Home Insurance Woes

I heard a funny story this weekend and I had to answer an insurance questions related to it. The story is centered on a friend of mine, who was out salting his property. While pouring salt, he slipped and fell giving his backside a good smack. He thinks he is going to be out of work for a couple of weeks (due to soreness) and wanted to know if he could file a claim on his home insurance policy for lost wages.

Basically the answer was no. The liability portion of your homeowner’s policy is to protect you from lawsuits that arise from a third party (guests, neighbours, visitors etc) making a claim that you acted negligently in some fashion. In his case, he would be suing himself for not salting the stairs – resulting in his fall. The scenario would not make sense.

After digging deeper, I think that he was referring to disability insurance. This type of insurance is not found on home insurance policies – it is actually usually found on its own or in group plans. Typically, the disability policy has a waiting period before benefits begin (acting like a deductible) and protects you where your worker’s compensation benefits leave you.

In my friend’s case, he would only be out of commission for a couple a weeks and it generally falls within the waiting period where benefits aren’t paid.

As a homeowner, you will have to realize that you have to make your place reasonably safe for visitors (even illegal visitors). The level of duty that you have varies according to the purpose of the visit:

  • Invited guest – you have to remove hazards & make sure they know of any dangers
  • Walk-ups (like postal worker, newspaper delivery etc) – you have to make sure that dangers are removed (like ice on stairs etc)
  • Intruders – all we have to do for these people is to make certain that we are not setting up a trap for them.

While you will probably go your entire life without a claim against the liability portion of your home insurance policy, it is wise to know why the coverage is there. If you are presented with a lawsuit related to a slip and fall on your property – contact your insurance broker and insurance company – It may just save you money on legal fees!

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