Is ceiling damage caused by neighbor covered under homeowner's insurance?

by Liz
(Spring, Texas)

My house mortgage is now carried in an estate, since my sister died last year. As beneficiary & roommate for years, I continue to live in the home & pay all expenses now.

An adult neighbor was bringing down some smaller boxes of household items from the attic. They were stored on certain areas of attic flooring in place for that purpose, when he slightly lost balance and stumbled. His footing went between the attic floor beams and tore a large hole in the lower ceiling of the bedroom below. Boxes of clothes, books, etc. then tumbled through the hole to the floor below.

The neighbor was fine and admitted to being clumsy. Being on a very modest and fixed retirement income with very, very small credit available and no family, I'm facing an extreme 'repair' challenge, and wonder about filing a homeowners insurance claim.

I certainly cannot possibly afford incurring any rate increase, since I now at age 74 must permanently pay ALL expenses alone and have no savings, and the neighbor is unable to help or contribute. I also have a few home foundation issues apparent (wall cracks), and do not need an adjuster's eye detecting any possible further complications to my situation.

My home is simple and very modest, but it is very truly my happy castle and sanctuary as I'm also blessed with the good health to enjoy it, challenges and all. I have a big hole to fix and worry how.

Is my homeowner's insurance an answer or just a bigger problem? What options do I have? Thank you very much for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Is ceiling damage caused by neighbor covered under homeowner's insurance?":

Liz (Spring, Texas):

Unless you, or your late sister filed previous homeowner's claims, it is unlikely filing a claim now will result in a rate increase in your premiums. Moreover, inasmuch as the mortgage is being paid from your late sister's assets, even if the premiums were to rise, you would not be personally liable for such an increase.

The next consideration is whether or not the neighbor decides to file an injury claim. From the facts you present it doesn't appear your neighbor sustained any injuries.

Unfortunately, in this day and age there is no guarantee your neighbor might suddenly decide his neck, back or other parts of his body were injured. Not to worry. Once again, that is what homeowners insurance is for.

To relieve your anxiety, you would be best served by contacting the homeowners insurance company and reporting the accident. Additionally, contact the trustee or executor of the estate and report the incident to her as well. Let them handle it. You'll be glad you did.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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