Did you know damage caused by a slowly leaking water pipe hidden behind a wall in your house isn’t covered on a standard homeowner’s insurance policy?

How about a busted furnace, a damaged buried utility line or a stolen/lost engagement ring? Nope, none of those are covered without an endorsement on your homeowner’s policy.

What are endorsements and how do they work, you ask? An endorsement changes a homeowner’s policy language to cover some type of loss that is not normally covered. Essentially, you agree to pay the carrier a few extra bucks and they agree to provide extra coverage.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, it is…and it isn’t. Speaking with a FirstMark Insurance agent is a great first step in understanding the ins-and-outs of the plethora of endorsements most homeowner’s policies offer.

Below are some of the more common endorsements people choose to add to their homeowner’s policies. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of all coverages that are available. This list is a great place to start the discussion with your FirstMark agent about endorsements.

Hidden Water Damage: This one can be a hard pill to swallow. If you have a slow water leak in a pipe behind a wall, the resulting damage won’t be covered on most homeowner’s policies as it’s typically looked at as a maintenance issue. This isn’t totally fair because most people don’t have x-ray vision.

To combat this long-standing issue, some carriers have added an optional endorsement to cover this damage. To date, there are very few carriers who have this endorsement available, though it does seem to be a growing trend in the industry. Be sure to ask your FirstMark agent about this one!

Water/Sewer Back Up: If a water or sewer pipe on your property gets clogged and causes a back up into your home, a typical homeowner’s policy will cover that damage. However, if the clog originates from a pipe off your property (or your sump pump) and that causes a back up into your house, there’s, typically, no coverage there.

The water/sewer back up endorsement provides coverage (up to a specified dollar amount) when this type of loss happens. The people who are most likely to experience this type of loss either live at the bottom of a hill or on the downslope of a hill.

Equipment Breakdown: The most important thing to know about this endorsement is that it is not a maintenance endorsement. This endorsement helps replace certain big-ticket items such as: furnaces, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers and dryers that suffer sudden and accidental damage.

This can be a very helpful endorsement when a relatively new item stops working. We’ve seen it save people up to $10,000. But if your furnace and/or appliances are near the end of their lives, this is not the endorsement for you. You’d be better off getting a home warranty plan that specifically covers maintenance issues.

Scheduling: If you want a specific item covered for the exact amount that it is worth, scheduling said item is the way to go. Most homeowner’s policies have sub-limits for certain items that tend to be worth a lot, i.e. jewelry, art work, firearms, silverware, etc. So, if you want to be sure that you’ll receive the full appraised value of that $18,000 diamond ring or your $25,000 painting, you might consider scheduling it on your homeowner’s policy.

Buried Utility Lines: The vast majority of homes have buried utility lines that go from the home and connect to a main grid underground whether it be for water, sewer, power or internet. In most cases, these items are not covered by homeowner’s policies without a Utility Lines endorsement. As is true with most endorsements, there are certain causes of loss that are and are not covered. Be sure to ask your FirstMark Insurance agent about the specifics.

Earthquake/Flood: Damage caused by earthquakes and/or floods are specifically excluded on standard homeowner’s policies here in the Pacific Northwest. These exclusions represent giant holes in your coverage. Some homeowner’s policies do allow for earthquake coverage to be endorsed onto them, however, the coverage provided is typically not as robust as simply purchasing a separate earthquake policy. Be sure to check out our other blog post on the specific coverages provided by a separate earthquake policy.

Most homeowner’s policies do not provide a flood endorsement so if you feel you need flood coverage (or if you’d been told you need it by your lender), talk to a FirstMark Insurance agent about how to obtain a flood insurance policy.

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