Part of the benefit of being a homeowner is having an intimate space to entertain friends, family and other guests. But what happens when something goes wrong and a guest breaks a window, knocks over your new flat screen TV or damages something else around your home? While in a perfect world the guest would immediately apologize and offer to cover the damage, the reality of the situation can be much more complicated.
When a guest gets hurt on your property as a result of a danger they were not warned about, you are liable for their injuries. However, if a guest damages your property they, not you, are liable for the cost to fix it. Hopefully your guests will realize their fault and offer to cover the damage without making things unpleasant. Dealing with friends or family who are reluctant to pay for damages can be a sticky situation, but they do have a legal responsibility to reimburse you for the costs you incur. If they refuse to pay, you may have grounds for legal action.
The simple question may be “Does my homeowners policy cover damage caused by my guests?” Most of the time, the answer is yes. While normally a policy will provide coverage no matter who was at fault, you should review your policy for any situations excluded from coverage. Things to watch out for:
- Your policy may only cover the house or structure, meaning things like walls and floors.
- Damage to personal property such as furnishings or electronics may not be covered.
- Coverage may apply only to accidental damage.
The more important question is “Do I want to use my homeowners’ policy to cover damage caused by my guests?” The answer to this question can be much more complicated. Your guests are responsible for the costs involved with fixing any damage they cause. By instead using your homeowners’ policy to cover the damage, you may end up costing yourself in the long run. Your premiums can be affected by the claims you file, which means activating your policy to cover damage caused by a guest could influence your rates in the future.