Do I Need Excess Liability Coverage? Don’t End Up Like Mary and John!


 Do I Need Excess Liability Coverage? Don’t End Up Like Mary and John!

Mary and John are newlyweds who bought a home in the suburbs. They live next to a golf course and they love that their new home has enough land to grow their garden. To their dismay, they find out that the other homeowners on the golf course have joined together with an association which controls almost all of the rules for how one can use and enjoy its property.

While there are some rights reserved for people living on-site at Mary and John’s house, there is not much recourse when it comes to what happens off-site, such as along an irrigation ditch that crosses through all property lines.

The association decides to place a restrictive covenant along the ditch that places severe restrictions on what the homeowners can enjoy along the ditch. The agreement was put in place to prevent any possible harm that could come from activities which might pollute the water in the ditch. Mary and John, however, feel that this rule is too restrictive and they want to plant flowers in their own garden as well as plant fruit trees and berries in various locations around their home, including near their fence line where others would have access to them.

After all, Mary points out, “We do not live over the ditch and we are not using it to water our garden or wash our vehicles. It is not like we are using the water from the ditch.”

One day, things get out of hand. The neighbor on one side of Mary and John plants a rose bush in his garden that is in full bloom this time of year. Mary walks out to tend her garden and is hit with pollen from the rose bush which causes an allergic reaction. Mary wakes up several days later to find an awful rash which causes her to lose her job.

Mary then gets a phone call from the doctor’s office informing her that she is suffering from an allergic reaction and she will need to seek out emergency care. After several hours of treatment, Mary receives a bill for almost $2,000 which includes a charge for the doctor’s office visit, which was a result of the allergic reaction. The bill also includes authorities fees and an interest rate charge at 18%.

This experience motivates Mary to review her homeowners insurance policy which tells her that there are limitations on how much she can use her property for collateral damage. Mary, however is now a wife and mother of two little girls. Her first thought is that she does not have the money to pay the bill, but her next concern is that the debt will be a burden for her husband John who is the breadwinner of their family.

Mary then gets a call from John in tears: “I had no idea how much this would cost. I have been using some of our personal savings to cover these bills, but it is just not enough. I am afraid that we could lose our house if we cannot make this payment and I have been thinking about getting another job to help us out.”

Mary then gets a call from her parents who live very close by. Her father wants to help, but even though he is retired, he cannot come up with the money to settle the debt.

Mary then receives a letter from the homeowners association informing her that if she does not make a payment of $2,000 by the end of the month, they will take action against her and her family in court. Mary now finds out that she can never go back to using this particular ditch because it is apparently out of bounds for others and she will only be able to use it for herself.

Mary and John are now desperate for help. They believe the other homeowners on the golf course are doing everything in their power to make sure that they cannot enjoy their property and do everything in their power to avoid paying any of these bills. This causes them to look around at other options for obtaining coverage.

Mary finds out that this is a common problem among home owners and they may even find themselves without any coverage at all if they live in an area where there is a lot of radiation spewing from local factories or nuclear power plants.

Mary and John are shocked to find out that they will still have severe issues with their insurance policies even after they have paid for protection that is supposedly meant to cover incidents like this. Mary takes the time at this point to review her homeowners policy and she discovers that there is a limit on the amount of coverage she can obtain if she wants to be protected in every way possible.

Mary then goes online to look for help and she finds an agent who tells her that there has been a lot of talk about getting homeowners more protection when it comes to these situations, but it seems like nothing has changed in recent years. Mary feels trapped and does not know what else to do.

She then gets a call from her husband John: “I was just told by our Attorney that even though we have paid the bills for these services, she is going to try and get us to serve a Summons on us.”

John continues with his story: “It seems that when you live in a home and pay your monthly premium, you still have to go through the process of filing a lawsuit. It has always been this way in my opinion and I had never thought about why we have to do this. It just seems like we have no rights and I do not think that this is right.”

All Mary can say is, “I do not know if anything will ever change and it does not seem like there is much that you can do about it.”

The homeowners then get another call from the Attorney who informs them that the Summons has been served to Mary and John. They are now bound by law to participate in this lawsuit as Mary must produce all of the documents and information relating to damages for which she has allegedly caused within 60 days of receiving notice from the court in order for them to be able to case dismiss the litigation against her.


The harsh reality of this whole situation is that home owners should have to pay for every time something goes wrong with the property they own. Homeowners cannot be expected to keep up with all of the expenses incurred because of damages that they may not have caused.

Although it is very obvious that these homeowners were unaware of their responsibility in this situation, it does not make it any less fair or reasonable to expect them to pay for the damages caused by them. It is obvious however, that no one anticipated Mary and John’s situation when they signed up for these policies.

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