Recent extreme weather in states like Texas has raised questions about homeowners and renters insurance policies. What are you covered for, and what are you not?
To help you out, we’ve broken down some of the main points of confusion below, and also shared some helpful resources for those who might be struggling with power outages and other effects of this unprecedented weather.
Can I file a Loss of Use claim when my power goes out due to bad weather?
The Loss of Use section of your Lemonade homeowners or renters policy can help out with costs if your place becomes unlivable due to certain specific circumstances (what we call ‘named perils’).
Here’s the tough news: Power outages, without other physical damage to the building itself, aren’t covered as part of your policy. Such outages are common in the U.S. due to all sorts of bad or inclement weather, and renters and home policies have limited coverage unless there is actual damage to your home.
My power went out and now all my frozen or refrigerated food is spoiled. I had to throw it out. Am I covered?
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but unfortunately, we can’t cover you for damages caused by such outages.
My pipes froze. Am I covered for Loss of Use?
Your policy does not cover you for Loss of Use due to frozen pipes.
There are a few things you can do to avoid frozen pipes, though. If you haven’t lost power and still have heat, you can try to open up any bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room cabinets, which will allow warm air to circulate around your plumbing fixtures and possibly prevent pipes from freezing. You can also leave your faucets running, just a trickle, for the same reason.
Well, let’s say my pipes froze and then burst, spewing water all over my furniture. Is that covered?
Yes, in this case you’d be covered for both damages to your stuff and for Loss of Use (meaning we’d help pay for alternative accommodations while you’re unable to stay in your home). In this case, you have actual physical damages caused by a named peril—here, it’s “accidental discharge from a frozen burst pipe”—and so your policy coverage does kick in.
I don’t own my home, but the physical building was damaged. Does my renters insurance kick in?
If you’re a renter, any damage to your apartment or rental home itself falls back onto your property manager and their insurance to address. Your Lemonade policy is able to address damage to your personal belongings, as well as temporary housing or other related expenses while any repairs are being completed, depending on the circumstances.
What if weather caused a tree to fall down on my home and cause damage. Would I be covered?
Damage to your house’s structure, or your personal stuff, would be covered under your homeowners policy. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to keep your property safe from tree damage.
If you’re a renter, you’d be covered for any damage this fallen tree caused to your personal belongings, as well as given help with temporary housing expenses if your home becomes unlivable. However, any damage to the actual building would fall under your landlord’s insurance policy (see the question above).
If I’m a renter, what is my landlord responsible for?
Your landlord is responsible for repairing any damages to the apartment or rental home itself. They are usually not responsible for replacing, moving or storing your personal belongings, or covering any temporary accommodations you need while the repairs are being completed.
Your landlord may waive your rent for the period you are not able to occupy your home, but not always.
What outside resources are available to me in general?
The Red Cross runs shelters for those displaced from their home due to emergencies, or dial 2-1-1 for more info on similar initiatives.
Fast Company has put together a concise list of emergency resources for those living in Texas (and also for anyone outside of Texas who wants to assist).
The New York Times has a helpful guide to organizations in the region that are seeking donations to continue their good work. And the Texas Tribune has a similar survey of warming stations and other resources in the state.