Just like a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) combines multiple categories of protection into a single policy, typical homeowners insurance covers three major categories:
- Structure – Protects your home’s roof, walls, foundation, etc.;
- Liability – Protects you from lawsuits in the event a third party experiences injury, damage, or loss (i.e. your dog bites someone or your neighbor slips and falls on your stairs);
- Personal property – Protects your belongings (i.e. anything you would take with you when you move) against damage and/or theft.
It is this last category—theft—that often raises questions, even among veteran homeowners.
You probably already know that you are covered if a thief breaks into your house and steals your new MacBook Pro, but what if it’s stolen from the Starbucks down the road?
Your belongings don’t always stay neatly within your home. You take them with you when you travel or let your children take them off to college.
Does homeowners insurance cover theft outside the home?
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Theft Outside the Home?
In most cases, yes.
Off-premises coverage, as it’s usually called, protects your personal belongings when they are not located inside your covered home. In some cases, it may be added as a rider to your existing homeowners insurance policy but, most of the time, it’s a standard part of home insurance coverage. Off-premises coverage usually only covers up to 10% of your on-premises limit. So, if you have $100,000 of contents coverage you likely have $10,000 for off-premises.
So, where would off-premises coverage apply? Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Travel is one of the more common reasons for bringing your belongings outside of the house. Off-premises coverage would cover things like lost or stolen luggage and theft from your hotel room or rental car.
Your possessions are also protected when they’re in your car. While your auto insurance would be responsible for physical damage and theft of audio equipment (or the entire car), your homeowners insurance may cover theft of anything unattached to the car.
Storage units and moving trucks can be covered as well. So if a rogue employee breaks into your storage space or a shady moving company makes off with your furniture, you may receive some compensation. Check your policy for specifics.
One instance you may not expect to be covered is with your kid at college. If you’re sending your new graduate off to Tallahassee this fall, off-premises coverage can help if their laptop is stolen at the library. The only caveat here is that this coverage usually only applies while they are living in campus housing. They’ll probably have to get their own policy if they move into their own house or apartment and claim legal residence at that address.
Personal Property Coverage Limits
There are limits to any kind of insurance, and personal property coverage is no different.
Most homeowners policies have a personal property limit up to 50% of the policy’s dwelling coverage limit, and 10% of the dwelling coverage limit for off-premises coverage. So if your structure is insured up to $200,000, your personal belongings will be covered up to $100,000, and off-premises coverage up to $10,000.
You insurer will also have sub-limits for highly valuable objects such as cash, jewelry, antiques, boats, and firearms (just to name a few). For example, if your $2,000 diamond necklace is stolen from your moving van but your jewelry coverage is limited to $1,500, you’ll get $1,500, even if your off-premises limit is $10,000.
To get more coverage for valuable objects, a personal article floater can increase your coverage limit and protect against accidental loss (something homeowners insurance doesn’t do).
Theft of business property will likely not be covered by your homeowners insurance, either, even if it was stolen from your home or you own a home-based business. You will have to purchase a Business Owner’s Policy instead. Some homeowner policies do have a small amount of business property coverage, but you’ll have to check your policy to be sure.
Protecting your personal belongings against theft involves more than keeping your front door locked. In the event that you become a victim of theft outside the home, you want to know that you are covered.
Check your policy to make sure you have adequate off-premises coverage. An independent insurance agent should be able to assist you with increasing your coverage limits, adding a rider to your existing policy, or shopping for a different insurer.
It’s also a good idea to keep a home inventory and regularly update it. If you experience a loss, you will have a record of the item’s existence and condition, which can help when filing a claim.
At Harry Levine Insurance, our goal is to make sure you and your belongings are protected against whatever life throws your way. Contact us today so we can discuss your insurance options and close any gaps in your coverage.