12 Things Likely Excluded in Your Home Insurance Policy (& How To Get Coverage)

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When you buy standard homeowners insurance, your policy’s declaration page will list exclusions that your carrier will not cover. Homeowners should carefully read these over to avoid getting caught off guard when they file a claim for a non-covered peril and it gets denied.

Learn about common homeowners insurance exclusions and how to get additional coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance policy exclusions are specific conditions or events not covered by the insurance company.
  • Examples of exclusions commonly include floods, earthquakes, intentional damage and wear and tear.
  • Insurance companies have exclusions to manage financial risks, encourage homeowners to take preventative measures and help keep insurance costs more affordable.
  • Homeowners can buy specialized coverage to insure against risks otherwise excluded by a standard policy, such as earthquake insurance and flood insurance.
  • Specialized coverage may be available as an endorsement to an existing policy or purchase as a standalone policy.

What Is a Homeowners Insurance Exclusion?

Homeowners insurance exclusions are specific conditions or events that are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. These exclusions typically include natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, intentional damage caused by the homeowner, normal wear and tear and lack of maintenance.

To fully understand your insurance coverage, you should read your policy documents carefully, paying particular attention to any exclusions. These exclusions are often listed following the coverage section, although they can also be integrated within each coverage description.

Why Are There Home Insurance Exclusions?

Certain types of damages are inherently unpredictable and catastrophic in nature, making them difficult to insure. For example, natural disasters like earthquakes and floods can cause widespread destruction, impacting a large number of homes simultaneously. This creates a significant financial risk for insurance companies, as covering such widespread damage could lead to insolvency. By excluding these events, insurance companies protect themselves from being bombarded with an overwhelming number claims in a short timeframe that could exceed their ability to pay them.

Additionally, exclusions encourage homeowners to take preventative measures against risks that are considered preventable or within their control. For instance, since damages due to poor maintenance, such as mold or pest infestations, are often excluded, homeowners are incentivized to fix leaks, inspect for signs of bed bugs and other pests and rodents and take other preventative measures.

In addition, exclusions exist because they allow homeowners to customize their coverage based on their local risks.

For example, flood insurance would be a wiser purchase for homeowners that live closer to a coastline than those that are located more inland. If flood coverage was included in a standard policy, then some homeowners may be paying higher rates to cover a peril that may not be so large a concern for them.

Most Common Homeowners Insurance Exclusions

There are several exclusions many homeowners insurance policies will include.

1. Floods

Flooding encompasses a variety of situations such as malfunctioning sump pumps, obstructed sewers, high tidal waters, rising groundwater levels, heavy downpours and overflowing riverbanks. Standard home insurance policies typically don't cover these scenarios.

2. Ground or Earth Movements

The term “ground movement” typically includes mudslides, earthquakes, sinkholes and landslides, which involve the earth shifting, sinking or rising. These types of events are not covered under standard home or renters insurance policies in most states.

3. Infestations

Home insurance policies commonly exclude coverage for pest infestations, including rodents, bedbugs, termites and similar issues. Consequently, any costs related to extermination and sanitation fall under the responsibility of the homeowner. Insurance providers typically view these situations as matters of regular maintenance and upkeep. Consider the fact that 14 million homes reported having cockroaches and nearly 15 million reported having rodents in 2021.[1]

4. Mold

Coverage for mold damage and removal under home insurance policies is conditional and generally depends on the cause of the mold. If the mold arises due to neglect, prolonged water leaks, poor construction practices or flooding, it is typically not covered. However, if mold development is directly caused by incidents like burst pipes, heavy winds causing breaches to your home or sudden plumbing problems, it may fall under the category of a covered peril.

5. Home-Based Businesses

Conducting business from your home, such as operating a pet grooming service or a daycare, typically requires additional business insurance, especially for liability in case someone is injured on your property. It's crucial to inform your insurance provider immediately about your home-based business so you can buy the appropriate coverage.

6. Acts From the Government

The exclusion pertaining to acts of public authority means that if a government action leads to a loss, such as the confiscation or condemning of your property, this will not be covered by your home insurance policy. Consequently, any costs associated with replacing or repairing your home in these scenarios would not be eligible for insurance claims.

7. Intentional Damage or Neglect (Wear and Tear)

Preventable damage and disrepair will not be covered by your insurance policy. If an action needs to be taken to prevent loss and damage and you do not take action to repair it, then it is considered neglect. For example, if a tree falls because it was decayed and you did not remove it or if mold spread because of a pipe that you knew was leaking for months, then any claim filed related to these losses will likely get denied.

