Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

Does Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

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With the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be curious about how your homeowners insurance has been affected. 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 pandemic appear in areas related to their billing or claims service.

How will the coronavirus affect my homeowners insurance?

How does the coronavirus affect my home insurance billing and service?

Many insurance providers previously waived late fees and suspended service cancellations for customers who couldn't make payments because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several insurance providers offered grace periods to policyholders who had plans before July 1, 2020. Residents of the hardest-hit states can find specific resources by contacting their agents or representatives online.

Some insurers that have adjusted payment policies include:

  • State Farm - No specific services offered for homeowners insurance.
  • Allstate - No specific services offered for homeowners insurance.
  • Liberty Mutual - Previously waived late fees, starting to resume on-site damage inspections for homes in less affected states.
  • Travelers - Policy cancellations for non-payment have resumed. However, payment arrangements may be offered.
  • USAA - Policy cancellations for non-payment have resumed. However, payment arrangements may be offered.
  • Farmers - Offers extended and expanded identity fraud coverage for those with a homeowners insurance plan including the service.

Notably, some customers of Erie homeowners insurance can get coverage for gift cards that go unused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 videos. In the event that you have to make a claim, contact your insurer online for information on its new process.

In most cases, insurers have halted in-person visits from their insurance adjusters. While adjusters will still visit your home in emergencies, such as for ongoing water damage, insurance providers have transitioned their claims process online. Some companies like Liberty Mutual are offering virtual home visits with the permission of the homeowner.

Will homeowners insurance cover working from home?

The coronavirus pandemic 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, it may not cover the full costs of replacing technology or certain tools. If you brought a lot of equipment home and it gets 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. 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 income 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 how often 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.

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