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Home Owners Insurance and Grave Markers

You Just Might Be Covered

Consumers commonly wonder when shopping for grave markers what they should do if the markers become damaged eventually. That question has a variety of answers, but one is sometimes surprising: today’s home owners insurance policies commonly cover damage to grave markers, even those installed in cemeteries many miles away.

In 2000, the Insurance Service Organization (the private firm that analyzes risks and makes recommendations for trends in the insurance industry) issued a report recommending a number of changes in the standard Home Owner’s policy in America. One of those changes was the inclusion of coverage of up to $5,000 for damage to grave markers.

It should be noted that, the ISO’s recommendations are never binding, and you should check your own insurance policy before assuming that your grave marker is (or will be) covered. It is also true that, even though the ISO’s recommendation came about in 2000, some policies written before 2000 also did cover grave markers.

Consumers often find this news about grave marker coverage a welcome surprise, but some find out about it too late – after a cemetery representative has mentioned a concern over vandalism and other types of damage to encourage them to buy a headstone at a higher price than they had too. Most cemetery sales people are reputable and honest, but, occasionally, one will purposely mislead a customer to believe that repair costs will come directly from the customer’s pocketbook if a headstone becomes damaged by, say, vandalism. This is likely not the case, of course, especially with the new trend in home owners policies.

In general, when you notice damage to a headstone, you should first call it to the attention of your cemetery. Most damage to headstones is caused, inadvertently, by the cemetery’s own landscaping equipment and is, accordingly, repair under the cemetery’s standard “perpetual care” fund. If the cemetery denies that it was at fault in the damage, then you should contact the headstone’s manufacturer. Most grave markers today are guaranteed for a lifetime against fading, rusting, and other similar defects caused by the Earth’s elements.

If both the cemetery and the manufacturer deny responsibility for your grave marker’s damage (this most often happens in the case of vandalism), then a claim with your home owner’s insurance company will usually yield good results. (It should be noted that the ISO’s recommendation that grave markers be included in home owners insurance also included that the policy premiums not increase as a result. So, the chances are quite good that your policy includes the coverage, but at no additional cost to you.)

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