We all know the 1990 holiday movie Home Alone is epic, but have you ever viewed it as a lesson on insurance? No? We’re not surprised. Still, the movie offers viewers lots of hilarity and a larger-than-life example of the hazards home and auto insurance policies protect against. Although exaggerated in the movie, the perils eight-year-old Kevin McCallister engineers to thwart the would-be burglars are also some typical liability risks and hazards for home and auto owners. It sheds light on the reasons why it’s important to talk to a Healy Group advisor who understands these risks. That way, they can use their expertise to make sure your home, auto, and precious personal possessions are adequately protected.
1. Watch Out for Weather
Early in the movie, you might recall the escapade that ensues when high winds knock out power in the McCallister’s home. This causes the family to oversleep and nearly miss their flight. Oversleeping isn’t the only danger of a weather-related power outage. Power outages can also lead sump pumps to stop operating, causing basements to flood during a heavy rainstorm. In the winter months, heavy snowfall can create ice dams or, in some cases, cause roofs to collapse.
Whether water damage is weather-related or accidental, it can pose significant risks to homes.
Not all water damage is covered by homeowner’s policies. That’s why it’s important to talk with a knowledgeable insurance advisor about what your policy will and won’t cover before you have a claim. Your standard homeowner policy will usually include:
- Damages caused by the weight of ice, snow, or sleet. This can cause roof collapse or water damage, among other problems.
- Discharge and overflow of water, even if it is an accident.
- Tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging of a steam or hot water heating system.
- Freezing of plumbing and pipes.
Nevertheless, if your home is in a flood-prone area, you may want to consider flood insurance from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. Damage from flooding caused by a natural disaster is not covered by most standard home insurance policies.
2. Slips, Falls, and Other Injuries are a Liability
As young Kevin set-ups obstacles to foil the bandits in Home Alone, he also creates some common hazards that may create a liability for homeowners. These include icy sidewalks, broken glass ornaments, and dangerous stairwells. As the burglars come across Kevin’s booby traps, they tumble down the stairwell, slip and fall on slippery steps and sidewalks, and cut their feet on broken glass. In the movie, these hazards created hysterical calamities for the burglars, but in real life, they represent big liability risks for the average homeowner.
The personal liability portion of your homeowner’s policy covers homeowners against lawsuits for property damage or injuries they or their family members cause to other people. Nevertheless, homeowners may be wise to also invest in an umbrella policy to protect them from lawsuits that exceed the limits covered under their homeowner’s insurance policies.
3. Fire and Smoke Damage are No Joke
In addition, the bandits encounter blow torches and hot doorknobs as they attempt to gain entry into the McCallister’s home. In Home Alone, the home was not damaged by fire. But what if it had been? Fortunately, most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damage and destruction caused by fire and smoke.
4. Homeowners’ Insurance is the Best Defense Against Burglars
Although the burglars were not successful in gaining access to the McCallister’s home, they were able to rob several other homes in the area. The good news is the burgled neighbors’ homeowner’s insurance may help them recover their losses.
- Dwelling coverage helps with the cost of repairs due to a covered loss, which typically includes damage caused by a break-in. So if an intruder breaks a window or damages your door, dwelling coverage may help pay for repairs.
- Personal property coverage helps cover costs of repairing or replacing your belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a covered loss. So if an intruder steals items from your home, personal property coverage may help pay to replace them. But, if a high-value item like a ring is stolen, the homeowners will only be reimbursed up to the sub-limit. They have to pay the rest out of pocket.
It’s important to understand the limits on your coverages. Some homeowners may want to consider purchasing scheduled personal property to provide greater protection for some of their most valuable items, such as jewelry, furs, art, and antiques.
5. It’s Good to Know if Rental Trucks are Covered by Personal Auto Policies
As Kevin’s mother desperately tries to get home, she travels in the rear of a Budget Rental Truck when she accepts the offer of a kind-hearted man to travel with him and his fellow polka band members to Chicago. Does the driver’s personal auto insurance extend to rental trucks? Many times when renting a passenger car, drivers can decline the coverage offered at the counter. That’s because typically many auto insurance policies and credit card coverages also extend to rental cars.
It’s a different story with rented trucks and trailers:
- It’s common for personal auto policies to specifically exclude cargo vehicles, trailers and vehicles over a certain weight.
- Credit card coverage usually applies only to cars and other passenger vehicles.
Hopefully, the band secured extra coverage through the rental company before they embarked on their journey to Chicago. Whether you’re renting a truck or a car, it’s important to know what your insurance policy covers or doesn’t cover. Understanding your responsibilities and coverage makes a big difference in the event of an accident.
The happy ending in Home Alone is partially due to a watchful neighbor Kevin befriended, who rescues Kevin from the clutches of the burglars. Likewise, enlisting the expertise of an attentive, knowledgeable Healy Group personal insurance advisor to help you safeguard your home, auto, and treasures with the right homeowner, automobile and umbrella insurance protection for your situation, can also result in a happy ending when things unexpectedly go wrong.
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About the Authors
Connie Greenwood has 35 years of experience as an Insurance Advisor. She enjoys helping her clients and prospects understand their insurance options, and crafting insurance solutions tailored to their unique needs. Connie finds great joy in being a trusted advisor for her clients. She loves helping protect their financial welfare against unforeseen accidents and circumstances and bringing them peace of mind.
Tim Pingel has almost 20 years of experience as a personal insurance adviser. He provides individuals, couples, and families with home, auto, and umbrella insurance. His ultimate goal is to be his clients’ trusted adviser and expert, so they have the peace of mind and protection they deserve.