Keep Your Homeowners Insurance Up-to-date
A friend and neighbor converted the attic of his century-old farmhouse into finished living space last summer, complete with radiant floor heat. Later that fall after the heat was turned on, he noticed dampness seeping through the dining room walls. It seems that some thirsty mice had chewed through the radiant tubing in search of water. He then discovered that his homeowner's policy did not cover rodent damage. All the repair costs to three floors had to come out of his pocket.
Though unlikely, this example illustrates that it's a good idea to periodically review your policy. The coverage you received when you purchased your home might not be enough now. Mortgage lenders typically require enough to repay the mortgage, not return a home to the condition it was before a disaster strikes. Also, any additions or converted unfinished space will increase your home's value. Make sure your policy keeps pace.
Many homeowners in the New York area who thought they had adequate coverage before Sandy struck had a rude awakening. Which is not to say that policies do not cover damage from water. If a water heater bursts, a hurricane rips holes in the roof or breaks windows, allowing rain water to pour down or blow in, policies will usually pay for the damage. But if a river overflows its banks, a storm surge drives water over a sea wall, or a levee breaks, your homeowner's insurance company does not want to hear about it. Rule of thumb: Water coming down, OK; water coming up, NOT OKAY. Supplemental flood insurance would be needed in those instances.
One other thing to be aware of: If you have a sump pump in your basement or are hooked up to your town's sewer, you need an additional rider on your policy to cover a failure of these systems. If your furnace gets destroyed by a backup in the main sewer line, you would be out of luck without this additional protection.