Understanding your home insurance policy is crucial. Specifically, it’s important to know what your policy does and does not cover. Many homeowners wonder if their coverage extends to the appliances in their homes, such as the dishwasher, washing machine, or oven. Below, we break down all there is to know about home insurance coverage and household appliances.
Home insurance coverage and appliances
What you need to know about home insurance and appliances is that in some circumstances, your property insurance plan will cover the appliances in your home. However, this will only be the case if the damage to your appliances was caused by a named peril in your policy, like fire or theft. Most property insurance policies, whether we are talking about homeowner’s insurance, condo insurance, or even tenant insurance (check out our tenant insurance guide), do not cover wear and tear or manufacturer defects. Further, most basic home insurance coverage does not cover electrical or mechanical breakdowns of appliances, though some insurers do offer additional insurance for this in the form of equipment breakdown coverage. To ensure you are protected, purchasing a separate home warranty that reimburses homeowners for the cost of repairing or replacing broken down appliances due to more common circumstances, like wear and tear, may be a good option.
How does home insurance cover appliances?
Basic home insurance is likely to include protection for the appliances in your home under the contents coverage portion of the policy:
Contents / personal property coverage
Contents coverage, otherwise known as personal property coverage, is a key component of almost every home insurance policy. This type of coverage aims to protect the policyholder’s personal belongings located inside the home. These belongings may include items like electronics, jewellery, clothing, sporting equipment, and even some types of appliances. When it comes to appliances, personal property coverage is likely to cover those that can be plugged into an outlet, such as your refrigerator, oven, microwave, or dishwasher. This can vary whether you own or rent your home, if these items belong to you then you may be able to have them covered with your tenants policy, however, it’s best to confirm this information with an insurance broker. How content(s) coverage works is if the policyholder’s personal belongings are damaged or lost due to an insured peril listed in your policy, your insurer may reimburse you for the cost of repairing or replacing the missing item. The most common types of insured perils listed in home insurance policies are fire, lightning, smoke, theft, wind, car/aircraft impact, explosion, and falling objects. For instance, if theft was a named peril in your home insurance policy and a burglar broke into your home and stole your microwave, your insurance company might compensate you. Note that if your home has items of particularly high-value, like artwork, vintage wine, musical instruments, or even top-of-the-line appliances, you may need to consider high-value home insurance.
Dwelling coverage is also commonly seen in home insurance policies. It covers the physical structure of your home from damage caused by an insured peril. Insured perils often include fire, lightning, smoke, theft, wind, car/aircraft impact, explosion, and falling objects. This means that if a fire broke out and damaged the walls, doors, and windows on your property, your insurance provider would help cover the costs. Though you might think dwelling insurance does not cover appliances, certain types of appliances, namely built-in appliances, are often covered under this portion of your policy. Examples of built-in appliances include heating systems like furnaces and hot water heaters.
Detached structures coverage
Finally, if your home insurance plan features other structures coverage, also known as detached structures coverage, some of your appliances may be covered under this portion of your policy. Other structures' coverage is designed to protect a policyholder’s personal property that is not physically attached to the main property. In other words, it covers detached structures from damage caused by insured perils, like fire, smoke, and theft. Like dwelling and contents coverage, it does not cover general wear and tear. Examples of detached structures that may be protected under the other structures coverage section of homeowner’s insurance policies include sheds, gazebos, detached garages, guest houses, mailboxes, and more. How do appliances fit in with this group, you may be wondering? If there are any built-in appliances located in a detached structure on your property, such as a guest home, detached garage, workshop, or shed, they may be covered by your other structures insurance.
Equipment breakdown coverage
If you do not find your current home insurance coverage to be adequate when it comes to your household appliances, you may need to consider changing house insurance. One option, if you don’t want to cancel your existing policy and find a brand-new one, is to update your current plan by adding coverage to it. A BrokerLink insurance broker can help you with this process and can even offer advice on the best type of extra coverage to add if you want to protect your appliances: equipment breakdown coverage.
Equipment breakdown coverage is designed to protect a policyholder’s home appliances in the event that they break down due to a mechanical or electrical failure. This type of coverage can be added as an endorsement or rider to an existing homeowners insurance policy and will instantly enhance coverage for your household appliances. Equipment breakdown insurance usually covers a wide variety of appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, ovens, HVAC units, and even televisions. Examples of the types of damage that equipment breakdown insurance may cover include:
- Mechanical breakdowns, e.g. rupture or bursting caused by a centrifugal force
- Pressure systems breakdown
- Short circuits
- Improper installation
- Power surge
If an appliance in your home stops working due to the above, and your policy includes equipment breakdown coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance provider and they will likely reimburse you for the cost of repairing or replacing the broken piece of equipment. Even better, some insurance companies offer smart or high-efficiency replacements for household appliances, like Energy Star water heaters, air conditioners, or refrigerators.
