It can happen out of nowhere. Your dog gets a little too excited when he plays with your best friend’s child and snaps. Your stairs’ railing was a little wobbly and your Uncle Tom leans on it and falls to the floor below. You forget to put salt on your stoop and a woman from your bible group slips and falls. Injuries in your home can be a completely random occurrence, or a result of something you neglected to take care of, but they are always stressful and scary. The good news is, your homeowners’ insurance policy has both medical and liability insurance in the event an invited guest is injured in your home. However, what does this entail and what does it mean for your premiums? Here are a few considerations:
- The best way to avoid having to make a claim on your homeowners’ for a guest’s injury is to prevent it in the first place. It is your job as the property owner to warn visitors of potentially unsafe conditions. If you fail to do so, you can be held liable for their resulting injuries. So, make sure you not only alert them, but attempt to correct the issue as well by putting down salt or blocking off the dangerous area.
- If an injury occurs, it is important to contact your insurance company right away, so they are aware of the situation if you, or the other party, choose to make a claim.
- Most homeowners’ insurance policies have something called a “goodwill payment”, which you can use to pay for the medical bills of your injured guest. This usually amounts to around $5,000 and you have to claim responsibility for the injury. Using this benefit often prevents further litigation and bad will.
- If the injury unfortunately results in litigation, your homeowner’s insurance will help to pay for defense costs and the judgement given. This is why it is important to have adequate liability limits on your policy- many suits are significantly more costly than the average homeowner can pay for.
- If you make a claim of this nature, it will not affect your insurance premium unless it is overly large. This means that you can use the goodwill payment when you need to without fear of your costs going up, and avoid costlier litigation.
Let’s face it: having an injured houseguest is awkward at best and traumatizing at worst. By first making sure that your home is safe to the best of your ability, then communicating any potential hazards and being willing to rectify any injuries after they occur you can prevent the larger, more impactful litigation claims. If nothing else, speak to your personal insurance representative to be sure your limits are sufficient and you understand your own homeowner’s insurance policy.
“Are Homeowners Legally Responsible for Injuries to House Guests?” The Jeff Brooke Team: Personal Injury Law, www.jeffbrooketeam.com/blog/article/are-homeowners-legally-responsible-for-injuries-to-house-guests.
Nolo. “Slip and Fall Claims and Homeowners’ Insurance.” www.nolo.com. Nolo, July 26, 2013. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/slip-fall-claims-homeowners-insurance.html.