Does home insurance cover foundation damage?

Does home insurance cover foundation damage?

Cracks, leaks, a shift in the soil, and other types of damage to your home’s foundation are not only harmful to the structure but also expensive to repair.

If you have home insurance and your policy covers the event that caused the foundation damage, it may be covered. This may help you to avoid paying the substantial cost of repairing it. For example, if your policy covers floods, you’ll be covered if a flood damages the foundation.

However, in Australia, when it comes to home and contents insurance policies, the terms of disaster coverage can be quite broad. This can result in underinsurance, where you need to pay a huge proportion of the cost of repairs out of pocket, despite having home insurance.

Understanding when your house foundation repair will be covered by homeowners insurance could be the difference between a successful claim and having to dip into your savings in an emergency.

When can you use your home insurance for your home’s foundation?

The events your insurer chooses to cover in your home insurance policy are often included to protect you from sudden or unplanned situations like vandalism or acts of nature. For example, some commonly included events are:

  • Vandalism
  • Fire
  • Large objects like trees falling
  • Storms

Simultaneously, you might have to pay an additional premium to get cover in events like floods and earthquakes.

To get an understanding of which events your policy covers, it’s a good practice to thoroughly read your product disclosure statement (PDS). Your PDS will list all the events that are covered along with the details of any limitations that apply.

Is soil shift caused by floods covered by home insurance?

While floods can be covered in your home insurance policy, soil shifts aren’t. If the soil shifted due to a flood, however, you can raise a claim. Whether this sort of claim is possible depends on whether the flood is a direct or indirect cause of the shifting soil.

If you can demonstrate that a flood directly caused a landslide or erosion event and your policy provides flood cover, you’re eligible to claim. However, if the flood caused a subtle change to the soil’s consistency, which then shifted later. Under these circumstances, your claim will likely be rejected even if your policy covers floods.

The details of whether you’re covered or not can be confusing, especially because each insurer defines things differently. So it’s always a good idea to read the PDS carefully before choosing an insurer. You could also consider contacting your insurer directly to understand the exact details of your cover.

When does your home insurance not cover your home’s foundation?

What is specifically covered differs from one insurer to another. Most policies, however, don’t cover events that were either avoidable or preventable like:

  • Pre-existing damage
  • Faulty construction
  • Periodical wear and tear
  • Shifting soil
  • Damage caused by tree roots
  • Damage caused by termites
  • Damage caused due to negligence or illegal activities

Insurers often believe you should’ve noticed them or you could’ve prevented them from escalating during the early stages. Due to this belief that any damage caused by these events could’ve been prevented, insurers are unlikely to include them in your policy cover.

What to do if the damage to your foundation isn't covered

In most cases, if the damage to your house’s foundation is caused by a source that is not covered by your insurance, you will need to pay for the repairs yourself.

However, before you give up, you could consider hiring a foundation specialist for a second opinion if your claim is denied. For example, if your insurer claims that flooding was an indirect cause of your house’s foundation damage, consult a foundation specialist to confirm it was the direct cause.

It’s also beneficial to consider the location of your house and events that are known to frequently occur when choosing your insurance policy. For example, if bushfires are a common occurrence in your area, consider opting for a policy that covers them. So, before selecting a home insurance policy that covers foundation repair, you could browse through different options to choose one that matches your requirements.

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Learn more about home insurance

Does home insurance cover accidental damage?

Home insurance offers cover for any damage to your house and most policies cover the main building, garage, permanent attachments, and other external buildings that can be locked. 

Every insurance policy lists the defined events that will be covered, such as fires, floods, lightning strikes, theft, or falling trees. A few may also offer the option of accidental damage home insurance cover for other possible mishaps and unintentional damage around the home, such as when the dog knocks over the TV, or when red wine is spilled on the carpet.

The home insurance accidental damage cover is available only for the address provided at the time of buying the policy. 

Is hail damage covered by home insurance?

If storms are among the incidents covered by your home insurance policy, hail damage protection is more than likely assured. While all policies differ based on your needs and what a home insurance provider will offer, some things are close to a certainty. 

Extreme weather events tend to be unpredictable in their severity, but dangerous all the same. You'll never be able to fully prepare for any damage caused, be it lightning, strong winds, rain leading to flooding, or hailstorms, but home insurance can at least provide you with a way to deal with life's unpredictable nature. 

If your home suffers from hail damage, you can file a claim with your insurer. In the event that this happens, remember to take pictures of any hail damage as an insurance adjuster will need to evaluate the impact on your home. Any additional wind damage to your roof will also need to be documented similarly.

You may want to check if your home insurance also covers hail damage to the cars parked on your property, and then file the claim for the total damage caused by the hailstorm. Once your claim is approved, your insurer should offer you either a cash settlement or refer you to a network vendor for the necessary repairs.

Does home insurance cover tree root damage?

While trees can add much beauty to your property, they can be an indirect cause of damage to your home. For instance, a storm could knock branches off trees on to your roof or windows. A really strong storm may even cause the tree to topple entirely. 