The cost of equipment breakdown coverage
The cost of equipment breakdown coverage varies between providers and policyholders but may only amount to an additional $25 or $50 per year. Please note that adding any type of extra coverage to your home issuance policy, including equipment breakdown coverage, would likely lead to an insurance premium increase. Contact a BrokerLink insurance advisor to learn more about how adding this type of coverage to your plan may increase your rates. A BrokerLink insurance broker can also provide you with a complimentary home insurance quote that takes into account the cost of equipment breakdown coverage.
When are appliances not covered by home insurance?
There are a few circumstances in which your home insurance plan will not cover the appliances in your home. First, if you only have basic home insurance coverage that consists of dwelling, personal property, other structures, and personal liability coverage, then you must remember that your home appliances will only be covered if they are damaged by a named peril. If they are damaged by a peril not listed in your policy, your insurance company will not compensate you for any losses relating to your appliances. Examples of perils that are commonly excluded from home insurance policies include flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes, gradual water damage, and damage caused by pets or small creatures. To have these perils included in your policy, you should speak with an insurance broker about the home insurance endorsements or riders that may be available to you.
Next, home insurance policies do not cover general wear and tear of appliances or appliances breaking down because of age or lack of maintenance. Cosmetic damage and avoidable accidents are also unlikely to be covered.
Lastly, your home insurance policy may not cover the appliances in your home if they are damaged while your property is vacant or while it is under construction. For example, if you leave for an extended, two-month vacation and fail to notify your insurance provider or have a caretaker periodically check on your home, and someone breaks into your home and steals your appliances, your insurer may not reimburse you, even if theft is a named peril in your policy. Similarly, if your home is being renovated but you do not tell your insurance provider, and your household appliances get damaged during construction, the insurance company could deny your claim.
Home warranties for appliances
If you want your household appliances to be covered against a wider range of risks, such as wear and tear or old age, you may want to look into a home warranty. A home warranty comes into play when the manufacturer’s warranty on each respective appliance expires. As soon as your home warranty becomes valid, it would cover the cost of repairing a broken appliance if it stopped working due to age or wear. If you’re considering a home warranty, make sure to inquire about which specific appliances it covers. That said, most home warranties cover all typical household appliances, like ovens, stoves, furnaces, washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, HVAC units, and hot water heaters. Depending on the warranty you choose, additional items like electronics (television, computers, and servers) may also be covered.
Home insurance vs. home warranties
Given that home insurance only covers damages relating to appliances in very specific circumstances, some homeowners choose to purchase a home warranty on top of property insurance. A home warranty is one way of filling the gap that an insurance policy might leave. Warranties essentially function as service contracts, whereby repairs or replacements of appliances will be paid for if they stop working.
Anytime you sign a contract, whether it’s a mortgage loan agreement, home insurance plan, or home warranty, it’s important to read the fine print. Home warranties in particular are far from straightforward. Like home insurance, a warranty may also have several terms and conditions that must be met for your appliances to be covered. For instance, they might be particular about the types of appliances that are covered and under what circumstances. Warranties may also come with hidden fees in the form of co-payments to a contractor, and limits regarding the maximum amount a warranty company will pay for repairs. A home warranty can be worthwhile for some homeowners. However, for others, home insurance that features equipment breakdown coverage coupled with the manufacturer’s warranty on their appliances will suffice.
Other types of additional home insurance coverage that may be worthwhile
Beyond equipment breakdown coverage, there are several other types of additional home insurance coverage that homeowners might find worthwhile. Although the following does not pertain to household appliances, they can still enhance any home insurance policy and provide homeowners with greater peace of mind. For more information on home insurance coverage and how to update your policy to include any of the following coverage types, contact BrokerLink:
Many people believe that business insurance can only be purchased as a separate policy, but the reality is that it can be purchased as an endorsement of a home insurance policy. In fact, paying for a commercial insurance add-on may be necessary if you frequently work from home - especially if customers often visit your home - or if you operate a business out of your home. If your home, or even part of your home, is used for business purposes and it suffers damage due to your business, a basic home insurance plan is unlikely to cover you. But with a business coverage endorsement, you can be protected from losses in your home relating to both commercial and personal use.
