Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…right?
Only if that neighbor has limitations and provisions that no other neighbor out there has.
State Farm isn’t the worst insurance company out there. I will continue to let Allstate and Farmers/Truck Insurance fight over that title. But State Farm has some sneaky provisions which you should be made aware of before you decide to trust them “like a good neighbor.”
Unlike Allstate and some other carriers, State Farm only offers homeowners an HO-3 policy, also known as an “all-risks” policy. This means that all accidental direct physical loss is covered unless it is excluded.
This is good language, because there is no sudden requirement under the State Farm policy. However, there are some exclusions that State Farm will not pay for which other providers might normally cover:
1. Access To Fix Problems
State Farm has stopped paying for access to fix your broken pipes. I cannot stress enough how ludicrous this new policy language is. It is unconscionable, unheard of, and unrealistic.
Allow me to explain exactly what this means. Under the old State Farm policy, your insurance covered the cost to dig or demolish in order to get to broken pipes, as well as the cost to put your property back to the way it was before the loss. That is the entire purpose of insurance.
(Note that State Farm adheres to policies followed by all other insurance providers in refusing to pay for pipes damaged due to old age. They would simply cover the cost to access the pipes, then repair any walls or flooring removed during access.)
Now, State Farm’s stance has changed. They will only “pay the reasonable cost you incur to tear out and replace only that particular part of the building…necessary to gain access to the specific point of that system or appliance from which the water or steam escaped.”
For example, let’s say that you suffer a loss from a damaged pipe located beneath a concrete floor. State Farm claims that they are only liable to cover costs to remove the concrete in the very specific, targeted point where the water escaped from the pipe. Obviously, this is incredibly unrealistic, as plumbers will not be able to make the necessary repair within such small confines.
But wait, it gets worse. Imagine you have a drain line that collapses, causing water to overflow from your toilet. State Farm will refuse to pay you for access to fix the drain line.
Both of these situations should be covered under your State Farm Policy. The language is not only ambiguous, but it is unconscionable. And whenever there is ambiguous language, it must be read in favor of the homeowner. And if it is unconscionable, then it must be removed entirely.
Wheeler, DiUlio, & Barnabei are currently disputing with State Farm on this exact issue, on behalf of a client who has suffered water damages to their property. We will continue to fight them until the policy is changed.
2. Tree Roots
Whether or not an insurance company will pay for damage caused by tree roots is entirely dependent on which company you choose. However, every other carrier I have seen will cover “ensuing losses” – except for State Farm.
This may sound confusing, so let me explain. A tree root grows into your drain line and causes it to clog up. That clog then causes water to overflow from your toilet and into your house.
Now, a “normal” insurance company would cover the water damage to your home, but they wouldn’t cover that damage to your drain line. The drain line was directly damaged by the tree roots, but the water damage is considered an “ensuing loss” and is normally covered.
Unless you have State Farm.
So, if you are in an area with a lot of tree or big bushes, beware of State Farm and the unconscionable tree roots exclusion.
These are just two of the most glaring differences with State Farm compared to other carriers, but they are extremely important to making the proper decision when obtaining homeowners insurance.
I have personally fought each of these issues relentlessly, working hard to make sure our clients receive the compensation they deserve. If your claim has been denied due to either of these issues, or if you have any other questions about your coverage under State Farm, give us a call.