Most people think of home insurance as the safety net for when the chimney catches fire, when the pipe bursts or when the alarms fail and burglars make off with all the valuables. However, there are some often-overlooked benefits of home insurance that can help you out of otherwise devastating financial situations.

One of the most important aspects of your home insurance policy is personal liability coverage. You might not expect to ever be sued for an accident that occurs on your property, but if you are, you could end up owing thousands of dollars in damages. Personal liability coverage helps to protect your personal assets should this situation ever arise.

Here's what you need to know about liability coverage for your home.

What's Covered by Your Policy?

You might be surprised by the extent of your personal liability coverage. Generally, these policies provide compensation for lawsuits resulting from accidents on your property. This compensation usually includes:

  • Pain and suffering claims. For injuries that cause lasting pain and emotional trauma, the costs can add up.
  • Lost wages. A person may lose work because of an injury.
  • Medical bills. These are often the most expensive part of a settlement.
  • Wrongful death payments. If a person is killed, their families can still be compensated financially for the loss.
However, personal injury compensation through your insurance can also help you stay covered when you're away from home. For example, if you attend a gym on a daily basis and accidentally injure another patron on the running track, that patron could bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. Your home insurance covers your own negligence in most accidents, even when you're not at home.

Every person in your home can enjoy this coverage. Your teens and children may cause accidents away from home, and your insurance can help bridge the gap. Even damage to property might be covered.

For example, if your teen was mowing the lawn and caught a large rock in the blades that was thrown into the window of the neighbor's home, liability coverage would also help to pay for the damage to the other person's property and any people who might have been injured by that damage (e.g. cuts from the glass).

However, there are some limitations to personal liability coverage. While this coverage provides compensation for others who are injured on your property or by your actions, you cannot claim these benefits for yourself if you are injured at home.

Also, intentional actions against another person are not covered. For example, if you assault someone by throwing a punch, that person can sue you for personal injury, but your insurance would not usually be required to pick up the slack.

How Do You Know If You Have Enough Coverage?

Most home insurance policies do have a cap for how much the insurer will pay in damages. That cap may not be enough for some injuries, which can go into the millions for some types of more serious injuries. In order to know if you should increase your liability coverage through your insurance, you need to consider whether people are at a higher risk of injury when they visit your home.

Here are two common situations where increased coverage may be a good idea:

  • You have a swimming pool. Swimming pools increase the risk of injury and death to visitors exponentially. When you routinely have young children visiting to use the pool, extra coverage is not just a good idea -- it's essential. Average liability policies provide about $100,000 in coverage. Pool-related injuries can be much more expensive.
  • You have a higher-risk lifestyle. Visiting places like the gym or dance classes makes it more likely that you can injure someone else. If you routinely enjoy high-adventure activities like boating, rafting or gliding, it's also a good idea to increase your coverage.
  • Your property is vast and provides a number of more risky attractions. Farm equipment, untamed woods or many outbuildings can cause more incidents of injury.
  • You have pets and animals. Horses, dogs and farm animals like goats can bite and stomp. Dog bites may cause intense trauma, and injuries from horses can also be quite serious.
The best way to know if you have enough coverage and what the limits of your policy are is to talk with an insurance agent. You might find you want to improve your policy beyond the standard amount.

Will You Need Additional Coverage Beyond What Home Insurance Can Provide?

Sometimes, insurance providers only allow liability coverage through home insurance to go so high. After that, you might need to take out an additional policy. These policies are umbrella policies that provide much higher coverage at a reasonable monthly fee. Umbrella policies do also have some limitations: you can't use the policy to cover costs of injury that are linked with criminal activity.

For more information about the coverage your home insurance can provide, contact us at Crowel Agency, Inc.