Does Homeowner's Insurance Cover Your Personal Injuries?
The purpose of obtaining homeowner’s injuries are varied, but one major reason is to provide protection to homeowners should someone sustain a personal injury while on their property.
Examples of Covered Injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Faulty steps or lighting leading to injury
- Injuries from serving intoxicated guests
- Dog bites
The main type of coverage provided by homeowner’s insurance is for injuries that occur on your property. Guests can be injured on a broken step, by falling on a slippery surface, by falling on a toy left on the floor, or from a defective balcony or deck that suddenly collapses.
Under premises liability law, there can be different rules for determining when property owners are liable for personal injuries to someone on their property. Those who are on a homeowner’s premises are generally considered social guests if they have been expressly invited. Others, such as meter readers or letter carriers, are licensees because their presence has been implicitly consented to.
A homeowner is not required to look for defects or to warn guests of hidden defects or hazardous conditions they don't know about, but they do have a duty to repair or remedy known defects or to at least provide a warning. This includes defects such as a damaged step or a stairway that lacks a railing.
In cases of a guest slipping on ice or snow, many homeowner’s insurance policies, pursuant to state law, will not cover resulting injuries unless the snow or ice was an “unnatural accumulation.” Liability under the homeowner’s insurance will only be assessed if a condition on the property caused the unusual accumulation, for example by your shoveling the snow or ice into the driveway.
If a guest is injured by an assault on the property, the homeowner may not be liable if the risk was unforeseeable. For example, if a guest stays overnight and is assaulted by another guest or intruder, it is unlikely the homeowner considered this as a foreseeable risk unless the homeowner knew the guest had assaulted others and failed to at least warn others.
Guests attacked by dogs or other pets usually have a claim against the homeowner. These are typically strict liability cases, meaning that a person need not have provoked the animal and does not have to prove negligence by the homeowner. The fact that an assault occurred is sufficient, and homeowners usually will be covered under their homeowner’s insurance policy.
In some circumstances and depending on the jurisdiction, homeowners who serve alcohol to minors or to visibly intoxicated guests may be liable for personal injuries if those guests drive and injure others. Liability may not be found,however, if a host had guests supply their own alcohol or if other guests testify that the person who caused the injury was not obviously intoxicated when he left the premises.