Benefits sign. Hidden homeowner and car insurance benefits.

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There are important — and weird situations — some homeowner and car insurance policies cover.

If you’re looking to cut your bills to free up cash, one of the first things you want to do is avoid any unnecessary spending. And, to paraphrase former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld, there are “known knowns.” Meaning, there are things we know that we know. For example, we know we can cut the grocery spending by switching to generics. And there are “known unknowns,” such as we need to shop around for cheaper cable options.

Then there are the lurking and slightly dangerous “unknown unknowns” – spending we can cut that we don’t even know about. One example of that is the whole host of perks that can be hiding in your homeowner and car insurance. Instead of spending money to fix those problems, you can save by filing an insurance claim, instead.

Hidden homeowner and car insurance benefits in policies

Got a cracked windshield? You might get it fixed for free if your auto insurance includes glass coverage. If a major storm knocked out your power and everything in your freezer went bad, your homeowners may cover the cost of the spoiled food. And if the stash of emergency cash in your sock drawer went up in flames during a fire, your policy could replace your burned-up bucks. These are just a few of the little-known – and frequently overlooked – built-in homeowner and car insurance benefits.

When you think about buying a homeowners or renters policy, you’re typically worried about replacing the house if it catches fire or has the roof torn off during a severe storm. But a comprehensive policy does more than that, including coverage of your contents and personal possessions and protection from lawsuits and liability if an accident happens on your property.

What may be covered in your homeowners insurance policy:

  • Medical costs for injured guests
  • Hotel costs after disaster damages to your home
  • Legal costs if you’re sued
  • Items you’ve borrowed or rented that are in your possession
  • Items stolen from your car or hotel room when you’re off premises
  • Damages your kid causes to your neighbor’s property
  • Even dog bits (Lawsuits involving dogs attacks cost an average of around $30,000.)

Tucked into these provisions are all kinds of additional benefits, just waiting to be discovered like Easter eggs in World of Warcraft. Check your policies, as the coverage limits, conditions and terms can vary widely. Awareness of your homeowner and car insurance benefits can save you thousands one day.

Other, often overlooked savings opportunities

Spoiled food: One great way to cut your family budget is to save on groceries by stocking up on sale items. That can include steaks, chops, and poultry that can fill up your freezer. This kind of approach easily can save enough in one month of family grocery shopping to buy a small standalone freezer to hold even more bargains. But when the power goes out, your cache of cut-rate New York strips and Butterball turkeys can spoil. Most homeowners policies cover up to $500 worth of food gone bad. To file a claim you need to show that an outage occurred. Not just that your old Kelvinator fridge bit the dust.

Gravestones: If you own a burial plot and its accompanying headstone, your homeowners policy may consider it part of your personal property and subject to all the coverage that would apply to your home. That can include damage from a tree falling on a grave marker to a flood that washes out the foundation and cracks a headstone. It also can include vandalism, just as if someone spray-painted your garage. The Insurance Service Organization, an insurance analysis firm, recommends that policies cover up to $5,000 of damage to grave markers in standard forms. The coverage can even extend to gravesites in other states or that you’ve inherited.

Your cash stash: Normally, if you lose money it’s gone forever. But not if the greenbacks are destroyed in an accident at your house or stolen, even if it’s taken by a tradesman you’ve invited onto your property. Most policies consider cash to be personal property. They’ll even cover coins, currency, gift cards, and other cash equivalents up to anywhere between $200 to $1,500. It helps to have some proof that you held the cash, such as a withdrawal or ATM receipt or a police report. The same coverage doesn’t apply to auto policies, however. And it may not cover cash on hand from a home-based business, depending on the policy and details. These are great homeowner insurance benefits to utilize.

Doing windows: Your comprehensive auto coverage may waive the deductible to repair a cracked or chipped windshield. The reason is that auto insurers would rather fix a repairable windshield than bear the cost of having to replace the entire piece of glass, even after your deductible is paid. Take advantage of these car insurance benefits before you pay more.

Cattle stampedes and more: OK, this is unlikely for most of us. But it shows why one of your first steps after suffering unexpected events should be to check your policy or call your insurance agent. Damage to your property if a herd of cows veers off the Chisholm Trail and through your fence can be covered. Believe it or not, damage caused by rioters as well as falling meteorites and space debris can be covered, too. Hell, fires prompted by lava flows from erupting volcanoes are offered in some policies.

It makes no sense at all to shell out money out of your own pocket to deal with these and many other kinds of problems. Especially when you’re already paying for insurance that will handle those costs.

Something not mentioned but will save you money on your actual policy: Good credit. Keep your credit score strong and lower your insurance bill.

You can track daily changes to your credit score with’s 3-credit bureau monitoring tool. It’s free for 30 days.

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Meet the Author

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor


Brian O'Connor is a contributing writer for O'Connor is a journalist, writer and consultant. He's a syndicated personal finance columnist and author of "The $1,000 Challenge."


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