Hoboken Insurance Q&A – 8/2009


[Each month, Hoboken411 will publish helpful insurance tips, courtesy of our local State Farm Insurance office.]

Are your front steps covered?

Q: When it comes to homeowners insurance, how is the front sidewalk and stairs leading up to a brownstone covered? What are the most common claims that homeowners insurance covers (and doesn’t cover) pertaining to the front sidewalk and stairs?


State Farm Says:

A: There are two distinct parts to this question:

The sidewalk and the stairs leading to the dwelling. Let us start with the fact that the sidewalk is common property, which means that there might be, shared responsibility by more than one party to adequately maintain and as well the use of this area.

On the other hand, the stairs leading to the brownstone, if they are attached to the dwelling, they are indeed considered part of the dwelling. Therefore, making this strictly a responsibility of the owner.

Now with that said, it is important to know that in both cases the most common claims come from unfortunate accidents, better known as ‘slip and fall’ on the premises. In these cases the coverages that apply are the liability section and medical expenses to others. In cases, where there is a property policy separate from a liability policy, then it is the liability policy that is going to handle the claim.

These claims, can be long and complicated, but as well, in some instances are easily resolved. Primarily, the claim is handled, starting with an investigation and the procedures follow depending on the facts of the case. If in fact the “prudent man rule” was not followed by the property owner. Which means, the sidewalks or stairs were not properly and adequately maintained, then the claimant has a very good case and will most likely be compensated for their damages. On the other hand, if these premises were properly cared for, then there might be a denial of the claim, depending on the circumstances, which could turn into a longer litigation process if necessary.


(Hoboken Insurance Q&A – August 2009, continued…)

The other type of claims arising in these areas, is a property damage claim. In the case of property damage, two things have to be present for the damage(s) to be paid. First, the damage, is as a result of a cover cause (peril) and secondly there must be no exclusions for that type of property. For example, the damage was as a result of an explosion, which in fact is a cover cause (peril), but the damage was to the sidewalk cracking as a result of the explosion. If the policy excludes damage to exterior sidewalks, then the claim is denied. On the same example, the damage is to the stair’s handrails coming off or getting loose as a result of the explosion. In this case since the stairs are considered part of the dwelling, and there are no exclusions, then the coverage applies. Obviously, since it is property damage, it is that part of the policy the one that is going to cover the damages. Also, in the case where there are two policies in place, then it is the property policy the one to handle this type of claims.

In summary, remember to keep your sidewalks and stair in good conditions and free of obstructions and possible hazards. If you have an incident take place, make a police report immediately and contact your insurance agent. Try to gather as many facts as possible of the incident. It is best not make any arrangements with anyone, until you have done all proper notifications and you have been professionally counseled. Lastly, before you place a claim for property damage in these areas, you should speak with an agent to verify if there is coverage before you place the claim.

The above information, is based on a question and is not intended to specifically determined the outcome of any one claim or claims. Each claim is to be handle on the fact of the specific event/incident of the loss. The information presented is general in content and not specific to anyone situation, nor should it be used to determined the outcome of any claim or coverages to be acquired.

Contact Hoboken State Farm Insurance by calling 201-795-0004 or their website at www.hobokensf.com

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I like how you used Scammarano’s house.