It is common for neighbors to disagree. For example, one person might think that their outdoor dog barking at people passing by is an asset for keeping them safer from intruders. However, a neighbor who enjoys peace and quiet would think the dog is a nuisance. Another neighbor might enjoy listening to his or her music at a loud volume, but others who live in the neighborhood will likely find it annoying. Some situations might not be about noise. People who live in neighborhoods with a uniform appearance might hassle a new homeowner who decides to paint his or her house a clashing color. Whether the source of the problem is noise or something else, disagreements between neighbors can escalate into lawsuits. Before this happens, it is important to know what types of provisions a Homeowners policy provides for legal issues.
Many people think that a Homeowners insurance policy covers most types of lawsuits filed against them. For this reason, people are usually not as careful as they should be about preventing them. For example, consider a new homeowner who moves into a subdivision, replaces the existing fence with higher boards and paints them contrasting colors. If the subdivision has rules about the permissible colors and acceptable maximum height of fences, they will try to get the new homeowner to comply. Homeowners who refuse might find themselves facing a lawsuit for violating the subdivision’s code. The courts will likely favor the subdivision’s rules, and a Homeowners policy will not provide coverage for the legal battle. Therefore, it is important to understand exactly what legal issues are covered under the policy.
Loud noises, eyesores and changes are all issues that do not physically harm another person. Although they might be annoying, they are not issues that would be covered by a Homeowners policy if they escalate into a lawsuit. Always remember that a Homeowners policy offers protection for two types of liabilities: Property damage and bodily injury. If the family dog bites someone on the property, a guest falls off a broken step, or one of the kids breaks a visitor’s car window, a Homeowners policy covers such issues.
Since coverage is limited to two types of physical damage, it is important to work as hard as possible to settle disputes with neighbors. For example, if neighbors complain about a barking dog, it might be best to enroll the dog in training or purchase a no-bark citronella collar. Trim overgrown shrubs or trees that neighbors complain about. Many people get angry and frustrated when a neighbor makes accusations or complains. Anger is usually what causes people to be stubborn and refuse to compromise. Always listen to what neighbors have to say, and try to understand the situation from their perspective. Use common sense to arrive at a solution that is favorable to both parties. However, the best way to avoid anger and confrontation is to fix possible nuisances before neighbors complain. For additional information about avoiding problems and lawsuits with neighbors, discuss the issues with one of our agents.