While home insurance policies will cover some personal injury claims, they don’t cover everything. Furthermore, the coverage that they do provide for personal injuries is limited to a certain amount, such as $100,000. Typically, a home insurance policy would kick in to pay for the personal injuries of another for which a member of that household was legally liable. The injury doesn’t necessarily have to occur on the property to be covered either. The existence of a homeowner’s insurance policy can affect a personal injury claim on both ends, whether you’re the plaintiff (the injured party) or the defendant.
Understanding Home Insurance Liability Protection
Home insurance liability coverage usually has two components: personal liability and medical payments. The personal liability portion pays for claims or lawsuits that are against you, and that stem from accidents (that you or a member of your household caused) on or away from your property, causing bodily injury to others. Personal liability will also cover property damage from such accidents. Liability coverage will pay for legal representation for you if you are sued by the injured party.
Keep in mind, though, that this coverage does not apply to injuries caused by intentional acts, auto-related accidents, or business-related incidents. Depending on your policy, personal liability will typically provide at least $100,000 of coverage per incident. With most policies, no deductible is associated with personal liability claims.
Medical payments coverage will cover the medical expenses of parties accidentally injured on the covered property, no matter whose fault it is, up to the policy limit. However, medical payments coverage does not pay for personal injuries to members of the household, nor does it cover injuries that arise from business-related activities.
Differentiating Between Negligence, Strict Liability, and Intentional Torts
The most common type of personal injuries that home insurance policies cover are those involving negligence, which means you didn’t cause the accident intentionally, but you did fail to exercise reasonable care somehow. A common example of a negligence personal injury claim is a slip-and-fall accident. For example, say you had company over, and your children had left marbles out at the top of your basement stairs. One of your guests slips on the marble, tumbles down the stairs, and either makes a claim on your insurance or sues you.
Strict liability, on the other hand, means the injured party does not have to prove that you were at fault. For instance, some states have strict liability dog bite laws, meaning you’re liable regardless of fault. Finally, home insurance policies will not cover injuries that result from any intentional acts by you or any member of your household. For example, if you assault someone, your policy’s coverage wouldn’t apply.
The interplay between home insurance and personal injury claims can be complex, whether you’re trying to recover on a claim or defend against one. Your insurance agent can only help you so much; more detailed advice requires an in-depth knowledge of personal injury law. A personal injury attorney can advise you on how the presence of a homeowner’s insurance policy may affect a personal injury claim. Call 1-800-ASK-FREE for a free consultation today.