Most homeowners and renters rely on an insurance agent to procure the proper insurance policy for them. But how much do you really know about your policy? Also, how much does homeowner’s insurance really cover?

Most policies contain both coverage for liability and medical payments, also known as “med pay”, but what do each of these terms mean?

Liability coverage is there to protect you if you are found to be legally “at-fault” for causing someone’s injuries as a result of an event that is covered by the policy. Legally “at-fault” means that you were negligent. Negligence is defined in Minnesota as the “failure to exercise reasonable care” for the safety of another. The injury doesn’t necessarily have to occur on your property, so long as it is not excluded by the policy. For example, if you accidentally hit someone with your ball on the golf course, in many cases, that event would probably be covered under your homeowner or renter’s policy.

There is no coverage however, for any injuries that are intentionally caused by the homeowner, and this distinction can be important. Continuing with the golf example, if you are swinging your golf club and you accidently hit someone who you did not see standing behind you, there will probably be coverage. If however, you hit someone intentionally with your club, there would not be coverage. Same basic action, with the same basic injury, but one action is covered and one isn’t.

If a negligence claim is brought against the homeowner or renter, their insurance company will hire an attorney to defend them, and pay any settlement or verdict up to the limits of the liability coverage. Most typical homeowner and renter’s policies carry at least $100,000 in liability coverage. That means you are personally liable for any damages that exceed the policy limits. That is why we recommend that people carry an excess or umbrella policy.

Although liability coverage can be used to pay for the medical expenses of the injured person, the policyholder must be found to be negligent. By contrast however, med-pay coverage is there to pay for any medical expenses of a person injured on your property, even if you were not negligent (i.e., legally at-fault). Most typical policies however, only provide for $1,000, $3,000 or $5,000 in med-pay coverage.   That means if someone falls on your property, and you were not negligent, there would still be a small amount of coverage to pay for his or her medical expenses.


If you have any questions about insurance coverage for an injury, or any other personal injury matter, call the attorneys at NELSON PERSONAL INJURY, LLC, or visit us on the web at As always, all consultations are free.