homeowners insurance

Q: My in-laws moved out last summer to an assisted living facility. After they were gone, we renovated their two-bedroom apartment/in-law suite. Sometimes we rent it out on Airbnb since we live in a resort area. However, this past spring we let my nephew and some friends come down for spring break. Long story short, one night he had too much to drink, came back to the house, slipped and fell on the stairs – breaking his wrist and collar bone. He was still covered under his parents’ insurance, but my brother wants me to file a claim with my homeowner’s insurance company to cover the out of pocket medical expenses that it generated. We have never had an accident on this property in the 15 years we’ve owned it. I don’t know what to do. Can you please tell me who is expected to pay?

A: Ouch. That is not a situation that improves family harmony. Since there are insurance companies that will cancel your policy for just a single claim or send your premiums sky high. Homeowners are expected to maintain the premises in a safe condition for occupants and guests, but at the same time guests are expected not to endanger themselves. You have a number of likely scenarios that may or may not happen.

I can’t offer legal advice since we’re an insurance firm, not a law firm, but one of my first pieces of advice is to get an attorney. Your insurance can only kick in if there was some negligence on your part that exposed your guest to the risk of accident, the simple act of falling down and injuring oneself does not automatically mean that the homeowner was at fault. Unless there was another factor – a loose step, no handrail – that contributed to the accident, that claim is not going to pay out.

If you have any further questions, please call or come by our office to speak with an independent insurance agent. We can help you with any coverage issues or questions that you might have. It sounds like you have a lot going on at your home. Let us have a look at your homeowner’s policy, and explain what it does and doesn’t do. We can then work on crafting a great insurance solution that covers everything you need covered at a price that won’t bust the piggy bank.