House vs. Household | Understand Your Home Insurance Policy

In our day to day conversations, we don’t really think about the difference between “house” and “household.” But in insurance, there’s a bigger distinction than you think. Insurance can already be scary and confusing enough with all its different lingos and terms – now even the words you thought you knew could affect your policy too? Don’t panic; we can break down the difference for you right now.

The cause for this debate often stems from a 2010 court case, Ferro v. Weiner, where a young man drowned at a vacation home. Insurers argued in court over whether or not the sole owner of the home’s insurance plan included her children as well – essentially whether or not they were part of her household too.


The Court also held that the word “household” in the context of a homeowners policy refers to a community, most readily understood by analogy to a family unit:

A household is constituted not only by its members’ patterns of living with each other, but also by their settled intentions. Accordingly, courts have found that a person can maintain membership in a household despite lengthy absences from a common residence, provided there is continued self-identification as a member of the household, with a settled intention to return to the common residence. For example, university students do not necessarily cease to be members of their parents’ household when they move away for the academic year, provided they continue to view the parental home as home base and have an intention to return: Canadian Universities’. Similarly, a parent who is absent from the family home for extended periods because of the requirements of work does not therefore cease to be a member of the household during those absences as long as the parent intends to return…”

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Specifically in the situation of the case above, the court could not find that the owner of the home and her children “had a common life with the intimacy, unity, and permanence required to constitute a household” because they had lives and homes centered outside of the vacation home.

In situations like the court case, it’s important to fully understand what and who is covered in your home insurance policy. At Foxquilt, we are more than your insurance broker and you are more than just a customer to us. We care so we are always happy to answer your questions and guide you through your policy.

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