Got a cracked windshield? You might get it fixed for free if your auto insurance includes glass coverage. If a major storm knocked out your power and everything in your freezer went bad, your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of the spoiled food. And, if the stash of emergency cash in your sock drawer went up in flames during a fire, your policy could replace your burned-up bucks. These are just a few of the little-known – and frequently overlooked – built-in perks of some policies.
When you think about buying a homeowner's or renter's policy, you’re typically worried about replacing the house if it catches fire or has the roof torn off during a severe storm. A comprehensive policy does more than that, however, including coverage of your contents and personal possessions, as well as protection from lawsuits and liability if an accident happens on your property.
Tucked into these provisions are all kinds of additional benefits just waiting to be discovered, like Easter eggs in World of Warcraft. Check your policies, as the coverage limits, conditions and terms can vary widely.
Spoiled food: One great way to cut your family budget is to save on groceries by stocking up on sale items, including steaks, chops and poultry that can fill up your freezer. Teri Gault, CEO of the grocery savings website TheGroceryGame.com, estimates that her subscribers can save enough in one month to buy a small standalone freezer to hold even more bargains. When the power goes out, your cache of cut-rate New York strips and Butterball turkeys can spoil, though. Most homeowner's policies cover up to $500 worth of food that has gone bad. To file a claim, you need to show that an outage occurred, and not just that your old Kelvinator fridge bit the dust.
Gravestones: If you own a burial plot and its accompanying headstone, your homeowner's policy may consider it part of your personal property and subject to all the coverage that would apply to your home. That can include damage from a tree falling on a grave marker to a flood that washes out the foundation and cracks a headstone. It also can include vandalism, just as if someone spray-painted your garage. The Insurance Service Organization, an insurance analysis firm, recommends that policies cover up to $5,000 of damage to grave markers in standard forms. The coverage can even extend to gravesites in other states or plots that you’ve inherited.
Your cash stash: Normally, if you lose money, it’s gone forever, but not if the greenbacks are destroyed in an accident at your house or stolen – even if it’s taken by a tradesman you’ve invited onto your property. Most policies consider cash to be personal property, and cover coins, currency, gift cards and other cash equivalents, up to anywhere between $200 and $1,500. It helps to have some proof that you held the cash, such as a withdrawal, ATM receipt or police report. The same coverage doesn’t apply to auto policies, however, and may not cover cash on hand from a home-based business, depending on the policy and details.
Doing windows: Your comprehensive auto coverage may waive the deductible to repair a cracked or chipped windshield. The reason is that auto insurers would rather fix a repairable windshield than bear the cost of having to replace the entire piece of glass, even after your deductible is paid.
Cattle stampedes and more: Damage to your property if a herd of cows veers off the Chisholm Trail and through your fence can be covered, as well as lawsuits involving dog bites (averaging about $30,000), not to mention damage caused by rioters, falling meteorites and space debris, or fires prompted by lava flows from erupting volcanoes. Check your policy and contact your insurance agent before the herd of cows comes for an unwelcome visit.