The TV show "Mythbusters" made news this week in a way they hadn't expected from an accident that was also unexpected: the "Mythbusters" Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman were doing an experiment using a cannon when a cannonball went awry and accidentally ended up going through a nearby Bay Area home and landing on a minivan. Both the home and the minivan were damaged.
Even though it's not everyday that you hear about a cannonball damaging a home, unexpected crazy accidents do occur at home. Sometimes these accidents are so odd that they sound like something made for TV but they are real, and they happen to real people.
Such as the time that insurance expert Kevin Alsup heard from a client whose home was filling with sewage. "His house was located at the bottom of hill, and you know that old saying that everything runs down hill," recalls Alsup, director of insurance for the Foundation Financial Group in Jacksonville, Florida. "The city was purging the sewer lines, and this guy had sewage shooting like a geyser out of all the commodes in his home."
Luckily, Alsup's client had what's called a "water back up" endorsement on his homeowner's insurance. Alsup explains that water backup is a good idea to have on your insurance policy, if it isn't included already, because it covers water damage in a home involving a "pipe." "Many people don't carry it, because it happens very little, but when it does, it's bad," he says. The "it" is when a sewer line accident occurs, or a well pump fails and starts pumping water back into your home.
Alsup said that if your homeowner's insurance doesn't cover water backup, adding it would cost between $15 and $20 per year.
Besides sewage spewing into a house, other oddball accidents that might involve your homeowner's insurance include golf balls through your windows (if you happen to live near a golf course—a common occurrence in Florida where Alsup is based) or a vehicle driven into your house.
Don't laugh. A person driving a car into a house happens more often than you might think. In these instances, Alsup says, the driver's insurance should cover any damage your home incurs, since most car insurance policies cover property damage.
Regardless of what damages your home may incur, always document that damage with photographs and video. Of course, you should call your insurance agent as well as get an estimate on how much repairs will cost—just as I did when I was dealing with that ice dam last year. But be aware that oftentimes it doesn't make sense financially to file a claim. "If it costs $250 to repair the window the golf ball broke and your deductible is $1,000," Alsup explains, "you're not going to get a payout." Plus, the more claims you file over time, the more your insurance could cost in the long run.
At least now you'll know what to do should a cannonball or car crash into your home!