Home insurance may not directly cover tree damage to your house. However, the policy will likely cover the incident, such as a storm, which resulted in branches or uprooted trees falling on your home. You can check your home insurance policy’s coverage for various incidents by reading the insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

You should remember that trees can require regular maintenance, just like the plumbing in our homes. Insurers may check whether the tree, its roots or its branches were rotting due to a lack of care, in which case the damage caused by the tree falling on your home may not be considered accidental damage. Again, if a branch falls on your house while you’re trimming it, you may not be able to claim compensation from your insurer for the damage. If any trees are growing too close to the walls of your home, consider checking that none of the branches or roots is causing any stress to your home, which can result in structural damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover structural damage?

The most common causes of structural damage to a property include foundation issues such as settling or ground shifting, hidden structural damage, such as caused by termites, or weather-related damage, like by a tornado or hurricane.

If you’re wondering if structural damage is covered by homeowners insurance, you’re probably not going to like the answer. Most insurance providers don’t include structural damage in home insurance policies because they build the polices to offer protection from loss due to sudden, accidental events, such as fire, burglary or weather-related damage. It can take months or even years for you to discover most foundational or structural damage to your property, and by that time, they become rather costly to repair.

Since it takes a long time to detect, most structural damage is considered a maintenance issue and therefore, your home insurance policy won’t cover it. However, all is not lost. Once you locate the damage and take the necessary steps to not only repair it but also prevent further harm, your insurance policy might cover any subsequent loss. For example, if the foundation has cracks, and it lets water into your home, the water damage could be covered by insurance, but the cracks themselves would not be.

Does home insurance cover termite damage?

It is unlikely that the average home insurance policy will cover damage caused by termites, mice, or other vermin, which are typically the result of negligence. For instance, water may have seeped from a heater or washing machine and dampened the woodwork in your home, attracting termites. Since termites usually build colonies, you’ll need to deal with the existing infestation and also take preventative steps to prevent future termite damage.

Treating your home for termite damage can be quite expensive, and you’ll likely have to make significant repairs depending on the size of the infestation. You may want to check if your neighbours have also had termite damage issues, and consider taking more long-term measures to keep termites away.  For example, you could install a chemically-treated soil barrier or baiting station, both of which may be effective for a few years. 

Consider inspecting your home  for any leakage or seepage from time to time, especially in the flooring or the outer edges of your home, as a precaution against damage by vermin. You may also want to consider hiring a pest control professional who can inspect and treat your home to protect against termites.

What does home insurance cover?

What home insurance specifically covers and the extent of the coverage depends on the insurance provider and the individual policy. However, home insurance typically covers the property and other permanent structures found on or in the property, such as fences, in-ground swimming pools, garages, and dishwashers, to name a few.

There are usually two types of homeowner's insurance you can choose from, with "total replacement cover" or "sum-insured cover". 

If you’re not sure which option to take, it may be worthwhile to speak to a professional valuer to understand how much it might cost to rebuild your home and replace what's inside.

Does homeowner’s insurance cover electrical problems?

Every home has a range of electrical fittings,appliances and wiring running through the structure of the house. You can face many kinds of electrical problems but, unfortunately, your home insurance policy may not cover all of them. Damage accidentally caused by natural accidents may be covered, as might the repair of motors if you have opted for fusion damage cover. For example, if there’s a lightning storm and your home suffers a power surge which causes a short circuit, any repairs needed may be covered if your homeowner’s insurance contains lightning damage.

However, if any electrical appliances stop working, even a home and contents insurance policy may not cover the cost of repairing the appliance. Also, you should check with your insurer about making any electrical repairs inside your home as that may affect your coverage. 

Usually, in Australia, you need to hire a professional electrician to carry out any inspections or repairs to the electrical system in your home. This can include conducting periodic checks to make sure the electrical wirings are not exposed to seepage, flooding, or attacks by rodents. Consider asking your insurance provider about optional coverage for fixed electrical appliances such as air-conditioners and washing machines.  

Does homeowners insurance cover blown-down fences?

Most insurers consider fences a permanent fixture on your property. They are ranked alongside your home, garages or sheds, swimming pools, and solar panels when it comes to your home insurance policy. Your policy, therefore, covers your fences for the same incidents that cover your home or other parts of your property. For example, if there’s a major storm in your area and fences get blown down, you can get your insurer to pay for the cost of repairing the fence. You can check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to confirm that your policy covers the incident before filing a claim. Also, if the fence that has been damaged or blown down divides your property from your neighbour’s, you both may file a shared fence damage claim with your respective insurers. 

You should remember that there may be situations when your home insurance policy doesn’t cover damage to the fences on your property. Suppose you were working on or near the fence and cause some sort of damage to it you may not be able to claim compensation in this case.  Wear and tear on a wooden fence from water-logging near the fence, can be considered negligence on your part and your insurer may deny your claim.

Are bikes covered under home insurance?

Ordinarily, home insurance only covers damage to your house, which can include additional buildings such as garages, sheds, and fences, as well as permanent fixtures. 

However, to protect the items located in your home or in any of these other buildings, you will likely need to purchase home and contents insurance. Even so, your bike would only be covered if it does not require separate vehicle registration, as is the case for bicycles and 50cc minibikes, but not motorcycles, and only when located on your property, parked or otherwise. 

