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Homeowners Insurance and Personal Liability

An important part of home ownership is making sure you are protected by homeowners insurance. Devastating events like fires and floods are tragic enough without the prospect of not being able to replace your home or belongings. However, homeowners should be aware that insurance is not just a way to repair or replace their home in the event of damage or loss. A vital part of homeowners insurance provides coverage in the event someone is injured while on or by the owner’s property.

Ever notice when you call a home insurance company for a quote, they usually ask if there are dogs, trampolines or pools on your property? This is because insurance companies are well aware that anyone injured on your property can sue the homeowner for anything from payment of medical costs, to lost wages, to recompense for pain and suffering. And because dogs can bite, and trampolines and pools are notorious for resulting in injuries, insurance companies consider these items when they determine your insurance rate. But even innocuous events can occur which you can’t entirely avoid. Something as simple as a neighbor’s child running across your lawn and tripping over a tree root can end up costing a homeowner. Therefore, homeowners insurance usually includes coverage for personal injury. But a homeowner should always review this coverage to make sure it is adequate to protect them in a variety of events.

First, make sure your coverage includes an adequate amount for Personal Liability. Personal liability provides coverage in the event you are found liable for the injury or damage of another person or their property. For instance, if your child knocks a ball through the neighbor’s window, or a person slips on your front step and sues you for damages, this coverage may help mitigate some of the costs associated with these events. Again, however, coverage is limited to both the amount a homeowner elects as coverage, as well as the policies exclusions of coverage.

Second, a homeowner should make sure they have adequate coverage for Medical Payments. This coverage covers the medical costs of anyone accidentally injured while on your property. Note, however, that generally this does not cover the medical expenses of anyone who is considered a resident of the house. This coverage is different from Personal Liability in that it is solely to cover medical costs. As medical costs are often a large chunk of any settlement, it is important that an insurance policy provide both these coverage so as to adequately provide for the total amount required to be paid out.

Even if you have coverage already, it is vitally important that you are aware of what and how much your policy will cover, as well as the policies’ exclusions. Though you may be required by your lender and/or state to have a minimum amount of coverage, this is too often not adequate to cover anything beyond minor injury or damage. A good option for many is to add an Umbrella Policy which can greatly increase your liability coverage.

It is also important to understand how homeowners insurance works so that we understand our own options in the event of an injury on another’s property. If you have been injured on someone else’s property, be sure to contact an Illinois personal injury attorney who can research the owner’s coverage and advise you of the best way to receive compensation for your injuries.

About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.

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