Interior renovations and home insurance
Does homeowners insurance cover HVAC work?
If your HVAC system breaks down due to normal wear and tear, it generally won't be covered by your home insurance policy. There are only a few instances that may allow coverage, such as a fire or a fallen tree.
If you plan to modify your HVAC system with a major upgrade, such as new ductwork, it's best to let your home insurance company know in case you qualify for a home update discount. You shouldn't need to increase your dwelling coverage unless you're also changing your type of HVAC system (for example, moving from an oil-forced-air furnace to a gas-forced-air furnace).
Does homeowners insurance cover air conditioner replacement?
Air conditioners may be eligible for replacement if they're damaged or destroyed by a covered loss, such as fire or theft. Your coverage can depend on the type of AC system in your home. Central air systems are part of your home's structure and therefore fall under dwelling coverage. If you have window units, they may fall under your personal property coverage.
Are attic and basement renovations covered?
Only basement or attic repairs resulting from a loss due to a covered peril can be submitted as homeowners insurance claims, specifically under your dwelling coverage.
With attic renovations, primary concerns may be adding insulation and extending HVAC and electrical systems. Like with any major remodel, you should notify your home insurer to increase your dwelling coverage. They may require photos and invoices to make the appropriate adjustments.
Protecting your new basement from water damage
Your basement is usually the first place to experience water damage, so investing in a finished basement may warrant a change to your policy, depending on your plans. For example, if you decide to turn your formerly unfinished basement into a home theater, you should consider raising your personal property coverage limit to protect the eligible additions. Any modifications made to the basement's floor, walls, or ceiling could result in an increase to your dwelling coverage.
If you have a basement, consider water back-up coverage to help cover damage to your latest renovation in case water discharges from a sump or backs up through sewers or drains.
Does homeowners insurance cover home additions?
Home additions can't be paid for through your homeowners coverage since they're not necessitated by a covered peril. And adding to your home's floor plan almost always necessitates updates to your homeowners insurance after remodeling. You'll need to raise your dwelling coverage limit to account for the additional square footage. Talk to your insurer ahead of time to get an estimate of how much your premium will increase when the renovation is complete.
While the project is ongoing, revisit your personal property limit. Homes undergoing major renovations can be targets for criminals, so make sure any belongings that remain in the home are covered. Keep in mind that if your dwelling will be vacant or unoccupied, it's no longer eligible for personal property coverage.
Also, consider increasing your personal liability coverage in case someone gets injured during renovations. Your contractor's commercial insurance policy should cover any injuries their workers suffer, but a lapse in their coverage could ultimately fall on your shoulders. If you're knocking out an exterior wall or adding a second story, you may even consider purchasing builders risk insurance if you're concerned about the level of coverage provided by your contractor's insurance.
Outdoor renovations and home insurance
Does homeowners insurance cover hot tubs and pools?
Homeowners insurance may cover pool or hot tub damage as long as the damage is caused by a covered loss — and as long as your policy includes your pool or hot tub (usually under your dwelling, personal property, or other structures coverage).
If you're installing a new swimming pool, the Insurance Information Institute recommends raising your home insurance liability limits to $300,000 – $500,000 or more. A separate umbrella policy can also cover you in the event of an accident or disaster.
Does insurance cover deck replacements?
Deck replacements may be covered under your homeowners insurance dwelling coverage if the replacement is necessitated by a covered peril.
Regardless of your reason for replacing your deck, talk to your insurance company about increasing your dwelling limit after the renovation. Adding or replacing a deck can boost your home's value but will require more funds to rebuild if damaged. Keep receipts for labor and materials, note the material types and square footage, and take plenty of photos to help your insurer calculate how much additional coverage you need.
Do I need homeowners insurance for landscaping?
Landscaping might be covered under your policy's other structures or dwelling coverage, which may help pay to remove damaged trees and replace plants and shrubs if they're damaged by a listed peril. If you plan to make significant improvements to the land surrounding your home, talk to your insurer about what might be covered. Insurance companies may limit landscaping coverage to a percentage of your home's value.
Does home insurance cover repairs to detached garages, sheds, and driveways?
Secondary structures such as sheds and detached garages fall under your home insurance policy's other structures coverage. While your insurance won't cover normal wear and tear, it may cover damage caused by a covered loss such as a storm.
If you decide to add a new garage or shed to your property, your insurer might use replacement cost estimates to calculate how much coverage you'll need. Provide details about the anticipated size, materials, and amenities like electricity or heating. Most driveways are also covered by the other structures portion of your insurance policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover roof replacement?
Roof replacements may only be claimed through homeowners insurance if your roof was damaged by a covered loss. Keep in mind that replacing your roof after decades of wear and tear isn't covered by insurance. Check your policy's dwelling coverage to find out more.
When updating your home insurance policy due to a new roof, your premium may actually decrease. A new roof offers better protection against inclement weather, reducing the chance that you'll need to file a claim related to water leaks or damage from falling objects. Keep the invoices from your qualified roofing professional and take photos to share with your insurer.
Getting a new roof may result in a lower premium.
Are DIY projects covered by homeowners insurance?
Most DIY projects won't be paid for by your home insurance policy. However, there may be an exception for repairing an item yourself that was damaged by a covered peril if you're in the trade or if your work is inspected by a qualified professional. If you aren't confident in your skills, don't be afraid to hire a pro to complete the job. Your insurer could deny your claim if any mistakes or improper DIY work result in damage to your home.