Slip and Fall on Your Property: What Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover?

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You may know that your homeowners’ insurance will cover medical and other expenses in the event that a visitor is injured in your home or on your property. But what about injuries sustained by you or your family members while on your own property? Will homeowners’ insurance cover those injuries as well?

The short answer is no. Your homeowners’ insurance will not cover medical expenses for injuries to you or other family members covered by your insurance policy, even if they occur on your property. So what is the difference between your injury and a visitor’s injury? To answer that, we’ll need to look in detail at what kinds of things your homeowners’ policy covers and, more importantly, why.

The Basics

Why do we need homeowners’ insurance in the first place? Your first answer may be something along the lines of “because my mortgage company said so” or “in case my house burns down.” And those are definitely valid answers, but they really only scratch the surface of the kinds of risks and losses that your homeowners’ policy covers.

Broadly, homeowners’ policies cover three categories of possible losses: the structure of your home, your personal property, and your liability as a property owner.

The Structure of Your Home

This is what you probably think of first when you think about your homeowners’ insurance. Most people know that homeowners’ insurance will cover many types of damage to your home and property. Homeowners need to be prepared to cover the expenses of routine maintenance and repairs to the home. Those expenses can be considerable, but they are usually accounted for in your budget. However, even the best budgeting will not prepare you for much larger and unexpected losses. Some examples include:

  • Damage caused by severe weather events, such as hail damage, damages from fallen trees or branches, or damage caused by a buildup of snow and ice from a winter storm
  • Certain unforeseeable or unavoidable damage, like a burst pipe due to freezing.
  • Fire or lightning damage
  • Damage from theft, vandalism, or rioting.

In short, your homeowners’ policy protects you from damages to your home, or even its total destruction, that would be difficult or impossible to deal with on your own. (Remember that certain types of damage, such as flooding, may not be covered. Make sure you know what your specific policy does and does and does not cover.)

Your Personal Property

Homeowners’ insurance typically covers not only the structure of your home, but also your personal belongings. It may not be the first thing you think of, but the possessions in your home also hold considerable value. These items would also be covered if lost or damaged under the same circumstances described above or other events covered in your policy.

It may seem obvious that your possessions would be included if they were damaged in an event that also damaged the structure of your home, such as a fire or storm. What you may not know is that your homeowners’ policy also covers damage or loss of your belongings that occurs somewhere other than your home or property. For example, if your wedding ring is stolen from your car or gym locker, that would be covered under a homeowners’ policy.

Don’t forget to inventory your belongings, especially the large and/or expensive items, so that you have documentation for the insurance company in the event of a loss. It’s best to take pictures in addition to writing things down. That way there is no question about your possession of certain items in the event that they are stolen or completely destroyed.

Your inventory will also help you determine the approximate value of your possessions so you can make sure to purchase sufficient coverage to replace them if necessary.

Liability Coverage

The last category covered by your homeowners’ insurance is liability. Liability refers to your legal responsibility for damages and injuries that occur on your property. If someone falls on your property, they may claim that you are at fault as the homeowner and, therefore, responsible for their medical bills and other expenses. This is the type of coverage that results in your insurance company paying for medical expenses due to an accident on your property.

Liability coverage also includes the insurance company’s “duty to defend,” which means that they will pay for your legal expenses in the event that someone files a lawsuit against you after being injured on your property. For someone’s medical expenses to be covered by your homeowners’ policy, they must show that some negligence on your part, rather they their own reckless or careless actions, caused their accident. It is often necessary to resolve the question of negligence through the legal system, and that process can be very expensive. So your liability coverage protects you from hefty legal fees as well.

Returning to the Original Question

On the other hand, if you or another covered family member is injured on your property, the issue of liability does not come into play. Therefore, your homeowners’ insurance will not pay for your medical expenses from such an accident. Your injuries will be covered under your personal health insurance policy, and you should deal with them just as you would any other healthcare expenses.

In other words, while your insurance may pay for medical expenses if someone else is injured on your property, this type of coverage is not related to the fact that an injury required medical attention per se. Rather, it is related to protecting you from someone making legal claims against you that could impose a significant financial burden on you because you own and are responsible for the property where their injury occurred.

To sum up, homeowners’ insurance covers a range of issues related to protecting you in your capacity as a homeowner, and your own injuries on your property do not fall under that umbrella.

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