Homeowners insurance won't pay for everything that trashes your house. HO1 and HO2 policies, for instance, cover a list of specific "perils" and nothing else. The more common HO3 policy covers all perils except the ones the policy exempts. The coverage also extends to the contents of your house -- furniture, books, computers. HO3 exemptions include nuclear accidents and war, along with more mundane dangers.
No homeowners insurance policy covers flooding. If you live in an area at risk for floods, you have to go to the federal flood insurance program to buy coverage. In insurance-speak, flooding only applies to rain after it lands on the ground, or in a river. Your insurance should cover rain that seeps through your roof or water from a burst pipe.
Wind and Downed Trees
In some hurricane-prone parts of the country, the only way to insure against wind damage is through a state insurance pool. Regular commercial insurers find the risk of wind-driven losses too great to cover in their policies. Policies in other parts of the country include a hurricane deductible that requires you to pay thousands more than your regular deductible before your policy kicks in.
If a tree crashes onto your roof, the insurer pays for the damage and removes the tree. If the tree lands on your driveway or your yard and doesn't damage anything, either you pay to have it removed or you leave it where it lies.
The Earth Moves
Most policies will pay out if your home is damaged or destroyed by a volcanic eruption or related perils such as lava flows, ash or shock waves. With other subterranean menaces you're out of luck. Earthquakes and landslides aren't usually covered and neither are expansive soils. These are clay-heavy soils that expand and shrink as they're exposed to water, cracking your foundation in the process.
Some of Your Possessions
Homeowner policies limit the amount of coverage for collectibles and other expensive items -- furs, jewelry, art, stamps, rare comic books. If you want to protect yourself against losing them, you need to pay for additional coverage. If you have a home business, your regular coverage may not protect your equipment or computers if you bought them specifically for business.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.