Will My Home Insurance Policy Cover Lightning and Other Natural Disasters?
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A standard homeowners insurance policy will cover lightning strikes as long as you can prove the damage was caused by lightning. Home insurance also covers natural disasters like windstorms, snowstorms and hail, but generally doesn’t cover floods or earthquakes.
Keep reading to learn how homeowners insurance covers lightning and other kinds of natural disasters.
What Types of Natural Disasters Are Covered by Home Insurance?
Most standard home insurance policies cover natural disasters like lightning, fire, wind, ice, hail and volcanic eruptions, along with damage from explosions and smoke.
Fire and lightning are among the 16 named perils covered by many types of homeowners insurance. Below is an overview of some of the major homeowners coverage types and how they might apply to you after lightning strikes your property.
Covers the physical structure of your home plus attached structures and internal systems
Lightning strikes your roof and sets it on fire
Covers structures on your property that are not directly connected to your house
A lightning bolt causes a tree to fall over and crush part of your fence
Covers your personal belongings
A lightning-induced power surge damages your television and laptop
Covers temporary living costs if your home becomes uninhabitable
Your insurance company reimburses you for hotel stays and restaurant meals after a lightning-induced fire burns your house down
If you file an insurance claim after a lightning strike, an insurance adjuster will be tasked with assessing the damage and determining if it is covered by your policy. Lightning-related damage generally falls into one of three categories.
- Direct strike: A direct strike refers to damage caused when a lightning bolt directly hits your house. This is the easiest damage to prove and receive reimbursement for since it usually results in visible charring or burning.
- Near miss: Also known as a close call, a near miss is the result of lightning striking near your home but not directly hitting it. Near misses generally cause comparatively minor damage, so it may be harder to file an insurance claim for them.
- Ground surge: This is a power surge that happens when lightning strikes somewhere in the surrounding area. Although ground surges are the most common type of lightning-related damage, it can be difficult to prove that lightning was the source rather than a non-covered peril since the damaging lightning strike may not have happened on your property.
Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Other Windstorms
Standard home insurance policies cover damage from tornadoes, hurricanes and other windstorms. Your insurance company may also cover water damage from rain that is blown into your house by high winds.
If you live in a region that is prone to any natural disaster, you will likely have to pay higher home insurance premiums and you may even have to pay a percentage-based deductible rather than a flat amount. For example, homeowners in Tornado Alley generally have to pay between 1% and 5% of their overall policy limits out of pocket before their insurer will give them any money for a windstorm-related insurance claim.
Ice Storms, Blizzards and Extreme Cold
A standard homeowners policy will cover multiple types of damage related to snowstorms and freezing weather. For example, you could be reimbursed after snow builds up on the roof of your shed and causes it to cave in. You may also be covered if standing water in your pipes freezes and then causes the pipes to burst.
Fire is one of the named perils covered by home insurance and you should be covered regardless of whether the fire started inside or outside of your home. However, if you live in a high-risk area, your insurance carrier could list wildfire damage as an exclusion. As a result, you may need to purchase separate wildfire coverage if you live in California or another state that is susceptible to wildfires.
Your homeowners insurance will generally cover hail damage, although you may have to pay a percentage-based disaster deductible if you live somewhere that is particularly prone to hail or blizzards. While your insurance should take care of damages that threaten the structure of your home, you may not be reimbursed for damages that are merely cosmetic such as chipped paint.
Alongside the damage from fire itself, homeowners insurance also covers damage from related causes like explosions and smoke. For example, you would likely be covered if a fire caused your gas stove to explode and shatter nearby windows, or if the smoke it created got into your vents and caused the metal to erode.
Most home insurance policies cover damage related to a volcanic eruption, whether it was caused by flowing lava, volcanic ash or airborne shockwaves. If you are forced to flee your home amid a volcanic eruption, you may also be covered for any theft or vandalism that takes place while you are gone.
Which Natural Disasters Aren’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Standard home insurance will not cover any natural disaster that is expressly excluded by the policy. The two natural disasters that most commonly appear as homeowners insurance exclusions are floods and earthquakes.
In general, homeowners insurance does not cover floods. While your insurance may cover water damage from a source within your home like a leaking appliance, it won’t cover damage from heavy rain, high tides, overflowing rivers or any other external water source. As a result, you may need to purchase separate flood insurance if you live in a coastal town or high-risk flood zone.
Earthquakes and Other Ground Movement
Home insurance also doesn’t cover earthquakes, sinkholes, mudslides or landslides. However, you can often protect yourself against these perils by purchasing extra insurance coverage and, in some states, your insurance company may even be required to offer them. For example, insurance providers in California must offer earthquake insurance, while carriers in Florida and Tennessee must offer sinkhole coverage.
Does Homeowners Liability Insurance Cover Lightning Strikes and Other Natural Disasters?
The personal liability coverage portion of your homeowners insurance may also kick in if lightning or another natural disaster impacts your property. Personal liability coverage takes effect if you or someone in your household is held liable for injuring someone else or damaging their property.
For example, personal liability coverage would pay for a friend’s medical bills if they were struck by lightning on your property. Meanwhile, it might also pay for your neighbor’s house repairs if a windstorm blew a heavy branch from one of your trees through one of their windows (conversely, they could also be covered by their own dwelling coverage rather than your personal liability coverage).
Filing Home Insurance Claims for Lightning Strikes and Other Natural Disasters
After a lightning strike or other natural disaster impacts your home, you should take the following steps to prepare and file a claim with your homeowners insurance company.
- Call 911: Your local fire department can inspect your home for fire risks and other damage, along with providing you with evidence of a lightning strike or other natural disaster that you can use in your claim.
- Notify your insurance company: You’ll need to schedule an appointment with an insurance adjuster who will come and investigate the damage to your property.
- Document losses and damages: You may need to provide photo or video evidence to prove that your property was damaged by a covered peril. For example, your insurance company will cover damage from a lightning-induced power surge, but may not fully cover a power surge caused by your electric company. As a result, it may be beneficial to take pictures of char marks on the exterior of your home after a lightning strike.
- Make emergency repairs: Your insurance company may expect you to make emergency repairs in order to avoid further damage. For example, if a tree branch blows through your window during a thunderstorm, you should cover the window with a tarp to prevent unnecessary rain damage.
- Contact your mortgage lender: If you are still paying off your house, your insurance payment may go through your lender.
- Prepare evidence to present to your adjuster: Along with pictures or videos of the damage, you may want to show your insurance adjuster a written timeline of events and an inventory of the items you lost and their value.
- Save documents and track your claim: Make sure you stay on top of important deadlines for paperwork and keep track of repair receipts and any other documents you may need to ensure your claims process goes smoothly.