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Homeowners Insurance: An Introduction

Homeowners insurance protects your financial investment in your home.

Home Owners Insurance

Based on your individual needs, you choose specific coverage to provide as much protection as you think necessary.Homeowners insurance is designed to pay for damages to your home and its contents. It also helps protect you from financial liability if someone were injured on your property. Please take time to understand how homeowners insurance works and how it can help you avoid serious financial difficulties.


A homeowners policy protects you against property losses caused by covered perils and for damages to others for which the law holds you responsible. With a basic policy, any risk that is not specifically mentioned in the policy is not covered.

Homeowners policies vary by company more than by state. The chart below illustrates typical coverages under a basic homeowners policy.

Covered Item Description/Explanation Possible Exclusions
Dwelling Residence, attached / built-in garage

Deliberate damage you do to your own or someone else's property; normal wear and tear; defective design, construction, materials or workmanship; inadequate maintenance; floods (except if you purchase a separate flood insurance policy), including tidal surge; pet damage; damage by birds, rodents and insects; pollution damage; earthquakes, except whean covered by a special endorsement; water damage resulting from overflow from a sump or sewer/drain backup, except when covered by a special endorsement

Private Structures

Includes structures that are not attached to the house, such as detached garages, storage sheds and fences

Personal Property

Covers household furnishings and personal belongings owned by or used by you while it is anywhere in the world. Typically covered for perils, such as lightning, theft, fire, smoke, wind, and explosion.

Motorized vehicles, such as your lawn tractor or motorized wheelchair are covered. Other vehicles, like your car, ATV, or snowmobile, are better covered by a separate auto policy.

With a basic policy, any peril that's not specifically mentioned in the policy isn't covered. Generally has the same exclusions that apply to the dwelling coverage.

Some categories of property items are subject to special limits (e.g., jewelry)

Additional Living Expenses

Covers the additional costs of living in case you have to move out of your home and live in a hotel or rental while your residence is being repaired or replaced.

Personal Liability

Covers judgments or settlements from lawsuits or claims, if you're found to be legally responsible for damages or injuries to others, on or off your property. The insurance company will defend you against any suit seeking these damages.

Injury to an insured member of your household; damage done intentionally; vehicles/watercraft/aircraft; business liability; professional services; controlled substances; abuse; communicable disease; emotional and mental anguish

Medical Payments to Others

Covers medical expenses paid within 3 years of an accident causing bodily injury. There's no need to prove the law would hold you responsible.

Exclusions and additional coverage

Read your homeowners policy carefully to find out what is excluded—not covered—by your policy. In addition to excluding specific perils, basic homeowners policies may also exclude:

  • Property and liability coverage for tenants, roomers, or boarders. Tenants can purchase renters insurance to cover their personal property and personal liability.
  • Business liability for damages resulting from home business activities and professional services, as well as injuries or property damage as a result of business activities.

You can expand your basic homeowners insurance policy by purchasing coverage for:

  • Reasonable repairs to prevent a further loss, such as repairing a patio that was damaged in a storm to prevent further erosion.
  • Lightning damage to trees, plants, shrubs, and lawns.
  • Fire department service charges
  • Earthquakes
  • Costs caused by ordinances or laws that regulate the construction, repair, demolition, or zoning of buildings.
  • Water Damage from backed up drains or sewers and overflow from sump pump wells
  • Floods. To purchase flood insurance contact MetLife Auto & Home Insurance Agency, Inc., at
    1-877-638-0022, which offers separate flood insurance policies as an authorized carrier participating in a program which is administered by federal government. Go here for details.

What if someone got hurt on my property?

If you or members of your household were hurt on your property, your medical expenses would typically be covered by your health insurance policy. They will not be covered by homeowners insurance.

Homeowners insurance provides basic liability coverage that protects you and family members who are part of your household, if someone finds you legally responsible for injuries or damages, either on or off your property. You can be held legally liable for such events even though you didn't intend for them to happen. Liability coverage includes the following:

  • Legal defense costs
  • Payments for first aid to others at the scene of an accident
  • Payments for damage to someone else's property caused by you or your family (e.g., your child hits a baseball through your neighbor's window).
  • Payments for reasonable expenses and for lost wages or salary up to the per day limit if you attend a hearing or trial at our request.

Note that bodily injury and property damage generally are not covered while you are operating a motor vehicle, airplane, or boat. You need separate policies for these activities.



Ask yourself the following questions when deciding how much insurance you need:

  • How much would it cost to replace my home today? You may need the help of a professional for an estimate — ask a real estate appraiser, builder, or your insurance agent. If you've made big improvements to your home, such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a deck, make sure your insurance policy is updated to reflect the increased value
  • Am I protected for inflation? Many companies automatically adjust policies for inflation; if so, your premiums would go up to cover the rising cost of replacement. A policy from us automatically has an inflation-adjustment feature at no additional cost. Review your policy every year to see if your coverage limits are adequate.
  • Am I planning any additions or renovations? Adding a family room or finishing a basement could increase the value of your home and the amount of coverage needed. Remember to inform your insurance company of any additions or renovations, otherwise you may not have enough coverage if you sustained a loss.
  • Is my personal property covered? If you have valuable possessions, such as computers, cameras, jewelry, musical instruments, etc., you may want to buy optional coverage designed for these types of property and without any deductible.

Are there other types of property insurance?

Yes, learn about these types of property insurance:



Ask about multiple policy discounts. Some insurance companies offer a discount if you carry more than one type of policy with the company (e.g., homeowners and auto insurance).

Ask if any other discounts are available. For example, if you are at least 55 years old, or if you have been insured with the same insurer for several years, you may qualify for lower premiums.

Choose a higher deductible. Your deductible is the portion of each covered loss you pay before your insurance company will begin paying for the loss. The higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premium. When choosing a deductible amount, be sure to consider how much you can afford to pay up front (i.e., your deductible) in the event of an unexpected loss.

Reduce your risks. Many insurance companies offer discounts for safety features, such as automatic fire sprinkler systems, central burglar and fire alarms, dead bolt locks, smoke detectors, and fire extinguishers.



Helpful Websites

MetLife Auto & Home's homeowners web pages can assist you with your home insurance needs, whether you own or rent a house, condo, or mobile home. For information about other Life Advice® topics, go to

Insurance Information Institution
The Insurance Information Institute offers free, informational booklets and on-line information. You may also download The Insurance Information Institute's free home inventory software at

National Association of Insurance Commissioners
To get information about insurance in your state, contact your state's insurance department. You can access all 50 state insurance department websites from this link.

Other Resources

The Insurance Information Institute offers free, informational booklets, covering such topics as:

  • Am I Covered?
  • Insurance for Your House and Personal Possessions
  • Home Inventory
  • How to File an Insurance Claim
  • Renter's Insurance
  • Settling Insurance Claims After a Disaster
  • Twelve Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs

You can download the booklets at


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