Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Broken Windows?

If you have a homeowners insurance policy, you expect it to be there when something goes wrong. But what if there’s a relatively small problem, like a cracked or broken window? Does homeowners insurance kick in then? It depends on why the window broke. Here, we’ll give you a rundown of when you can count on insurance to replace a broken window.

What caused the window damage?

Imagine that someone buys a great old home, but the windows are drafty and need to be replaced. Homeowners insurance won’t pay to replace windows that no longer function properly due to wear and tear.

Now, let’s say a window is broken by a covered peril, like vandalism, someone breaking into the house, a storm, or a fallen tree branch. As long as the broken window was a result of a covered peril, homeowners can expect their insurer to pay.

The only exception may be if a window was damaged prior to the event. If a person lives in a home with dry rotted or drafty windows, their best bet is to speak with an insurance agent before peril hits to ensure coverage will be there if they need it — regardless of the age of the home. One hallmark of top home insurance companies is their willingness to respond to customer questions.

Situations when homeowners insurance covers broken windows

If any of the standard perils listed in the homeowner’s policy occur, their insurance company will pay to replace damaged windows. Here are some examples of typically covered perils:

  • vandalism
  • break ins
  • theft
  • Fire
  • hail
  • Fall trees

If you find that your current insurer is stingy with coverage, it’s okay to shop around. There are plenty of reasons to change homeowners insurance companies.

Situations when homeowners insurance does not cover broken windows

One of the common mistakes people make when buying homeowners insurance is believing it will cover anything that goes wrong in and around the home. As mentioned, a home insurance policy does not cover maintenance issues, like dry rot or drafty windows. For example, if condensation builds up between double-pane windows due to a broken seal, insurance will not cover the cost of repairing or replacing the window.

The simplest way for a homeowner to know if an insurance company will cover window replacement is to check their insurance policy for a list of covered perils. Let’s say a wind storm blows through and flying debris breaks a large window. Wind storms are considered a covered peril, and anything damaged due to that peril is covered.

What if someone breaks your window?

Let’s say that kids from the neighborhood are out playing catch, and a ball goes through your kitchen window. It’s the neighbor’s homeowners or renters insurance that should cover the loss. If they don’t carry liability coverage and you have proof of who broke the window, you have the option of taking them to small claims court.

What if you break someone else’s window?

Now, imagine that someone from your family accidentally breaks a neighbor’s window. You would be the one to make a claim to your insurance company, and the liability portion of the policy will cover the loss.

What if I break my own window?

If you, or someone in your household, break a window, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for a replacement window. Homeowners insurance will not cover the replacement.

Homeowners insurance policies for damaged or old windows

While older homes are known for character and charm, they’re often beset with issues like old or damaged windows. Older homes are also more likely to have problems with things like leaky basements and tree roots that damage patios and foundations. As homes age, they have different coverage needs. That’s why it’s so important to spend time searching different home insurance types before settling on a policy.

Here are three basic terms that can make shopping for homeowners insurance easier:

Open peril policies

An open peril policy is a type of homeowners insurance that provides protection against nearly all types of loss, except those specifically excluded within the pages of the policy.

In other words, if peril strikes, the insurance company will pay for losses and repairs unless the peril is explicitly named as an exclusion. Here’s a short list of the types of exclusions commonly included in open peril policies:

  • Earthquakes
  • Boiler exploded
  • Fungal damage
  • Seepage and sewer backups
  • Flood insurance
  • mud slides
  • Air or water pollution

Named peril policies

As the name implies, a named peril policy covers only losses specifically named within the pages of the insurance policy. Here are some of the perils commonly included in a named peril policy:

  • hail
  • windstorm
  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • riot
  • Smoke
  • Falling objects
  • theft

Home insurance deductibles and limits

A deductible is the amount of money a homeowner is required to pay toward repairs. For example, if repairs are going to cost $1,500 and the homeowner has a $500 deductible, they will pay the first $500 and the insurance company will cover the remaining $1,000.

Homeowners insurance carries limits. These limits represent the most the insurer will pay toward specific claims. Before purchasing a policy, homeowners should ask about limits and determine whether those limits seem sufficient.

How to get homeowners insurance to pay for new windows

One of the reasons a homeowners policy costs more in some states than others is because each region of the country experiences a different menu of perils. For example, you’ll find more flooding in coastal areas and a greater number of tornadoes in the Midwest. It’s also true that repair costs (and general cost of living) are higher in some parts of the country.

Before moving forward with a claim, a homeowner should make sure the loss is greater than their deductible. Let’s say it’s going to cost $1,000 to repair a picture window, but the homeowner’s deductible is $1,000. There’s no reason to file a claim since they’re responsible for the first $1,000 anyway. However, if their deductible is $500, that means that the homeowner will pay the first $500, and the insurance company will pick up the rest.

Once a homeowner determines that they want to make an insurance claim, here are the steps they will take:

  1. Document the loss, including damage caused by the broken window. For example, if the window was broken during a storm and rain got into the house, document anything that was damaged by the rain, including personal property. Photos and videos are the best way to document the damage.
  2. File a claim with the insurer. This may be done online or by calling an agent. An agent may advise a homeowner to put something over the window to prevent further damage.
  3. Expect a claims adjuster to come to the home and survey the damage. The adjuster will let the insurance company know what they found.

If the insurance company accepts the claim, they will likely cut the homeowner a check (minus their deductible). The homeowner will then coordinate repairs and payment.

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