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Author Topic: Ham Towers and Homeowners Insurance  (Read 2364 times)
AD6KA
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Posts: 2238




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« on: May 17, 2011, 07:44:28 PM »

I'm asking this question just out of general curiosity, not because
I am planning on putting up a tower real soon.

Anyway.. What's the procedure when putting up a tower, with regard
to your homeowners insurance? (I realize it will vary with the carrier
and your type of policy, but am interested in your experiences).
Does it require an extra rider on the policy?
Or do you need to inform your insurance company at all?
I would think you would if you'd want them to cover it!
(If your tower is "legal") 

And what about the permit issue? Over on the "Antenna Restrictions
Forum" you will read "Simple! NEVER ask for a permit!".
(Actually, those guys remind me of the folks who say that they
don't have to pay taxes because there's nothing in the Constitution
saying they do....and we know what happens to them eventually.)  Grin

If you did put up a tower without the proper paperwork, and there
was an accident
(tower came down, or part of a tower, antenna, or
even a tool fell, and damaged you or your neighbor's property, or God forbid injured someone)
could or would the insurance carrier deny liability claims due to the
fact that the tower was put up illegally?


And YES, I KNOW that properly erected, structurally sound towers "do not come down".
But there are also people out there with bad judgement, lack of proper
information, lack or proper skills, common sense. and sobriety who DO put
up towers and antenna supports that are accidents waiting to happen.
We've met the type:

"Gee Vern, that base hole LOOKS deep enough to me, and do you really
NEED to fuss with rebar? Why waste money on a cement guy and a pour?
Heck, we'll just get the guys over here with their wheelbarrows and some sacks
of Quikrete and she'll setup in no time. So what if the tower's rusty? I'll just get
my grinder and smooth it off good as new!. Shoot, you don't really need all them
guys, they're overrated for this tower.


So does it matter to the insurance company if you have a permit,
variance, or whatever is require in your locale?
73, Ken  AD6KA
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K5LXP
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Posts: 4536


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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2011, 06:50:55 AM »

It absolutely matters if it's a "legal" tower.  I was told specifically by my insurance company, State Farm, if my tower wasn't properly permitted they could revoke the coverage for my home.  With all the ducks in a row it's covered as an accessory structure at no additional premium.  Anything that would "happen" like say an antenna blowing off of it and damaging neighbors' property would likely be a simple liability claim.  So the hazard I see in not going through the process (whatever is required in your city/town code) is not only can they deny an incident related to the tower, but you also put your homeowner's coverage at risk when it's discovered.  If you think permitting is a hassle, try dealing with an insurance revocation and the mortgage lender imposing their "default" coverage.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20666




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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2011, 08:37:13 AM »

I agree.  Since my main tower is not attached to the house, it normally would not be covered by my HO insurance unless I declared it separately, which I did.

The insurance company (State Farm, in my case) needed to see the permit for the tower, so I sent them a copy of that.  They also wanted to know how I came up with a value for it, so I sent them "replacement value" price lists, which they recommended I modify as necessary to keep up with inflation if "replacement value" changes much.

In some places, you really do not need a permit for a tower.  In such a case, I'd have good photographs, blueprints and other documents available for review.

Unless you're planning to have a tower fall down, which isn't a good plan, I wouldn't go too overboard on this.  If a tower falls and hurts somebody (really darned unlikely), I don't see how that's any different from a fence falling, a chimney toppling over, or your car falling off its jack stands and crushing somebody's foot -- or a hundred other things than might happen but weren't designed to.

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AD6KA
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Posts: 2238




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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2011, 08:38:10 AM »

Thanks Mark, I was %99 sure what you said was so when I posted that question, I just wanted confirmation from folks who have "been there, done that". I just can't believe what some people will post. (i.e. "Never ask for a permit!").
Are they living in the real world?
Quote
If you think permitting is a hassle, try dealing with an insurance revocation and the mortgage lender imposing their "default" coverage.
No thanks! Gives me the willies just thinking about it! We too have State Farm (umbrella coverage), and while pricey, they have been very, very good to us. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake their adjuster neither argued about, devalued, nor quibbled over any damages we claimed, over $93k. Quick to pay as well.  Getting one particular uninsured neighbor to pay his half to replace the shared cinder block wall with the same was another story....but we eventually prevailed.
Thanks Mark. 73, Ken  AD6KA

Edit: Thanks for the info too, Steve, we doubled on that post.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 08:39:46 AM by AD6KA » Logged
N2EY
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Posts: 3926




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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2011, 08:54:52 AM »

Unless you're planning to have a tower fall down, which isn't a good plan, I wouldn't go too overboard on this.  If a tower falls and hurts somebody (really darned unlikely), I don't see how that's any different from a fence falling, a chimney toppling over, or your car falling off its jack stands and crushing somebody's foot -- or a hundred other things than might happen but weren't designed to.

IANAL, nor an insurance guy, but I think it comes under negligence. And there's a big difference between something that damages your own property or injures you, and something that damages somebody else's or hurts someone else.

The big issue is whether you exercised reasonable care and precautions. If you know a fence is likely to fall, or a chimney to tumble, and you do nothing, you could be held negligent. Same if you put, say, a 3 ton truck on jack stands rated for 1 ton.

My personal experience with negligence in a case like this:

At my old house on RadioTelegraph Hill, there was a huge Norway maple tree in the side yard - 80 feet tall at least. One spring I noticed that the new leaves were few and far between, so I called an arborist.

The arborist said the tree was dying, and that its trunk was hollow. Said that I should take it down before it fell down. Folks I talked to (including lawyers and insurance people) said that if I didn't take it down and it fell on somebody or something, I'd be personally liable because I knew it was a sick tree and had been warned of the danger in no uncertain terms. And my homeowner's insurance might not cover damage if the insurance folks knew all the facts.

So I got the tree cut down - and the trunk was indeed hollow. Took me *years* to burn all that wood in the fireplace.

If somebody puts up a tower without proper design, permits and inspection when such things are clearly required by law, I suspect they'd be in the same boat if something bad happened.

73 de Jim, N2EY


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W4VR
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2011, 09:01:59 AM »

Generally, if it's attached to the house it will be covered under the dwelling; if it's separate from the house it will be covered by "other structures or building".  Just make sure you tell the insurance company what you are putting up and how much you spent on it.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2011, 09:12:05 AM »

If a permit is required by your local governing body, then you must obtain one.  If you don't need one then you won't get one.  For sure this is a legal issue and your insurance will cover any accessory structure that is erected legally.
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N4UFO
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Posts: 270




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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2011, 08:24:57 PM »

My company told me, regardless of extra coverage on the tower or not, If THEY DETERMINE (mind, you not if they can PROVE, just if they determine) that the tower was not installed "correctly" they would not only deny coverage on the tower, but any damage to the house and any liability resulting elsewhere. In other words, I would have to legally prove that I DID install it correctly; paperwork from a hired installer, permits, inspections, etc.

I have my beam on a ten foot tripod in the back yard...  Grin
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K1CJS
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Posts: 6061




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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2011, 06:38:09 AM »

If you do things 'by the book', cross the t's and dot the i's, you're usually pretty safe.  Insurance companies, on the other hand always have that 'determination' clause in their insurance policies.  If you can prove that the tower install was done properly by having a professional engineer sign off on the installation, and get all the necessary permits to put it up, then your insurance company will have to pay--eventually--even if you have to take them to court to get them to.  It's no secret that insurance companies are just like any other business.  They look to maximize their profits and cut their losses.

Of course, your policy premiums may go up, or you may have to get another insurance company after if you win your claim.
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