Will My Home Insurance Policy Cover Theft and Break-Ins?
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A standard home insurance policy covers theft and break-ins, providing coverage for stolen belongings, as well as damages to your home. However, there may be sublimits for certain items like jewelry, meaning there is a cap on how much you can claim for its loss.
Learn how coverage for theft and break-ins work, as well as endorsements you can buy to supplement your coverage.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Theft?
The personal property coverage of a standard policy will insure the belongings of you and other related household members but only after you meet your deductible. For example, if you file a personal property claim for $5,000 in losses and your deductible is $1,000, you will pay $1,000 and your carrier will pay the remaining $4,000.
It should be noted that personal property coverage will kick in whether the theft occurred while the homeowner was at home, at work or even on vacation. In addition, many policies will include off-premise coverage, which will provide limited coverage for items even outside your home, such as your child’s stuff at their college dorm or items inside your car.
Keep in mind that your carrier will only cover your belongings up to your policy’s limits, which is usually 50% to 70% of your policy’s dwelling coverage (insurance for your home’s physical structure). For example, if you buy $250,000 in dwelling coverage, your items are usually insured anywhere from $125,000 to $175,000. However, some items like jewelry and antiques will carry a lower sublimit. So if a ring valued at $5,000 was stolen but carries a $1,000 sublimit, you will only be reimbursed for $1,000 even if you have $50,000 in coverage.
Finally, homeowners should know that a standard policy includes only actual cash value coverage, meaning your carrier will reimburse you for stolen items but only at their value minus depreciation factors like age and wear and tear. You can buy replacement cost coverage, which will pay to replace the item at today’s market value but it will cost extra.
Does Home Insurance Cover Break-Ins or Vandalism?
If somebody breaks in and vandalizes your home, dwelling coverage will insure your home’s structure such as walls and windows. Meanwhile, other structures coverage will pay if your fences, sheds or gates are damaged during the break-in. Personal property coverage, as we covered earlier, will insure the actual items inside your home like furniture, electronics and clothes.
In instances when a break-in or act of vandalism renders your home uninhabitable, your policy may cover additional living expenses (ALE) as well. This coverage can compensate for hotel bills, meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being repaired but only expenses that exceed your actual daily living costs.
Are Broken Windows Covered?
Either dwelling coverage or other structures coverage should cover a broken window during a break-in depending on whether the window belonged to the main living structure or a shed or some other detached structure.
When Won’t Theft or Vandalism Be Covered?
Items in your home won't be covered if the items taken belong to someone who is not a direct relative, like a friend or tenant who is renting a room — they will need to rely on renters insurance for coverage. Also, any theft, vandalism or break-ins caused at a home that is vacant for more than 30 days will likely not be covered unless you have additional coverage (more on that later).
Again, you will need to consider your policy's limits. Your insurance company won't cover the costs past your plan’s limits even if your actual losses exceed them.
Homeowners insurance also won't cover your vehicle if it's stolen. Your auto policy's comprehensive coverage would address the costs of a stolen vehicle. Additional coverage would also need to be purchased for other vehicles, such as watercraft.
Are There Home Insurance Add-Ons That Will Cover Theft and Breaks-Ins?
Several add-ons (also called riders or endorsements) and standalone policies are available that can help bolster your coverage in the event of a theft or break-in.
- Scheduled personal property endorsement: For items that come with a sublimit like jewelry, antiques and art, you will need to buy scheduled property coverage to insure them for their full value. Without this coverage, you may only be reimbursed for a fraction of the valuable’s worth in the event of a break-in.
- Collectibles insurance: As the name suggests, collectibles insurance insures the full value of collectibles that often come with a sublimit, like art, CDs and records, dolls and pottery.
- Vacant home insurance: Insurance carriers often exclude coverage for a home that is vacant for more than 30 days because there is a higher likelihood of a loss, such as a break-in or burst pipe, going unnoticed. Vacant home insurance can step in to provide break-in coverage, making it ideal for individuals with multiple properties like a vacation home or beach house.
- Business property endorsement: Generally, a standard home insurance policy will exclude coverage for stolen commercial property like inventory or industrial equipment. A business property endorsement ensures that you’re covered for these items, making it handy for home-based businesses.
- Credit card/deposits forgery endorsement: If a burglar gets their hands on your wallet, this coverage will provide protection for financial losses resulting from forgery or alteration of checks, drafts, promissory notes or unauthorized credit card charges.
How Do I Keep My Home Safe From Theft and Break-Ins?
With over 580,000 break-ins occurring each year in the United States, it is essential for homeowners to defend their home against theft, break-ins and vandalism.
To enhance the safety of your home from theft and break-ins, start by installing strong locks and deadbolts on all doors and windows. Investing in a security system with camera surveillance and smart notifications can significantly deter potential intruders as well. You should also educate all family members on how to use the smart security system as well as basic home security principles.
Additionally, setting up outdoor motion sensor lighting can illuminate suspicious activity and potentially deter intruders. This brings up a good point: it's important to maintain clear visibility around your home by trimming shrubs and trees that could serve as hiding spots for burglars and vandals. You should also get to know your neighbors and consider setting up a neighborhood watch.
If you do leave, have the post office hold your mail and deliveries or arrange for a neighbor to collect them so as not to signal your absence.
Lastly, consider having a professional security assessment to get personalized advice on enhancing your home's security measures.
How To File a Home Insurance Claim for Theft and Break-Ins
In the aftermath of a theft or break-in, filing a home insurance claim is a critical step toward financial recovery. Here’s an expanded guide on how to maneuver through this process:
- Secure your household and notify the authorities. Make sure to obtain a copy of the police report, which is a necessary document for your insurance claim.
- Contact your insurance provider. Your insurer will provide a claims form for you to fill out. It’s crucial to adhere to the timeframe stipulated in your policy for reporting such incidents.
- Document the scene. Take clear photographs or videos capturing the damage and the points of entry. Document any vandalism or destruction that occurred during the break-in.
- Inventory stolen or damaged items. Include their descriptions, estimated value and purchase dates. If possible, provide receipts, photos, warranties or any other proof of ownership. Having a prepared home inventory list helps streamline this step.
- Meet with the claims adjuster. Provide the adjuster with all necessary documentation and cooperate fully to ensure an accurate assessment.
- Review the settlement offer. If anything is unclear or if you disagree with the assessment, discuss it with your adjuster or consider consulting with a professional claims handler.
- Receive compensation. This compensation should assist in replacing lost or damaged items and repairing any damage to your home.
- Maintain good records. Keep all documentation related to the claim, including the claims form, inventory lists, photos and the settlement offer, for future reference.
Keep in mind that it isn’t always advisable to file a claim if something is damaged or stolen. For instance, if an item that was taken from your home is less than your plan’s deductible, you’re better off replacing the item yourself than filing a claim and risk your premium going up.