Do you have a slippery walkway or a gaping gopher hole that can cause a person to trip or fall and spring their ankle? Maybe your home is being renovated, and you have a bunch of tools or a ladder lying around? If anyone gets hurt, they can try and press charges. You can be held accountable, and required to pay thousands or more dollars in damages, crippling your savings. Liability insurance, a segment of your homeowners insurance, can protect you from this scenario. Liability is a “legal or financial obligation” you have as a property owner. It protects other people and their property from you. Check out the text below to learn more about choosing the right liability insurance for you.
What Is Liability Insurance for Homeowners?
The liability part of your homeowners insurance protects your financial assets in the event that you are held legally accountable for bodily injury to another person, or damages to their pets or property. Here’s a list of what this type of insurance can cover:
- The cost of repairs to another person’s property
- The medical expenses of an injured party or their pets
- Lost wages, if the damaged third-party is prevented from making money due to damage to their property or a bodily injury
- The costs of legal defense, including an attorney and legal fees if charges are brought against you
Even if you are not found accountable in legal proceedings, the liability insurance can still cover the legal fees. Defamation, or an injury to another party’s reputation with a statement that is deemed false, can also be covered, depending on the details of your homeowner’s policy. If any of this sounds complex or confusing, you are not alone.
Liability Insurance For Family Members and Pets
If you live alone, liability coverage will likely be less costly. Simply keep your premises safe and tidy, and you probably won’t have to worry about causing too much damage. If you live with family members, however, your risks grow exponentially. Your child might accidentally ruin a neighbor’s expensive rug, break an antique vase, or smash a window while playing football with friends. Your dog, on the other hand, even if they are friendly, might run too fast and accidentally knock over a child. An undertrained pet might dig holes in your neighbor’s yard, damaging their lawn and/or garden. In either case, liability insurance would cover any damages to third parties, up to the limit stated in your insurance policy. Including pets and family members in your liability insurance coverage will cost you more. Keep in mind though, that introducing more risk factors increases the possibility of doing damage to others. This is why including family members and pets in your policy is an integral part of purchasing the perfect liability coverage for you. Additional tip: If you own a dog whose breed is considered dangerous or aggressive, such as a pit bull or a great Dane, consider investing more money in your animal liability coverage.
How Much Liability Insurance Do I Need?
The average liability coverage for homeowners in the U.S. amounts to $100,000, for a $200,000 dwelling. You are also required to pay an average of $1000 deductible. A deductible refers to the amount of money you promise to pay before the insurance kicks in and covers the damages. But how do you know how much money you should invest in your individual liability insurance? The first thing you need to determine is your net worth. In worst case scenarios, such as battling a lawsuit in a courtroom, all of your property and even future earnings could be at stake. If your net worth is higher than average, it would be a good idea to consider excess liability coverage. For an additional yearly investment of around $150 to $300, you can access additional coverage if you reach the limit of your underlying insurance policy. This will also cover any other types of insurance claims, such as defamation. To be sure you don’t end up underinsured or over insured, talk to a qualified insurance representative. Most insurance agencies offer one-on-one calls and meetings, to help you make an informed decision.
Damages to your property are not the only way your financial assets can suffer. Causing damage to neighbors, guests, and passersby can also drain your bank account. Train your pets, invest in home safety, and keep your premises tidy to prevent accidents. To adjust the liability costs to your individual needs, add any family members and pets to your policy, and consider excess liability coverage if your net worth is higher than average.