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What Are Home Insurance Riders?

A home insurance rider — also called endorsements — is an optional add-on to a standard homeowner’s insurance policy that adds coverage for specific items or damages. There are various types of riders, such as those that cover expensive jewelry or art collections, and those that cover water damage caused by a sewer backup. Homeowners add riders to modify their homeowner’s insurance policy so that they are protected from otherwise excluded or limited coverages.

The Benefits of Home Insurance Riders

Adding a home insurance rider to your policy increases the flexibility of your homeowner’s insurance coverage. It allows you to add coverage for items and situations that are not typically included in a standard policy.

Additional Coverage for Your Valuable Belongings

If you own art, antiques, or jewelry, your standard policy may not cover the full replacement cost if any of those things are damaged or stolen from a covered peril. Owners of high-value items could add a rider specifically for those items, which would increase coverage limits, often to each item’s appraised value.

Or, if you’re planning to invest in expensive landscaping, are running a home-based business, or want to make sure your boat, jet ski, or other similar items are fully covered, adding riders specific to each of those things to your home insurance policy may be appropriate.

Additional Coverage for Special Situations

You can also use a rider to add extra protection against things like some natural disasters, mold, and fungus, or even identity theft. For example, sewage backup damages are often excluded from most homeowner’s insurance policies, but you could add that coverage with a rider so that if a pipe breaks, your insurance can help pay for repairs.

Some home insurance companies may also offer riders for certain types of natural disasters, though it should be noted that flood and earthquake damage often require entirely separate policies.

How Home Insurance Riders Work

Each insurance company has its own eligibility requirements for obtaining coverage. In many cases, the insurance carrier will require an appraisal or a detailed description of the item or items you want to insure. If you think you need a home insurance rider, reach out to your insurance company or speak with your agent.

Once you’ve provided the necessary information, your insurance company will add the rider to your policy, send you a bill for the increased premium, and send a confirmation once your coverage goes into effect. Your rider is attached to your homeowners policy and remains in effect until you either cancel the rider or cancel your policy.

If you suffer a loss that is covered by the rider, you can contact your insurance company and file a claim for the loss in the same way you would for your basic home insurance policy.

Overview of the Different Types of Home Insurance Riders

There are many different types of home insurance riders to choose from. The most common are:

  • Riders for personal property
  • Riders for damage to your home
  • Specialized riders

Depending on what you own and where you live, one or a combination of riders may be valuable to add to your standard home insurance policy.

Riders for Personal Property, or Scheduled Personal Property Riders

Riders for personal property, also called “scheduled personal property riders,” provide extra coverage for the valuable things you own. Not only can these riders increase the amount of insurance on the covered item(s), but they may also protect against additional risks not typically covered under homeowners insurance, such as losing or misplacing the item.

Standard home insurance policies provide personal property coverage that is typically set at around 50% to 70% of your dwelling coverage amount. However, some specific high-value items have limits on coverage; for example, theft of jewelry may only be covered up to $2,500. If you own high-value items like jewelry, antiques, or collectibles that would cost you more than the standard coverage amount to replace, a scheduled personal property rider might be a smart choice for you.

Jewelry riders

  • Standard Coverage: As little as $1,000 to $2,500 for jewelry

One common reason homeowners purchase a jewelry rider is to cover their engagement and wedding rings, which are often worth well over the standard coverage. Most jewelry riders cover each individual piece of jewelry you own at an agreed-upon value, which is typically the appraised value.

They can be used for high-end watches too and usually protect against damage, theft, and even mysterious disappearances, such as if you are unsure if the item was stolen or misplaced. Some higher-end riders may also reimburse you if a gem or stone falls out of your jewelry or watch.

Fine art and antique riders

  • Standard Coverage: Compensation based on the item’s actual cash value at the time of loss

A fine art and antique rider covers items like a cherished Oriental rug or the antique silverware that has been in the family for generations. Since these types of items are typically irreplaceable, a standard insurance policy’s actual cash value factors in depreciated value, reimbursing for far less than what the item is truly worth.

When you purchase a fine art and antique rider, you and the insurance company agree upon the replacement value of each item upfront so there are no surprises if loss or damage occurs.

Collectibles riders

  • Standard Coverage: Up to policy limits

If you have a prized coin collection, valuable model trains, baseball cards, or other types of high-value collectibles, you may want to consider purchasing a collectibles rider. In some cases, it’s possible for a rare collectible to be worth more than your home, so it likely makes sense to insure it specifically.

Riders for Damage to Your Home

Once you’re confident your valuables are covered, you may want to consider some of the scenarios that could cause structural damage to your home. Standard insurance policies cover perils like fire, lightning, theft, and vandalism. But many exclude situations such as damage from tornadoes or water damage from a backed-up drain.

Luckily, you can purchase riders to cover some of these events. Depending on where you live and the age of your home, these damages may be likely to occur. Adding appropriate riders to your policy could give you the insurance you need to cover the replacement cost of your home.

