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Be a good neighbor, even if accidents happen

What happens if your neighbor has an accident, but it’s on your property? Learn who covers what (in neighborhood accidents) and how homeowners insurance could help.
June 10, 2020
3 min read
Learn about good neighbors and home insurance

Homeowners insurance exists to help protect you from financial repercussions if something happens at home — fire, broken sewer lines, termite damage, water leaks. Accidents are sure to happen, but what if it involves a neighbor, on your property? Injuries that happen at home like dog bites, slips and falls, falling trees, and food poisoning can lead to costly hospital visits and medical bills. But who’s fault is it? And more importantly, who has to pay for it? Thankfully, homeowners insurance may help protect you in situations like these, too.


Homeowners insurance and neighbors

Let’s say someone has a few neighborhood friends over for dinner. If a guest gets food poisoning or has a food allergy that was unknown, the homeowner may be responsible, but homeowners insurance could help protect them financially from the unknown.
In another case, maybe a neighbor offers to take down someone’s holiday lights, and then slips and falls off the ladder. If they get hurt, there could be hospital bills, doctor visits and medication to pay for. And because the accident happened on someone else’s property, that person could be to blame.
When it comes to homeowners insurance, the person at fault could be the one responsible for covering the damage financially. In the dinner situation, whoever served the food that caused the illness could be to blame. While in the case of the ladder, if the neighbor provided the ladder, and it wasn’t stable, even though the fall happened on someone else’s property, it could very well be the neighbor’s fault.
After it’s been decided who is at fault, there’s the question of what the responsible party’s homeowners insurance will cover. Most homeowners insurance offers two types of injury coverage: med-pay coverage and liability coverage.


Med-pay coverage

Med-pay will usually cover any medical bills or related expenses without having to prove the homeowner was to blame for the injuries. In the dinner situation, if the host knew the food was cooked with expired food or that one of their guests had a food allergy to something they served, the host would have shown negligence—a failure to exercise ordinary care. In this case, med-pay coverage could help cover the homeowner from any medical-related expenses passed on to the host. However, med-pay would not cover expenses related to pain and suffering or emotional distress.


Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects the homeowner from lawsuits filed after an incident. If the person who fell off the ladder decided to sue the neighbor they were helping, the neighbor’s liability coverage could protect them from that legal action. In this case, liability claims would only be paid if there was proof the homeowner was at fault for the incident.

When shopping for homeowners insurance, be sure to ask questions and make sure you find coverage that works best for you. If you already have a policy, call your homeowners insurance provider and see what your plan covers. Ultimately, by covering yourself you could be taking a step towards making your home safer for your family and the community.

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