If you've ever experienced a home burglary, you know how shocking it can be. Luckily, home insurance can come to the financial rescue.
Home insurance typically covers stolen computers, furniture, clothes, jewelry -- even stolen cash -- up to the policy's limits.
If you own valuable items, standard homeowners insurance may not be enough to cover the full value. It typically limits the amount of theft coverage on these and other items:
- Jewelry - $1,500 limit
- Firearms - $2,500 limit
- Silverware - $2,500 limit
- Securities, tickets, stamps - $1,500 limit
- Cash - $200 limit
- Property in the residence being used for business - $2,500 limit
- Valuable collections
- Musical instruments
For coverage on valuable jewelry, another alternative is jewelry protection insurance. With this separate policy, any claims you make won't affect future home insurance premiums.
Surprising things covered by home insurance
You may not realize that you can generally make a theft claim for more than personal property inside your house. A standard home insurance policy will typically cover:
- Theft of trees, shrubs and other plants: The theft of the bushes from your front lawn may not be top of mind when you think of criminals scoping out your property, but it does happen. Take the Salt Lake City woman who stole a bush while walking her dog. Or the Philadelphia man who ripped out a nice Juniper topiary and drove off with it. Theft coverage is often limited to $500 for any one tree, shrub or plant, and up to a total limit of 5% of the amount of coverage on your dwelling.
- Theft of credit cards: A standard policy generally covers up to $500 for your "legal obligation" to pay unauthorized charges. But note that you can be held liable for only up to $50 of unauthorized charges on any one card, and some credit card companies, like Discover, won't hold you liable for any amount.
- Theft of a debit card: A standard policy generally covers up to $500 for unauthorized charges to a debit card.
Does homeowners insurance cover theft outside the home?
Yes, if someone steals your phone from a coffee shop or steals your cash while you're on vacation, you can typically file a homeowners claim.
Does insurance cover children living away at college?
Yes, a homeowners policy generally covers your child's belongings at college. For example, that can include a TV stolen from the dorm room or a laptop stolen at the library.
What does homeowners insurance not cover?
Not all cases of theft are generally covered by homeowners insurance, including:
- Theft while a home is under construction. If someone steals equipment or tools from your home while it's being built, the policy typically doesn't pay out.
- Theft in places you rent out to other people. If you rent your guest house to a tenant and they're robbed, it will generally not be covered by home insurance, even if it's technically on your property. The renter would need to file a theft claim under their renters insurance, if they have it.
Does homeowners insurance cover auto theft?
A homeowners policy will not cover car theft. If you have comprehensive insurance, your auto insurer will cover the stolen car.
But home insurance will generally cover theft of belongings from a car, like your phone or purchases you stored in the trunk.
Insurance claims for theftFollow these steps to make a home insurance theft claim:
- Notify the police immediately. You'll need a police report to file a theft claim.
- Contact your insurance company to start the claims process.
- Compile a list of stolen belongings. Include receipts, if they're available. Having a home inventory can speed up the claims process.
- Fill out any claim forms.
- Remember that a claims check for theft will be reduced by the amount of your deductible.
- Note that making a theft claim could cause your home insurance rates to go up in the future.
How to prevent home theft
You can make a thief's job harder by:
- Securing doors and windows. Putting deadbolt locks on exterior doors and securing windows can help prevent break-ins. If you have a sliding door, placing a rod in the door channel will make it harder to force open.
- Adding a home security system. Not only will this help stop burglars, but home security systems could also get you a discount on homeowners insurance.
- Getting a dog. Thieves who know you have a dog may avoid your home.
- Keeping your home well-lit. Burglars may choose to pass over your house if it has proper outdoor lighting, especially motion-detection lighting.
- Making your home look lived-in when you're away. Leave lights on a timer and consider leaving a TV or radio on. Don't post about your travels on social media until after you get back. Stop your mail and newspapers so they don't pile up.
- Draw your curtains or shades. If a thief can see valuable items through a window, they might be likely to target your home.
- Don't leave a spare key out. Burglars sometimes know the common spots to store spare keys -- under the mat, in a flower pot, inside a fake rock. Instead, leave a spare key with a neighbor or friend. If you decide to leave a key outside, make sure it's in a creative spot.