Are Home Modifications for the Disabled Covered by Home Insurance?
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Home insurance doesn’t typically cover home modifications for disabled individuals. The exception is if the modifications were already in place but they were damaged by a covered peril like fire or vandalism. Fortunately, financial assistance for making such modifications or installations for disabled individuals are available from government and private organizations.
What Are Common Home Modifications for People With Disabilities?
Home modifications for older adults and people with disabilities prioritize accessibility, safety and independence. Entrance wheelchair-accessible home modifications ramps and vertical platform lifts are commonly installed, especially in homes with raised entrances, facilitating access for wheelchair users. Wider doorways accommodate mobility aids and lever handles replace traditional knobs for ease of use. Bathrooms witness significant transformations with roll-in showers, grab bars, raised toilet seats and non-slip flooring.
Kitchens are adapted with pull-down shelving, adjustable counter heights and front-controlled appliances. Faucets often shift to lever-handled variants, making everyday tasks smoother. Stairs are equipped with lifts and handrails, enhancing safety and accessibility. Smoother flooring transitions and increased lighting cater to those with visual impairments and mobility challenges.
Modern technology introduces voice-activated systems, allowing control over lights, thermostats and more. Remote-controlled blinds and curtains offer added convenience, eliminating manual adjustments. Safety features like emergency alert systems become vital, along with security cameras and intercoms for identifying visitors.
The overall home layout leans towards open floor plans for easier maneuverability. Wider hallways and accessible furniture selections, such as adjustable tables and beds, enhance room mobility. Pathways outside the home are made smoother and designated parking spots are located closer to entrances.
Does Home Insurance Cover Home Modifications That Are Damaged?
Homeowners insurance will not pay for the cost of making modifications, such as installing a ramp for your entry. However, if you paid to install that ramp yourself and it was damaged by a covered peril, then insurance may contribute to the cost of repairing or replacing it. Let's delve into the specific coverages.
Typically, dwelling coverage can protect the physical structure of a home, including any modifications like widening doorways. Covered perils typically include falling objects, smoke damage, vandalism and the freezing of home systems.
Personal Property Coverage
Personal property coverage can offer protection for specialized equipment related to a disability. If these items are damaged due to a covered peril, compensation could be provided, considering policy limits and deductibles.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Injuries to Guests Caused by My Home’s Modifications?
If a guest is injured due to a modification, such as slipping on a ramp, personal liability coverage and medical payments coverage can cater to their medical expenses up to policy limits. You can also consider getting an umbrella policy to increase the liability limits of your insurance.
What Options Are Available for Home Accessibility Modifications?
Homeowners insurance may cover damages to home accessibility modifications already in place but it generally won’t cover the cost of making those modifications. Fortunately, many governmental and private resources and programs exist to help pay for modifications.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers specially adapted housing (SAH), special housing adaptation (SHA) and temporary residence adaptation (TRA). An SAH provides larger grants for more severe disabilities while an SHA gives a smaller grant for less severe disabilities. A TRA is for temporary residence adaptations in a family member's home. Applications can be made online through the eBenefits website, but a DS Logon account may be needed to access the application.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is another option with the Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants Program that aids low-income seniors. The loans and grants are used to modernize homes and eliminate health and safety hazards. For those applying for home repair loans or grants, three key forms are required: a residential loan application, a request for information and an employment and asset certification.
State and Private Organizations
Modest Needs is an avenue that offers self-sufficiency grants to help individuals and families just above the poverty line cover emergency expenses, such as home modifications they can't afford due to a recent crisis. To apply, at least one adult in the household must be employed, and the primary income must come from specific sources like employment or veteran's benefits.
The Gary Sinise Foundation’s Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment (RISE) program is another possibility for disabled veterans when looking for financial means when modifying their home. These grants can be used to refurbish bathrooms and add ramps to primary dwellings. Those interested can submit a request on the Gary Sinise Foundation website.
Other organizations that may help include:
- Lions Clubs International
- American Parkinson Disease Association
- Rebuilding Together AmeriCorps
- American Red Cross
- Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2)
- The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA)
- Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
- Travis Roy Foundation
The FHA 203(k) rehabilitation loan is ideal for purchasing homes in need of remodeling or refinancing existing mortgages to access additional funds for renovations. Notably, these loans tend to offer more favorable rates than credit cards or personal loans and have more lenient credit requirements than conventional home equity products. Then there's the FHA Title I loan, a fixed-rate financing option for projects enhancing a property's basic livability or utility, encompassing improvements like accessibility upgrades.
Home equity loans or lines of credit are another cost-effective means of financing updates, allowing homeowners to borrow a significant portion of their equity, with the property serving as loan collateral. However, if you're seeking rapid funding for pressing repairs or modifications, a home improvement loan, despite potentially higher costs, could be suitable.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECM) and other reverse mortgages can also be used to finance home modifications for disabled individuals. This FHA-insured loan allows homeowners aged 62 and older to utilize home equity into cash without selling their property.
You can also access a directory of resources specifically for home modifications through the National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources website.