Whether it’s a full-blown remodeling project or the addition of a new feature, many home improvement projects aren’t covered by standard homeowners insurance. If you’re planning to upgrade your home, it’s important to connect with your insurance agent first to find out if you need to purchase additional coverage or update your existing policy. Here are a few examples of home installations and additions you might not know require extra insurance.
Fun features added to homes are known as recreational amenities. Trampolines and swimming pools can be a lot of fun, but they also bring a whole new set of risks. These features are highly attractive to minors, which significantly increases the risk of injury right off the bat. Whether it’s a child who hasn’t received proper swimming lessons or an overly confident parent trying to show off their moves on the trampoline, the increased liability risk requires additional coverage.
All additions, be it a deck, pool house, second story, or an extra bedroom, require coverage. Additions involve creating more property and often attaching it directly onto the home. As the amount of property you own expands and increases, so does the risk associated with your home — therefore, your insurance must increase, too.
Finishing your basement
Finishing a basement often involves adding new rooms and tearing down or building new walls, which can affect the structural integrity of the home. Insurance can protect you if something is measured or calculated incorrectly. Basement upgrades can also involve new plumbing or electrical features, which bring even more risk. To enjoy your new finished basement, you’ll need coverage.
Installing a new roof, replacing windows, upgrading siding, and replacing gutters are all weatherproofing home improvement projects that require coverage. Updating the materials used in your home adds the risk of any of these projects going haywire or causing issues down the road. The results will likely be worth it, but make sure to reach out to your agent before getting started.
Are you planning to add a garden or update an existing one? Even if no damage occurs during the project’s execution, adding trees and shrubs can create potential future risks. Review the location of your sewage lines or septic tank before digging. As plants grow and their roots expand, the risk of interfering with this system increases significantly. Your homeowners insurance will not cover this kind of mishap.
You need coverage even if you complete any of these home improvement projects on your own. While your homeowners insurance policy may protect you if you get injured (double check with your agent first), it won’t protect the materials you use to complete any projects from theft or damage. You’ll need to get a builder’s risk policy, which will cover any materials used for the duration of the project. Some materials, like copper, are highly attractive to thieves, so it’s important to be covered before you get to work.
Hiring professional help
If you hire contractors to help with any projects, it’s crucial to check their coverage first. Contractors and subcontractors need to be equipped with liability coverage, workers’ compensation, and builder’s risk coverage before they’re hired. Liability coverage protects against any errors made on the job that cause immediate or future damage. Workers’ compensation covers any injuries sustained while completing the job on your property.
Builder’s risk insurance protects the materials needed to complete the projects for the entire time they’re on your property, stored in a warehouse, or in transit. If workers are not adequately covered, you could end up paying out of pocket for their mistakes or stolen materials. Lastly, if a worker lacks coverage and gets injured while working on your property, they could sue you.
Work with your agent
It’s essential to stay in touch with your insurance agent throughout the entire home improvement process. Any upgrades you make to your home could increase its value, which may require an update to your homeowners policy. Failure to report these changes to your agent could result in your homeowners insurance becoming invalidated. Keep them in the loop from the beginning of all projects to have the best shot at protecting yourself and your home.
Paul Martin, CPCU, is an insurance professional for Trusted Choice with over 30 years’ experience in the field. Throughout his career, his mission has been to advance the insurance industry through education to be better equipped to serve the public.