Most states don't have any legal requirement for you to carry homeowner's insurance, although if you have a mortgage your lender might require it. Since your home is probably your largest single investment, having a comprehensive homeowner's insurance policy makes sense. It can save you big bucks if your home is damaged by a covered event. For example, if a tornado blows through and rips the gutters off of your roof, your homeowner's insurance will pay to repair the damage.
Your homeowner's insurance policy covers damages to your home, including your gutters, provided the damage was sustained during a covered event. Covered events in most standard policies, such as HO-2 and HO-3 policies, include damage from windstorms, fire, lightning, hail, objects falling from the sky, the weight of ice or snow, collision from an aircraft or other motor vehicle, riots, explosions, volcanic eruptions and certain other events. If your gutters were damaged in such an event, you're covered.
If an event is not listed on your homeowner's insurance policy as a covered event, you should assume it is not covered. Some policies specify certain events that are not covered. The most common type of homeowner's policy, the standard HO-3 policy, covers all events with the exception of certain exclusions, such as damage from earthquakes, floods, war, governmental actions, power failure or neglect. For example, if your gutters collapse under the weight of ice, you are probably covered for the loss. If your gutters were clogged with leaves because you failed to maintain them, which prevented the melting snow from draining, resulting in the collapse, you might be on the hook for the repair bill.
Most homeowner's insurance policies involve a deductible. This is the amount of any covered event that you are responsible to pay before your homeowner's insurance kicks in. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible, and it costs $750 to repair your gutters after a covered event, you'll have to pay the entire amount out of pocket, since the cost is less than your deductible. The general rule of thumb is, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium. Weigh the difference between how much you can afford to pay if a covered event happens against how much you can save on your premiums to determine the best deductible for your situation.
Your homeowner's insurance policy won't cover you against intentional damage or shoddy workmanship. If you try to install, replace or repair your gutters and you make a bad job of it, your homeowner's insurance policy won't help you out. If the installation company you hired used faulty materials, you are once again on your own. If you don't properly maintain your gutters and a loss results, you'll have to eat the cost. Knowing the provisions of your homeowner's insurance policy will help you protect yourself against preventable losses and protect you against covered events.
- Brownell Insurance Center: Does My Homeowner’s Insurance Cover Winter Storm Damage?
- Nolo: Homeowners' Insurance: What You Need to Know
- Insurance Information Institute: What Coverage Is Included in a Standard Homeowners Insurance Policy?
- Insurance Information Institute: Are There Different Types of Policies?
- Insurance Information Institute: Homeowners 3 Special Form
- Insure.com: Home Insurance Exclusions: What Your Policy Won't Cover
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.