Depending on the cost of your bicycle or minibike, you can have it listed in your home and contents insurance as a high-value item. You'll want to check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know the normal coverage limit for a bike included as part of your home and contents insurance, as well as the incidents which are covered. 

Insuring your bicycle can be distinct to insuring any personal effects on your bike at the time, or even using the bike when you're out and about. If you want to cover those, such as something in a basket or a camera equipped to the bicycle, or the bike itself as you travel, you will likely need to purchase additional personal effects insurance. You can also read about any additional coverage available under the personal effects policy, though for full coverage, an ideal option will likely be a separate bike insurance policy.

Do I need legal cover on home insurance?

Besides protecting your home and your possessions from damage and theft, many home insurance policies also cover unfortunate accidents that sometimes result in legal action. This is called home insurance legal cover.

What does it cover?

This type of insurance cover protects you and your family members from liability if someone gets injured on your property. You can also get coverage for scenarios such as you or a family member accidentally injuring someone else outside your home or accidentally damaging someone else’s property. 

Typical liability claims include slips and falls in your home and the ensuing medical expenses, or falling trees or branches that cause  damage to your neighbour’s home or parked car.

Dog bites are another claim often covered. If your dog bites someone and you’re found liable, you’ll be covered for the vet and medical bills. Similarly, if your dog damages someone else’s property, home insurance legal cover will often take care of your liability.

Every member of your family is usually automatically included in home insurance legal cover provided they live with you.

How do you compare home insurance rates?

When you compare the home insurance quotes offered by various Australian insurers, consider looking at the type of coverage they offer as well as coverage limits and exclusions. You can choose an insurance policy which covers either the total replacement cost, which is the actual cost of rebuilding your home from scratch, or a fixed insured sum, which is an estimate of the cost to rebuild. The home insurance policy is likely to cost you more if you go for the total replacement cost coverage.

Your insurance policy’s exclusions and coverage limits usually depend on how exposed your home is to adverse events like floods and bushfires. It also tells you the maximum compensation that your insurer is likely to pay for damage caused to your home. If you live in an area with a greater incidence of crime or disasters, your insurance policy will likely cost you more.

The amount you actually pay for home insurance can be adjusted by agreeing to a higher excess, which is what you will pay over and above the insured amount from your own pocket. You should consider using the online calculators provided by various insurers to check how different coverage limits affect your insurance premium.

How to file a Youi home insurance claim

Dealing with a disaster is never a pleasant experience, but it can be worse if your home is extensively damaged. At some point, you’ll have to estimate the damage to your home and file the necessary insurance claim. 

If you’ve bought a Youi home insurance policy, you can contact them regarding an insurance claim either by calling 13 9684 or through the Youi website. If you don’t remember your policy number, you can identify yourself and provide your address when speaking to a Youi member to grant yourself access to your policy details, handy if you’ve had to leave home in a rush and may not have had the time to collect any of your belongings, let alone insurance policy documents. 

You may not need to fill out any claim forms right away, but you’ll need to describe the incident and the damage caused to your home. Once you’ve contacted Youi, an inspector will visit your home and verify the damage before your claim is accepted and processed. Insurers usually expect you to contact them at your earliest possible convenience after a damaging incident, or within 30 days at the latest, as is the case with Youi

Does home insurance cover temporary accommodation?

Seeing your home damaged by a natural disaster such as a bushfire or a hail storm can be traumatic. Unfortunately, sometimes your house may become uninhabitable after such an incident and require major renovation or even rebuilding. In such circumstances, your home insurance policy should cover the cost of temporary or emergency accommodation. 

It's worth checking with your insurer on the coverage limit, as different insurance providers may cover the cost of renting another home for a number of months, though this will vary between coverage cost and insurance provider. However, the maximum coverage will probably run for 12 months. Upon filing a claim, most insurers will likely first ask an inspector to confirm that your home is too damaged to live in, and subsequently cover the cost of temporary accommodation after that. 

You could also need temporary accommodation because the local council or other governing authority may order an evacuation in anticipation of a problem or disaster. In that instance, you should check if your insurance provider will cover the cost of accommodation at such a time and, if so, how you can file a claim in such cases. If you are a pet owner, check if your home insurance policy covers the cost of temporarily housing your pets elsewhere.

Can an insurer deny a lightning damage insurance claim?

Most Aussie insurance providers include lightning strikes among the incidents covered in their home and contents insurance policies. However, they’ll probably confirm whether you could have prevented the damage caused by the lightning strike before approving your lightning damage insurance claim.

For instance, lightning strikes may cause damage to appliances in your home and affect the working of your fridge or other appliances with a motor or compressor. If you have not purchased fusion damage cover, your lightning damage claim could be denied.

Also, if you live in an area where lightning storms are more likely to occur, but you did not take any steps to protect your home and appliances against potential lightning damage, your insurer may not accept your lightning damage insurance claim. This can include installing equipment to guard against electrical surges or maintaining the trees on your property to prevent damage to buildings from trees or branches felled by lightning. You should check with the insurance provider on the measures you can take to prevent lightning damage, before buying the policy.