What Is Covered by Homeowners' Liability Insurance?

by Tom Johnson ; Updated July 27, 2017

When purchasing a homeowner’s insurance policy, people often focus only on the coverage to their home and personal property that the policy provides. Also included in all standard homeowner’s policies is liability coverage. Liability coverage is often just as important as the other coverages provided by a homeowner’s policy because it provides protection against the financial consequences that you may suffer if your negligence injures someone or damages someone’s property.

Injuries at your Home

If someone is injured at your home due to the negligence of yourself or another member of the household, the liability coverage of your homeowner’s policy will compensate that injured person for his medical bills and for his pain and suffering. For instance, if someone falls on your property because you failed to maintain it properly, the injured person can make a claim against your liability coverage.

Damage to a Neighbor’s Property

You are legally responsible to maintain your home and property so you do not cause damage to another homeowner’s property. For example, if a neighbor’s property sustains damage from a dead tree on your property that you didn’t have removed, he can make a claim with your insurance company for his damages. Your homeowner’s liability insurance provides coverage for such damages.

Negligent Acts Away From Your Home

Injuries to others or damage to property that occurs away from your home due to the negligence of yourself or a member of your household may be covered by your liability coverage. For instance, if your child is away at college and injures someone while involved in a physical altercation, there may be coverage if the facts show your child did not intend to injure that person.

Defense Costs

If someone sues you for a negligent act covered by your insurance policy, your homeowner’s insurance company must provide you with a legal defense. Your insurance company has the right to select the defense attorney and to choose how to defend the case. The amount paid in defense costs does not count against the liability limits of your policy.

Limitations and Exclusions

Homeowner’s liability insurance does not provide coverage for all negligent acts. Most homeowner’s policies do not provide coverage for intentional acts or accidents that occur while you are driving. Also, the policy limits may not provide enough coverage for a negligent act. For instance, if you have a policy limit of $100,000 and the injured person receives an award from the jury for $500,000, you are responsible for paying $400,000. Read your insurance policy for information on all of its limits and exclusions.

About the Author

Tom Johnson graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in finance. He has worked in the insurance industry for over 15 years and is currently employed by a government agency that regulates insurance companies and brokers. Johnson began freelance writing in 2009, focusing his efforts on insurance and finance-related articles.