No one likes to think about getting sued, but accidents happen all the time. And when they happen around your home, you could be liable for them.
That’s why home insurance offers liability protection. It can help pay for legal bills and settlement costs that might otherwise drain your bank account (and then some) when someone is hurt on or because of your property.
Let’s take a look at some common situations your personal liability insurance may cover.
1. When the dog bites
We know – your beloved pup wouldn’t hurt a fly! At most, your fur baby might lick someone into submission.
But if the day ever comes that Sparky defends your honor with his teeth, your liability coverage can typically cover the bitten person’s medical bills so long as your policy has animal liability insurance. (In some cases, you may need to add this coverage through an endorsement or possibly buy a separate policy.) If the injured person sues you over the dog bite, your liability insurance may cover the legal bills, too.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 4.5 million people suffer dog bites every year! And when you consider that the payout for a dog bite averages about $49,025 per claim , you see just how useful personal liability coverage can be.
2. When you have a swimming pool
As fun as pools are, they’re also what insurance companies call an “attractive nuisance.” This is because swimming pools can tempt people – especially young people – into acting in an unsafe way. The result? Pools are often a big liability exposure for homeowners.
But check your policy. Some homeowners insurance covers swimming pools, but others don’t. Moreover, some insurers only cover liability for pool injuries if your negligence was not a factor in the incident. In other words, you may be required to gate and lock the entrance to your pool and keep it well maintained in order for your coverage to protect you. Some insurers will not protect your pool liability if you have a slide or diving board.
Ask your representative about how your coverage applies to your pool to be safe.
3. When your kid hits a home run … through the neighbor’s window
This is perhaps the only time you’ll regret your kid’s cannon of an arm, but if a baseball shatters your neighbor’s window, your liability insurance can usually help pay for repairs.
In fact, personal liability insurance can cover many situations where you inadvertently cause damage to your neighbor’s property. For example, the personal liability protection in your home insurance typically covers if a fire spreads from your house to your neighbor’s. It can also protect you if a neighbor sues because your tree fell on their fence – assuming you’ve taken good care of that tree.
4. When your guest takes a spill
If your guest falls down the stairs because your handrail wasn’t properly installed, your liability insurance can typically help pay for their medical expenses, shielding you from the cost. That may include:
- Surgical expenses
- Dental work
- Ambulance ride
- ER costs
- Professional nursing services
- Prosthetic devices
- Funeral services
But you aren’t covered in all cases. If you were playing around and accidentally pushed your friend down the stairs? Your coverage usually won’t help you out because the situation was avoidable.
Bonus tip: Your personal liability insurance usually covers damage to your guest’s property. So if a visitor to your home ends up suing after their phone is destroyed by your toddler, you may be able to file a claim.
Even personal liability insurance has its limitations
As awesome as liability insurance is, it has limitations. Not every claim that arises on your property is a covered claim. When something isn’t covered, you will have to pay for damages on your own. This is why you want to ensure that your property is safe and accessible in all the right ways. For example, your liability coverage doesn’t apply to:
- Tenants and their injuries.
- Injuries caused by your car (that’s a job for your car insurance).
- Dog bites from restricted breeds (unless your policy covers these types of dogs!).
- Injuries that could have been avoided.
- Your own injuries or injuries residents of the home experience (that’s what health insurance is for).
To learn more about your liability coverage, just ask us! We’ll be happy to explain what it can and can’t cover.