing and service?

Many insurance providers have waived late fees and suspended service cancellations for customers who can't make payments because of coronavirus. Residents of the hardest-hit states can find specific resources by contacting their agents or representatives online.

Some insurers who have adjusted payment policies include:

  • State Farm
  • Allstate
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Travelers
  • USAA
  • Farmers

Notably, some customers of Erie homeowners insurance can get coverage for gift cards that go unused as a result of COVID-19. If you have a gift card for a locally owned and operated business that closes within a year, you could be reimbursed up to $250 per card, or up to $500 overall. This feature will be added to typical policies at no cost.

The pandemic has also affected the way policyholders can make claims. Generally, customers will now experience longer wait times and will have to submit more information electronically, such as photos or video. In the event you have to make a claim, contact your insurer online for information on their new process.

In most cases, insurers have halted in-person visits from their insurance adjusters. While adjusters will still visit your home in emergencies, as for ongoing water damage, insurance providers have transitioned their claims process online.

Will homeowners insurance cover working from home?

The coronavirus has caused many of the nation's workers to work from home in some capacity. Whether your homeowners or renters insurance extends its coverage to these types of activities is highly contingent on your circumstances.

For insurance purposes, a business refers to any professional activity that earns more than an amount specified by your provider, usually about $2,000 per 12-month period.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies typically provide only limited coverage to business-related property. For instance, homeowners insurance covers a fraction of the personal property used for business — up to $2,500 for most property, including $1,500 for electronics away from your home.

While these restrictions mean that your policy might cover a damaged laptop or screen you brought from the office. However, if you brought a lot of equipment home and it's stolen or breaks, you might have to pay out-of-pocket for some expenses.

Can you be sued for getting someone sick?

While your personal liability — which covers lawsuits brought against you or injuries to others — doesn't cover communicable disease, it's very unlikely that you have to worry about getting sued for getting someone else sick with COVID-19. In most cases, it's simply too difficult to prove that someone's actions caused infection in another person.

The only reason that COVID-19 might lead you to consider increasing your liability insurance is if it causes you or your family to engage in riskier behavior than normal. For instance, given that walks are one of the few avenues of exercise open, there may be a greater chance of your dog biting a passerby.

Does homeowners insurance cover lost rent from home sharing?

Some people who derive a percentage of their incomes from home-sharing might be able to use their homeowners insurance to recover a portion of lost revenue. However, there are a number of restrictions on using your insurance this way since home-sharing can be classified as a small business.

Under your policy's loss of use coverage, your homeowners insurance can provide reimbursements for rent that is lost due to a government order. Communities that have restrictions on incoming travel could fall under this provision, as long as your home-sharing isn't a business.

If you qualify for loss of use coverage, it's common that insurers will only reimburse you for a couple of weeks after a government order is rendered.

Insurers control the coverage they afford home-sharing with restrictions on the revenue you can make from renters and the frequency you share your home. You can't make more than $2,000 per 12 months and receive loss of use coverage, for example, since your home would be considered a business.

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst is a Technical Writer at ValuePenguin who specializes in home and renters insurance. He previously taught composition and research at Wright State University.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.