As a homeowner, you may entertain family and friends, have overnight guests, or host special events. But what happens if someone is hurt on your property? Similarly, what happens if you are hurt while visiting someone else’s home? No matter which side of this situation you find yourself on, you may question whether homeowners insurance covers personal injury accidents.
At The Embry Law Firm, this is a common question. We all know that if we are injured in an auto accident that our auto insurance policy will cover costs of property damage and medical expenses. But most people don’t know what homeowners insurance covers if an accident occurs. Let’s take a look.
What Homeowners Insurance in Georgia Generally Covers
Homeowners insurance in Georgia generally includes the following types of coverage:
- The Structure: In Georgia, most homeowners insurance policies include any structures on your property. That includes sheds, garages, barns, etc. If one of the structures on your property is damaged or destroyed by wind, lightning, fire, hurricane, or other disasters (as listed on your policy), then this is the type of coverage that would pay for repairs or replacement. Beware, however, most policies do not cover:
- Routine Maintenance
- Normal Wear and Tear
- Personal Belongings: Most Georgia homeowners insurance policies have a standard limit on how much they will cover if personal belongings are damaged or destroyed. Generally, insurance will cover up to 70 percent of the items original value. There are unique limits for high-dollar items like artwork, jewelry, collectibles, and electronics. Some of these items may also require an individual policy.
- Additional Living Expenses: If your home is damaged to the point that you cannot live in until it is repaired, then your homeowners insurance may cover your living expenses up to your policy limits. Most Georgia insurance policies have time limits and dollar value limits, so it is important to find out what your limitations are before making plans.
- Liability Protection: Liability protection protects you and other family members listed in the policy from being liable for bodily injury or property damage suffered by other people. That means if someone is hurt while on your property, your homeowners insurance – if you have liability protection – will cover the cost if you have to go to court, along with any awards you may owe. Coverage will only pay up to your policy limits.
In terms of a personal injury accident, we would look primarily at the liability protection coverage on the homeowners insurance policy. Liability protection typically covers any injuries included on a claim filed against your homeowners insurance. This is called a third party claim, and is not the same thing as a personal injury claim.
In Georgia, homeowners insurance policies generally have a third-party liability limit of $100,000. The liability limit will compensate an injured party for their injuries, which may include:
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Death Benefits
It is difficult to put a dollar value on any accident claim. All homeowners should remember that if they are found legally liable for any injury, they will be responsible for covering the victim’s expenses. Depending on the injury, your minimum liability limits may not cover all expenses incurred. Of course, you can always purchase additional coverage.
Is Homeowners Insurance Legally Required?
Many people think that, like auto insurance, homeowners insurance is a legal requirement. In Georgia, however, it is not. The only time that homeowners insurance is legally required is if you are working with a lender – in which case the lender requires you to have insurance as they too would suffer loss if the property is damaged or destroyed.
You may find that a homeowners association (HOA) requires insurance coverage as well, but if you own the home outright, you are not required to have homeowners insurance. But remember, without homeowners insurance, you are fully responsible for any property damage or loss, as well as any personal injury accidents that may occur on your property.
If you have questions about homeowners insurance and personal injury accidents, contact The Embry Law Firm to speak with our personal injury attorney about your situation.