Water backup rider

A backed-up drain or sump pump can flood your home and ruin your floors, drywall, and furniture. Not only can it be expensive to replace these items, but there’s also a cost involved in removing the water and properly drying out your home to avoid mold and rot. Standard policies typically do not cover this peril without a rider.

Building code rider

When you make a claim, your standard home insurance policy covers the cost of repairing your home’s existing structure to its original state. However, if you live in an older home, you may find that it’s no longer up to code. A building code rider covers the costs associated with any additional work that needs to be done to bring your home into compliance with current building codes.

Weather or natural disaster peril riders

If your home is hit by a tornado, mudslide, or another natural disaster, the damage may be severe. Depending on the typical weather conditions where you live, you may want to purchase home insurance riders like windstorm coverage and/or sinkhole loss. However, some natural disasters are not covered under policy riders and require a separate insurance policy altogether, such as flood insurance.

Specialized Riders

Your home insurance policy can cover more than just your home. With the right riders, you can add coverage for your at-home business, your boat and jet ski, and even protect yourself against identity theft. Here’s a closer look at each of these riders.

Home business riders

With so many people making the move into home-based offices, home business riders are becoming more popular than ever. These home policy riders can help protect your business inventory, computers, office furniture, tools, and other business-related property.

If a client was hurt while visiting your home-based business, your standard home insurance policy likely wouldn’t cover it, whereas a home business rider would add that protection. Some home business riders also cover general commercial liability, business interruption, accounts receivable (up to a specified limit), and more.

Identity theft rider

Though stand-alone identity theft protection programs and insurance policies are available, you could also add an identity theft rider to your home insurance policy. This rider can help you pay for costs like legal fees if your identity gets stolen. In many cases, a rider is less expensive than a separate policy or program.

Trailer and watercraft riders

Standard home insurance policies usually provide some coverage for boats and other specific watercrafts, but it’s typically not as much as would be needed for full coverage. Adding a rider ensures your eligible watercrafts and trailers are financially protected and offers coverage whether they’re at home, in transit, docked, or on the water. However, keep in mind that larger boats may not be covered by a rider and instead may require their own separate insurance policy for coverage.

How Much Do Home Insurance Riders Cost?

Some riders, like identity theft and business property coverage, have an average cost of $25 to $50 per year. Others vary in cost depending on the value of your home or specific items being insured. However, adding home insurance riders to your existing policy costs significantly less than obtaining separate insurance policies.

How to Choose the Right Home Insurance Riders for Your Needs

When choosing a home insurance rider, be careful not to base your decision on price alone. Instead, take the time to read through the details so you can fully understand what is covered and ensure the rider you’re considering meets your need.

1. Assess your belongings to see if you need any personal property riders.

Make a list of your belongings, noting how much it would cost you to replace each item should it be damaged or stolen. From there, you may realize that some of your property is valuable enough to warrant a scheduled personal property rider. Get the appraised value of the items to better understand how much coverage you would need from the rider.

This is good practice even if you end up not needing any personal property riders, as it will allow you to get an updated inventory of your belongings for your standard home insurance coverage.

2. Assess your home and location to see if you need any damage riders.

Consider the weather patterns, age, and build of your home to determine if you are at risk for any specific damages that are excluded under a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. For example, if you live in the nation’s Tornado Alley, you are at greater risk of experiencing damage to your home from high winds. In this case, adding a rider for windstorm damage would help pay for repairs in the event of a tornado.

3. Assess your work and lifestyle to see if you need any specialized riders.

If you have a home business or spend a lot of time dealing with online merchants, you may benefit from identity theft protection and home business protection. The same is true if you own special property that is typically excluded from a home insurance policy, such as a jetski.

4. Compare quotes and rider availability from multiple insurers.

To compare your options, you may work with a trusted home insurance agent or find insurance companies and get quotes yourself. Be prepared with some baseline knowledge of your home and belongings, such as valuation, age, type, and location. Once you have quotes, you may also look into rider options available from each insurer, as well as how their standard policies cover personal property. This will give you a better idea about how much additional coverage you may need with a rider.

5. Make your selection and purchase a policy.

After considering what you need, narrow your options to the policies that will most comprehensively cover your home and belongings from the damages most likely to occur. From there, consider your budget, each insurance company’s overall reputation for customer satisfaction, and your own personal preferences to make your final selection. After choosing an insurer, you can formally apply and purchase a policy.

Adding a Rider to Your Home Insurance Policy

You may add a rider when you first purchase your policy or later. To do so, have details about your belongings ready if you would like to add a personal property rider, or about your home business if you would like to add a home business rider. Other riders may not need upfront documentation, though this will depend on your insurance company. Then, consult with your insurer so they can explain your policy rider options and help you choose the most appropriate coverage for your needs. 

Putting It All Together

Your home insurance policy is designed to protect you if the unthinkable happens, but a basic policy might not cover everything you need. To supplement these gaps, riders can add, delete, exclude, or change your insurance coverage. If your homeowners’ insurance policy excludes or limits coverage for something you need, adding a rider may ensure you have the appropriate coverage.