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What Is Premises Liability Insurance?

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  • Written By: Jim B.
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2014
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Premises liability insurance is a type of insurance purchased by a homeowner to protect against accidents that might befall other people visiting their home. These accidents are often so-called "slip and fall" accidents because many are the result of mishaps occurring on a person's property due to circumstances such as icy walkways or bad flooring. In cases like these, premises liability insurance protects the homeowner against any lawsuit that might be brought up by the injured party to pay for injuries. The insurance usually covers legal fees and will pay for most damages, unless those damages were deemed to have been caused intentionally by the homeowner.

All homeowners have a legal responsibility for any injuries that might befall those visiting their home. Such injuries are what necessitate premises liability insurance, and those injuries can include falls that result from slippery driveways or sidewalks, poorly lit corridors within the house, floors with gaps or bad footing, a bad step on a staircase, or various other common household hazards. Homeowners are usually held liable if he or she knew about the conditions and did nothing about it, or if he or she should have known about the neglected area.

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Without premises liability insurance, anyone who suffered an injury at the home could be entitled to any assets the homeowner has as recompense for the damages caused by the injury. The insurance not only pays damages but also handles legal representation and court costs if the incident leads to a trial. In cases like this, the insurance company, rather than the homeowner, usually has the authority to dictate the legal proceedings and can decide whether to settle the case.

Most standard insurance policies contain premises liability insurance. If the house is being mortgaged, the bank or mortgage-holder will often require such insurance to protect its assets. There is usually no deductible for such a policy, which means that the insurance company will start paying damages immediately when necessary without any original payment by the homeowner. The homeowner would be responsible for any damages not covered by the policy or whatever damages exceed the policy limits.

There are certain circumstances when premises liability insurance does not cover a homeowner from a visitor's injury. Premises coverage does not usually include injuries that were intentionally caused by the homeowner. For example, if a homeowner got into a fight with a visitor in the home and inflicted injuries, that would not fall under the umbrella of the insurance policy. Additionally, if a homeowner purposely set up booby traps or other homemade devices with the intent to catch trespassers, he or she would not be covered if the traps accidentally injured someone they weren't intended to harm.

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Markerrag
Post 2

@Vincenzo -- a good question and one that is hard to answer because tort law would put anyone injured by that trap into the same category. It is pretty clear in the United States that the courts frown on devices designed to protect property by injuring someone. The view is easy enough to understand -- people are more important than property in the eyes of the law, so homeowners who set up devices to injure people will likely have to pay for their injuries whether or not the injured party was out to commit a criminal act.

Since that is the case, would a premises liability policy kick in if anyone was injured by that homemade trap? It seems the answer might be "no," but are there any exceptions?

Vincenzo
Post 1

The last part of this that suggests premises liability insurance won't cover the situation where a trap injures someone that wasn't supposed to fall into it raises a question. Specifically, what happens if that trespasser trap injures someone for whom the trap was designed? Does premises liability insurance cover that person's injuries?

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