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Question and Answer Column from
Georgia Insurance and Fire Commissioner John Oxendine

Q: What if someone breaks into my car and steals gifts while the car is parked at the mall?
A: Standard homeowners and renter’s insurance policies provide coverage for this peril, subject to the policy deductible and coverage limits.  Some automobile policies also provide coverage.  If this happens to you, talk with your insurance agent or company to find out under which policy you should file your claim.
Q: What happens if a coworker, a guest at my holiday party, slips and falls on my icy driveway?
A: Standard homeowners insurance policies provide limited medical payments coverage if your guest seeks medical attention.  If the coworker sues you for additional damages, your homeowners policy should provide liability coverage.  Check with your insurance agent or company to be sure you have adequate liability limits.
Q: What if an ice or snow storm causes a tree to fall through the front window of my house?  
A: Standard homeowners policies generally provide coverage for damage to the home — as well as the cost to remove the tree (generally up to $1,000) — if the tree fell due to the weight of ice or snow, minus your deductible.  Check your policy to find out what limit of coverage you have.  However, your homeowners policy will not help you purchase a new tree.
Q: What if my presents are stolen from under the Christmas tree?  
A: Standard homeowners policies provide coverage subject to the deductible and special sublimits for certain goods, such as electronics and jewelry.  For example, if the wrapped package was a $300 gift card to an electronics store, there might be only $200 coverage; if the package contained $2,000 worth of jewelry or furs, there might be $1,500 coverage; and if the package contained a silver-plated tea set, there might be $2,500 coverage.  Standard condominium and renter’s insurance policies provide similar coverage.  Check your policy for specific sublimits.
Q: What if someone steals the holiday decorations in my front yard?
A: Under a typical homeowners policy, decorations are generally covered, subject to your policy deductible and coverage limits.  These items would also generally be covered if you have a condominium or renter’s insurance policy.  
Q: What if holiday candles cause a house fire?  
A: Under a homeowners policy, your home and belongings will be covered if they are destroyed by a fire, subject to your deductible and policy limits.  Standard policies typically provide additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a fire or other disaster.
Send your insurance questions to:
Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine
716 West Tower
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Atlanta, Georgia  30334
Or call 404-656-2070 (toll free at 1-800-656-2298), from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, for assistance with an insurance question.  
Website www.gainsurance.org

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