Your home insurance provides a lot of protection for your house and your belongings. But there are certain types of damage that it won’t cover. It’s important to know about them so you can prepare with either additional coverage or preventive maintenance. Here are four of them, along with a look at what home insurance does include:

1. Floods

You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating. While standard home insurance polices don’t cover flood damage, both homeowners and renters can buy a separate flood insurance policy. It’s a no-brainer if you live in a high-risk flood zone (it may even be mandatory in these areas), but those in moderate- to low-risk areas should consider it, too. More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from people outside of high-risk areas, according to But don’t wait for the next flood warning to be issued: There’s a 30-day waiting period before federal flood insurance takes effect.

2. Sinkholes

In most places, a sinkhole opening up and swallowing your house is pretty rare. Sinkholes happen when moving water erodes limestone or similar rock underground, creating large cavities that cause the ground above to collapse. Standard home insurance policies exclude sinkhole damage, along with damage from earthquakes—but there are exceptions. Insurers in Florida and Tennessee, where sinkholes are more common, are required to offer optional sinkhole coverage. Florida goes a step further, requiring standard homeowners policies to include coverage for “catastrophic ground cover collapse”—meaning damage that’s so severe it leaves a home uninhabitable.

3. Mold

A mold problem can be expensive—and dangerous—to deal with, but standard home insurance doesn’t cover it. Typically, it’s considered to be an issue related to lack of maintenance, along with damage from termites, rodents or other pests, and general wear and tear. But, if your house develops mold as a result of something that is covered by your policy—such as a burst pipe—then the cost to remove the mold may be covered. In that case, the burst pipe would be the reason for the claim, not the mold itself. Your agent can clear up any questions you might have about your particular policy.

4. Sewer Backup

Sure, it stinks, but sewer backups aren’t typically covered by standard home insurance; the sewer pipes running from your house to the street are actually your responsibility. The same is true of backups from sump pumps that are overloaded by stormwater runoff. And these backups aren’t covered by flood insurance either. The good news: Most insurers offer optional sewer backup coverage for a small additional cost.

So, what is covered?

Click through the slideshow below to find four types of coverage typically included in standard home insurance policies. And make sure you read your policy, or talk with your agent, to know exactly what’s covered in your situation.

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