(BPT) - Homeowners insurance is a practical investment to help protect you, your family and your property in the event of unforeseen and unexpected losses. Traditionally, it's associated with fire damage, burst or leaking pipes, or stolen property, but occasionally it covers unusual events that make for sensational news stories and viral videos.
Here are four claims homeowners never thought would happen to them.
1. Bear B&B
Bears are notoriously curious and intelligent creatures that also have an acute sense of smell.
People who live in areas with bears for neighbors must not entice them with the aromas of food. Keep doors and windows on ground floors closed and locked while cooking or if you leave the house. A bear can easily get through the screen of an open window or manipulate a lever-like door handle to enter your home and cause significant damage.
"Encountering a bear inside your home would be a very frightening experience," says Christopher O'Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. "Safety should be your first priority, so call your local police or animal control station to have them help you with the situation. You can worry about any potential damages after the animal leaves the residence, because your homeowners policy will most likely cover any damage to your home (though not your personal property), unless of course the bear is a family pet."
2. The sky is falling
China's Tiangong-1 space station plummeted back to Earth and made its re-entry into the atmosphere earlier this year, breaking apart over the southern Pacific Ocean. The odds of debris from the space station hitting you were less than one in 1 trillion, according to the Aerospace Corporation. If it had hit your home, though, homeowners insurance would've covered it.
3. Your house is stolen
Yes, you read that correctly. Your homeowners insurance will cover the entire house, not just the contents inside, if it is stolen.
O'Rourke explains, "We had an insured who was away on vacation and when he returned the foundation of his home was all that remained.
"A house moving company had mixed up the address with another house down the street that was scheduled to be moved. The movers came in, transported the house to another location and thought their job was done - wrong!
"You can only imagine his surprise at the mistake. While homeowners insurance covered the cost of getting things restored back to normal, I would suspect this was one of the strangest situations any insurer has ever encountered," says O'Rourke.
Golf is a leisurely pastime enjoyed by millions in the U.S. It involves strolling across greens and riding in golf carts, so its slow pace may seem low-risk, but it can actually be quite dangerous. According to an article in Golf Digest magazine, nearly 40,000 golfers are admitted to emergency rooms annually after being injured while playing, most by errant golf balls and flying club heads.
Recreational golfers can also cause a lot of damage to personal property. If you live on a golf course, your house has probably been hit many times by errant shots - breaking windows, damaging roofs and leaving divots in exterior walls.
So, who's responsible for these injuries and damage?
"Simply put, the golfer who hit the shot is responsible," says O'Rourke. "There is good news, however, because recreational golfers would be covered by a homeowners, condo owners or renters insurance policy for damage or injuries that result from the wayward shot."
Mercury recommends reviewing your homeowners insurance policy annually with your local insurance agent to ensure that you're adequately covered for any unforeseen losses, both unusual and ordinary.