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Does homeowners insurance cover losses that occur outside my home?

The only way to find out the answer to this question is to check your policy. Homeowners policies regularly provide protection for off-premise destruction or theft, which covers your possessions while they are outside your home. For example, if your luggage were stolen while you're on vacation, a homeowners policy containing off-premise protection would cover the loss. This type of protection can also protect your kids' stereo equipment and other possessions when they go off to college, but only if they live in a dormitory. After a child moves to an off-campus apartment, he or she will typically need to purchase a separate renters insurance policy to cover his or her personal property.

If your homeowners policy does not contain off-premise protection as part of its standard coverage, you may be able to purchase this coverage for an additional charge.

Check the liability portion of your policy to determine your level of coverage for accidents that occur outside your home. Homeowners policies typically cover accidents that occur on your property (e.g., the mailman slips on your sidewalk, or a neighbor is injured in your backyard). Many policies will even cover you for accidents that occur away from your property. For example, if you run a shopping cart over someone's foot at the grocery store, many policies will cover the medical bills. But again, the best way to know whether you're covered is to carefully read your homeowners insurance policy. You can also call your insurance agent or the insurance company and review your policy with them.