What Is an Act of God in Home Insurance?
SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More
In insurance terms, an act of God is a force of nature that humans are unable to control like a hurricane or blizzard. While most acts of God are covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy, some of them are often excluded from coverage such as floods and earthquakes.
Keep reading to learn more about the kinds of natural disasters your insurance policies are likely to cover and whether you need additional act of God insurance coverage.
Are Acts of God Covered by Insurance?
Many acts of God are covered by homeowners insurance since the primary function of insurance is to protect you from financial losses due to sudden and unexpected sources of damage. Other types of coverage like car insurance and commercial insurance may also provide coverage for unpredictable natural forces.
Instead, most natural disasters are automatically covered by insurance, while there are individual coverage types you have the option to purchase that can account for the few acts of God insurance doesn’t generally cover.
What Acts of God Are Covered by Home Insurance?
See below for an overview of the natural perils your home and belongings are likely to be insured against. Remember that most policies insure the structure of your home against any peril that isn’t listed as an exclusion but insure your personal property only against perils named in the policy.
Wind and Hail
Homeowners insurance generally covers damage from hail and windstorms such as hurricanes, tornadoes and thunderstorms. Your policy should also cover falling objects such as a tree branch that falls onto your roof or blows through your window during a windstorm.
The exception to this rule is in coastal regions like the Texas Gulf Coast, where insurance companies may exclude coverage for these perils due to the high rate of wind and hail damage in the area. In this case, you would need to buy separate windstorm insurance.
Even if your policy does not exclude windstorm coverage, you may have to pay a separate deductible on wind and hail claims if your region is susceptible to windstorms. Wind and hail deductibles are not set at a flat rate but instead a percentage of your coverage limits, usually between 1% and 5%.
Fire and Lightning
A typical home insurance policy broadly covers fire damage. This includes coverage for lightning strikes, smoke, volcanic eruptions and wildfires. It should even cover fires that wouldn’t be considered acts of God such as kitchen fires and explosions.
If you live somewhere like California where there is an increased risk of wildfires, you may have a harder time finding affordable home insurance. However, you should be able to receive basic fire coverage from the state-instituted Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan.
Snow and Ice
Your homeowners insurance company should also cover blizzards and other types of winter storms. For example, your other structures coverage can pay to repair a shed on your property if its roof caves in due to the weight of ice, sleet or snow. In addition, your insurance likely accounts for any damage that could arise if your home systems freeze due to an extreme cold weather event.
What Acts of God Aren’t Covered?
Most homeowners insurance policies will have an act of God clause that excludes coverage for claims involving floods and ground movement like earthquakes, landslides and mudflows. You will need to purchase separate flood insurance and earthquake insurance to receive coverage for these catastrophes and related perils like tsunamis.
In addition, your insurance company may deny an act of God insurance claim if it determines the damage was a result of poor maintenance. For example, even though home insurance typically covers hail, your insurer may not cover water damage after a hailstorm if it discovers that there were multiple holes in your roof that you failed to fix before the storm.
Finally, many insurance companies will offer limited coverage for older homes, partly because their roofs usually have more wear and tear. As a result, these properties may be denied coverage for several perils including losses caused by the weight of snow and ice on the roof.
What Acts of God Are Covered by Car Insurance?
Acts of God like floods, earthquakes, hailstorms, wildfires and more are all typically covered by comprehensive car insurance. Comprehensive coverage broadly insures your vehicle against most non-collision sources of damage including human actions like theft and vandalism. Unless your policy specifically excludes coverage for acts of God, your comprehensive insurance should cover any kind of natural disaster.
Comprehensive coverage is usually required by your lender if you are financing or leasing your vehicle but it is not required by law. Without this optional coverage type, your insurance company will not cover any damage to your vehicle caused by a force of nature.
What Does an Act of God Mean in Business Insurance?
Commercial property insurance often provides coverage for a similar range of perils to homeowners insurance, meaning your commercial insurance policy may automatically include coverage for acts of God like windstorms, fires and blizzards. However, you may need to purchase commercial flood or earthquake insurance to fully protect your business property.
If a covered natural disaster temporarily prevents you from running your company, business interruption insurance can make up for lost revenue. Alternatively, it could cover any extra costs associated with operating remotely or temporarily moving to a new location.
How To File an Act of God Insurance Claim
After an act of God impacts your home, you should take these steps to file a homeowners insurance claim:
- Get in touch with your home insurance company to report the damage and begin the claims process.
- Use your phone to capture pictures and/or videos of the parts of your home that were damaged.
- If necessary, make emergency repairs to prevent further damage to your home.
- Inform your mortgage lender that you are in the process of filing a claim.
- Gather evidence to back up your claim like photos of the damage and repair estimates from contractors.
- Submit relevant information and documents to your insurance company and keep up with your claim’s progress so you can handle any issues that may come up.
You should note that anytime you need to file an insurance claim due to an act of God, there are likely several other people in your area who will also be filing claims. As a result, you should begin the claims process as soon as possible to make sure your insurance provider can address your claim in a timely manner.