Your insurance carrier will determine that you could have prevented damage to your home or that you intentionally caused it. In fact, you could be in trouble for home insurance fraud if you file a claim for damages you were responsible for.

8. Nuclear Hazards

Any losses sustained from nuclear hazards or war will not be included in your home insurance policy. If you live within the impact zone of a nuclear power plant, the facility will usually have its own liability insurance to cover any losses in the event they cause harm to third parties.

9. Acts of War

Losses resulting from war are typically not covered under standard home insurance policies. These can include acts of terrorism, revolutions and military coups.

10. Dog Breeds

Dog bites may not be covered by homeowners insurance for specific aggressive dog breeds. Some carriers may even blacklist certain breeds like rottweilers, pit bulls and wolf hybrids.

11. Power Failure

If a power failure or surge results in loss or damage to your property that was caused by the utility company, it is not covered. However, if you experience a power failure or surge due to a fallen tree or a lightning strike, your homeowners coverage may foot the bill.

12. Ordinance

If your property is not up to standard building code, your insurance will not cover the cost of upgrading your house to meet regulations and building codes. Older homes in particular could face potential problems as building codes can change over time.

How To Get Additional Coverage for Home Insurance Exclusions

You can help fill the potential gaps in your protection by purchasing separate policies or by adding endorsements to your current plan.

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is a separate policy from standard homeowners insurance, specifically designed to cover losses caused by naturally occurring flooding. These plans can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program or through private carriers. It typically covers damage to the building's structure, including the foundation, electrical and plumbing systems and permanently installed fixtures. The policy also covers personal property inside the home, such as furniture, appliances and clothing, against flood damage.

Earthquake Insurance

Earthquake insurance is a distinct policy from standard homeowners insurance, specifically catering to damages caused by earthquakes. Similar to dwelling coverage on a homeowners policy, earthquake insurance typically covers repairs to your home, as well as other structures on your property like garages, if they were damaged by seismic activity. It also extends to personal belongings inside the home, providing compensation for items damaged or destroyed in an earthquake.

However, keep in mind that earthquake insurance usually does not cover damages resulting from sinkholes from erosion.

In addition, deductibles are percentage-based and can reach as high as 25% of your earthquake insurance coverage limit.[2] To compare, home insurance deductibles typically range from 1% to 10% of your home’s insured value.[3]

Water Backup Endorsement

Adding a water backup and sump pump overflow endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy offers additional protection against water damage from specific sources. This type of insurance covers damage to your property that arises from clogged sewer lines, malfunctioning sump pumps and backed-up drains. It also extends to mold damage caused by water or sewer backup, ensuring comprehensive protection against these particular risks.

Animal Liability Insurance

Animal or dog liability insurance acts as an additional safeguard, covering damages and injuries caused by your pet, particularly in cases where standard home insurance falls short. This insurance typically covers medical expenses, legal fees and other associated costs arising from incidents where your pet injures a person or damages property. Notably, there are specialty providers that offer specific dog bite liability insurance, including:

  • Dog Bite Insurance
  • Einhorn Insurance Agency
  • Lester Kalmanson Agency, Inc.
  • X Insurance
  • InsureMyK9

Ordinance or Law Endorsement

An ordinance or law coverage endorsement provides additional protection when a home needs to be rebuilt or repaired in compliance with current building codes. This coverage becomes particularly relevant if local building laws have changed since the home was originally constructed, requiring more expensive updates during reconstruction.

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How do I know which home insurance exclusions are on my policy?

Homeowners insurance exclusions are found under the exclusions section of your home insurance policy. If you have any questions, contact your insurance company.

What is not covered under a dwelling policy?

Most dwelling policies exclude losses resulting from floods, earthquakes, routine wear and tear, intentional damage and lack of maintenance or neglect.

Are dog bites considered an insurance exclusion?

Dog bites can be excluded by a home insurance policy depending on the breed of the dog. Rottweilers, pit bulls, wolf hybrids and other similar breeds will often be excluded.


  1. United States Census Bureau. “How Many American Homes Have Pests?” Accessed Dec. 21, 2023.
  2. California Department of Insurance. “Earthquake Insurance.” Accessed Dec. 21, 2023.
  3. Liberty Mutual. “Home Insurance Deductibles: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).” Accessed Dec. 21, 2023.

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