Sewer backup coverage
Sewer backup coverage is a home insurance add-on that is designed to cover policyholders in the event of a sewer backup in their home. Given how extensive the water damage following a sewer backup can be, this type of coverage may be important. Please note that, while adding sewer backup coverage to your home insurance plan is likely to increase your rates, you can mitigate these costs by installing a sewer backup detection device in your home. This kind of device serves as a form of home flooding prevention, which can not only reduce your rates but can mitigate the effects of water damage in your home.
Overland water coverage
Overland water coverage is another type of water damage-related coverage. Homeowners who live in parts of Canada that are prone to heavy rain or snow, or in areas situated near large bodies of water, may be wise to add this type of coverage to their property insurance policies. How overland water coverage works is as follows: if your home suffers water damage due to a nearby lake/river, overflow, heavy rain, or rapid snow melt, your insurance company may help cover the cost of repairs.
Get in touch with BrokerLink for more information on how home insurance covers household appliances
Contact BrokerLink to learn more about home insurance and how it may or may not cover the appliances in your home. A licenced home insurance specialist at BrokerLink can explain the ins and outs of property insurance, going into detail about the circumstances under which the repair or replacement of your household appliances may be covered. They can also review your policy to confirm which specific appliances are covered and offer ways of enhancing your coverage, such as by purchasing an equipment breakdown insurance add-on. Beyond helping you understand how property insurance covers appliances, a broker can also help you renew your policy, update your policy, explain the difference between home insurance vs. homeowners insurance, and even provide advice on ways that you can save money on house insurance, such as through home insurance tax deductibles. Get in touch with your local BrokerLink branch over the phone, by email, or in person today.
FAQs on home insurance and appliances
Should I purchase a separate insurance policy for the appliances in my home?
A separate insurance policy that solely covers household appliances unfortunately doesn’t exist. That said, you can add certain types of coverage, such as equipment breakdown coverage, to an existing home insurance plan if you want greater protection for your household appliances. Equipment breakdown coverage won’t cover your appliances in all circumstances. However, it can pay for the cost of repairing or replacing them if they suffer a mechanical or electrical failure. Alternatively, if your insurance company does not offer equipment breakdown coverage, you could opt to purchase a home warranty, which may protect your appliances against a wider variety of risks, such as general wear and tear.
Does homeowners insurance cover stove fires?
If a built-in appliance in your home, such as a stove, is damaged in a fire, you will likely be covered by the dwelling insurance portion of your policy. Assuming fire is a named peril in your policy, your insurer should compensate you for the cost of repairing the damaged appliance, as well as the cost of repairing any other damage to the physical structure of your home.
Does homeowners insurance cover a damaged refrigerator?
Typically, home insurance policies will cover refrigerators just as they will cover other household appliances, such as dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, washing machines, and more. This means that if your refrigerator is damaged due to an insured peril listed in the dwelling, personal property, or other structures portions of your policy, or due to a mechanical or electrical failure listed in the equipment breakdown portion of your policy, it should be covered. Please note that if your refrigerator breaks down due to wear and tear, age, or lack of maintenance, your insurance company will not cover it, as will be the case for any other appliance in your home.
Can an insurance company deny my home insurance claim due to old or outdated appliances?
In most scenarios, no, an insurance provider cannot deny a policyholder’s claim due to an old or outdated appliance. So long as the damage was accidental and caused by a circumstance covered in your policy - such as an insured peril or a mechanical or electrical failure - the insurance company cannot deny your claim. The only circumstance in which an insurance company could deny your claim is if the appliance has been neglected by the policyholder and has fallen into a state of disrepair as a result.
If this is the case, and it is clear that the policyholder did not properly maintain their appliance, which led to the loss, an insurer could deny your claim. Keep in mind that if the appliances in your home are particularly old or outdated, your insurance premium is likely to be higher, and the more claims you make, the more likely it is that these premiums will rise year after year.
When should I update my home appliances?
While an insurance company will not monitor the lifespan of your household appliances, and an insurer cannot deny your claim solely on the grounds that an appliance is old or outdated, there will come a time when the appliances in your home need to be upgraded. Appliance lifespan varies depending on the appliance in question, as well as the specific manufacturer, make, and model. However, the general recommendation is as follows:
- Refrigerator: 10 - 20 years
- Washer and dryer: 10 - 15 years
- Oven: 10 - 15 years
- HVAC systems: 15 - 25 years
- Dishwasher: Every 10 years
If you have any questions, contact one of our local branches.