What is homeowners liability insurance and what does it cover?

Ohio homeowners insurance is what is commonly referred to as a “package” policy, meaning it includes coverage for both property (Section I of the policy) and liability (Section II of the policy). While it’s easy to imagine what the property portion covers (the house and the contents inside), it might not be as easy to figure out what homeowners liability insurance covers. This article offers explanations and examples of typical coverage under homeowners liability insurance.  

Section II coverage:

Personal Liability

Personal liability pays if you’re legally liable for causing bodily injury or property damage to someone else or their property. This would include legal costs as well (such as defending a lawsuit). Here are a few examples.

  • You’re hosting a pool party and a guest suffers an injury while swimming.
  • At the same party, you serve alcohol to your guests. One of the guests has a little bit too much to drink and drives home and causes an accident. This is called host liquor liability and may be included.
  • You’re golfing and your slice ends up hitting a neighboring house, causing damage (bet you didn’t realize this qualified….)
  • Your dog gets loose and runs into the road and a passing vehicle hits it. Any animal could qualify here, as long as you own it. 

Medical Payments

Medical payments coverage, in my opinion, is an unsung hero in the world of insurance. Its sole purpose is to provide easily accessible coverage to pay for medical bills sustained by a visitor to your home, regardless of who’s at fault.

A classic example is this: your friend trips and fall in or around your house. Medical payments steps in and pays for medical expenses for that accident, up to the limit.

Loss Assessment

Loss assessment coverage pays for any assessments charged against you as owner or tenant of the listed premises by your homeowners or condo association. Many associations charge a fee to belong, and in exchange for that fee, provide a variety of services such as lawn care and snow removal. You also have access to common areas that the association owns, such as a gazebo, clubhouse or pool.

The association has its own insurance policy that covers what the association owns. Like with many insurance policies, there are deductibles for different coverage items. In the event of a claim, the association will often assess a specific amount to each member, and that amount goes toward the claim. It’s one way for the association members to pay their portion toward the claim.

We’re referring to liability claims here, but keep in mind loss assessment can also apply to property claims.

Additional coverage that may appear under Section II- Liability

Watercraft Liability

In some cases, Ohio homeowners liability insurance will extend to a watercraft. However, the engine size, type of motor and length will usually dictate whether there is automatic coverage. Common limitations include 25 hp or less, less than 25 feet in length and outboard motors only. Never assume- talk to your insurance agent to see if you have any liability coverage for your boat. If it’s not available, then boat/watercraft insurance would be the solution.

Motor vehicles

Before you get excited, please know I’m NOT talking about regular, private passenger vehicles. I’m talking about specialty vehicles such as Gators, ATV’s or kids low powered cars (think Barbie Jeep). There MAY be some coverage provided, BUT there are several rules, such as registration, usage of vehicle and where it’s driven (on residence property or roadway?)

I mention this only so you’ll know to ask if you have coverage or if you need a separate policy for these items. It’s better to know BEFORE the claim, because after is too late. 

Personal Injury

This may or may not be included as a standard part of the policy, so don’t assume it is. Ask. If not standard, then it is usually available by endorsement, for a small premium.

Personal injury pays for damages you are legally obligated to pay as a result of any of the following-

1. libel, slander or defamation of character;
2. false arrest, wrongful detention or imprisonment, malicious prosecution;
3. discrimination based on race, religion, or any other protected class;
4. wrongful entry or eviction, invasion of privacy;
5. electronic aggression, including cyberbullying, that occurs through technology or social media by “anyone we protect” under the age of 18; or
6. humiliation caused by any of these.

While this is not an all-inclusive list, we hope this helps get you thinking about your own Ohio homeowners insurance policy. When in doubt, ask YOUR insurance company or agent! Want to see what we can do for you? Call us at (937) 592-4871 or fill out the form below.

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