It’s summer, and it’s hot. To a lot of us living in the at times unforgiving humidity that is the greater Ohio River Valley, air conditioning can be a godsend. But when it doesn’t work, what do you do? Is a faulty air conditioner covered by your insurance? Homeowners insurance only covers damage done to an air-conditioning unit as a result of a “covered peril” listed in your homeowners policy. Depending on the type, an AC unit is part of the structure of your home or personal property, so you will be able to file a claim for damage from specific causes, per your policy.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover AC Units?
Home insurance covers AC units and heat pumps to the same extent the rest of your home is covered. Damage caused by fires, falling trees, vandalism, lightning strikes and sometimes flooding are all covered in standard homeowners policies. On the other hand, normal wear and tear or accidental damage is not. So if your AC simply breaks after 10 years of use, then you won’t be reimbursed for repair or replacement. This is true across most homeowners insurance companies, including State Farm, Progressive, Allstate, and Farmers.
Fire and Lightning Damage
In the event fire destroys your air conditioner, your homeowners insurance policy will cover the repairs or replacement. Typically, if lightning strikes your AC unit—damaging its electrical components—your home insurance policy will pay to replace it.
Falling Trees and Vandalism
Should your air-conditioning unit be shattered by a falling tree or branch, you are protected because policies typically cover damage caused by trees. If your AC unit or heat pump is vandalized, you are also protected since home insurance typically covers destruction from vandalism. You should also file a police report to document the crime and the damage.
If you are ever in doubt about the specifics of your coverage, then call your agent or insurance company for details, as policies may differ.
When Isn’t Your AC Covered by a Homeowners Insurance Policy?
Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover AC malfunctions caused by lack of maintenance, general wear and tear, or accidents. An air conditioner that fails after 10 years of use or is dented by an errant baseball during a backyard game of catch won’t be covered by your home insurance. You’ll be solely responsible for repairing or replacing the unit.
Be on the lookout for water damage, too. While air-conditioning units generally aren’t very susceptible to water damage themselves, they produce water as part of their normal operation. If that water leaks into your home and causes flooding, you won’t be covered because it would be considered a maintenance issue. Continually check your AC unit to make sure it’s draining properly.
Homeowners insurance companies also treat central AC and window AC units differently. Generally, a central AC unit will be considered part of your home’s structure, while a window unit is covered as “personal property” rather than as part of the structure of the home. As a result, the scope of damage covered for window units is generally narrower.
A typical homeowners insurance policy will cover a central AC unit under “open perils.” That means the damage is covered unless the cause, such as war and flood damage, is specifically excluded. Meanwhile, window units are only covered under “named perils,” which are specifically described in the terms of your policy. There aren’t many situations where a central AC would be covered and a window unit wouldn’t, but you should check the specifics of your policy to be sure.
Cover the Cost of Repair With a Home Warranty
To help defray repair costs of your air conditioner and other appliances, consider getting a home warranty. Home warranties, also called home repair insurance, cover the cost to repair your home’s systems and appliances, including your air conditioner, for a set fee. Just be sure you understand the policy’s terms before you sign up.
How Do You File a Homeowners Insurance Claim to Fix Your Air Conditioner?
If your AC unit sustains harm from a covered event, consider whether filing a claim will cost more in the long run. First, get an estimate of the cost to repair the unit, and weigh that against your homeowners policy deductible. If the cost to repair or replace your AC unit is less than or only slightly higher than your policy’s deductible, you’re better off paying out of pocket. Filing a claim could raise the premiums you pay for homeowners insurance.
If you decide to file a homeowners insurance claim, take pictures of visible damage to your AC unit and write down its model and serial number. If vandalism was the cause of the damage, then file a police report and request a copy. Next, call your agent or insurer to begin the claims process. After asking how your AC unit was damaged, your insurance company will check to make sure the damage is covered by your specific policy. An adjuster will visit your home to survey the AC unit and estimate how much money your insurer will provide to replace or repair the unit. You should meet with the adjuster when they arrive to be sure nothing is overlooked or missed during the evaluation.
The adjuster will then quote the cost of repairs or replacement. If your policy covers the replacement cost value, then you’ll receive an amount equal to the value of the unit when it was first purchased—including inflation. If your policy covers the actual cash value, then you will receive an amount equal to the cost of the AC unit at the time of damage. That means if the value of the unit has depreciated, you would receive the depreciated amount. Once the claim is approved, the insurer will provide you with a portion—usually half—of the repair or replacement cost, and it will pay out the remainder once the work has been finished.
This article was quoted and adapted from the original here.