Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
Standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for some natural disasters that cause extreme damage and loss of life. Flood and earthquake coverage are not included in a standard policy and must bought separately.
Most homeowners policies cover:
- Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes
- Lightning strikes
- Ice storms, blizzards and extreme cold
- Volcanic eruptions
Natural Disasters Covered by a Homeowners Insurance
Standard homeowners insurance policies typically cover the following natural disasters.
Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Hurricanes and Other Windstorms
A standard home insurance's dwelling coverage will repair damages due to severe rain and windstorms. Additionally, your policy's personal property coverage may pay for your belongings that the storm destroyed.
Your insurer may require you to pay a special deductible if you live in a high-risk area. Some insurance companies exclude wind-related damage in their policies. Most homeowner insurance policies don't cover flood damage arising from a hurricane.
A standard home insurance dwelling coverage will cover damages to your home's structure, and personal property coverage covers your belongings. Some policies may also cover the tear-down and removal of damaged structures on your premises.
Some insurers require residents in high-risk areas, like California, to carry separate wildfire insurance coverage or to pay a disaster deductible. Always review your insurance policy before wildfire season to learn whether your policy covers these damages.
Your homeowners insurance policy may reimburse you if a lightning strike causes a fire or causes a tree to fall and cause damages. However, if the tree falls on an empty part of your premises, your insurance may not reimburse you for tree removal costs. Your policy may also provide additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable after a storm.
Ice Storms, Blizzards and Extreme Cold
Standard homeowners insurance policies will pay for your home's structure or personal belongings when extreme cold or winter-related weather damages them. These issues include roof collapses from heavy snow, issues caused by ice dams and damages caused by burst frozen pipes.
Home insurance doesn't cover flood damage that results from winter storms or melting snow.
Your homeowners insurance covers property damages to your dwelling or home in the event of an explosion (like a natural gas explosion).
Civil Disturbances and Riots
Your coverage may reimburse you for damages caused by civil disturbances or riots.
Standard homeowners policies usually pay for hail damage. In areas that are hail-prone, insurers may charge higher deductibles. Additionally, the insurance company will cover hail-related structural damages, but it may not cover all cosmetic damages.
Homeowners insurance policies cover property losses that result from eruptions if they result from volcanic blasts, shockwaves, ash, dust or lava.
Your homeowners insurance doesn't cover earthquakes, land tremors, landslides, mudflow or other earth movements that result from the volcanic blast. You'll need an earthquake insurance policy for coverage.
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Which Natural Disasters Aren't Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
Your homeowners insurance policy may have exclusions for earthquakes or flooding, especially if you live in an area that's prone to these disasters. Additionally, your policy may limit hail damage coverage if you live in a location where storms occur frequently.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, most standard homeowners policies don't cover damages from floods or mudflows. They recommend that homeowners purchase insurance, especially if they live in a designated flood zone.
The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal program that sells flood insurance. They offer insurance policies through private insurers. You may have to wait up to 30 days before your insurance coverage starts.
Even if you don't live in a flood-prone area, you should still consider buying this coverage since flooding can occur in inland areas too.
Earthquakes, Mudslides and Sinkholes
If you live in an earthquake-prone area, consider buying earthquake insurance and sinkhole insurance coverage. Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies don't cover earthquakes, mudslides and sinkholes. These disasters can significantly damage the structure of a home's foundation, walls, furniture and belongings.
In the Golden State, the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) offers earthquake coverage to residents.
Although standard homeowners insurance policies don't cover earthquake damage, they may cover electrical fires caused by earthquakes.
Homeowners Liability Insurance and Natural Disasters
Your homeowners policy's liability coverage will also cover injuries other people receive on your property due to accidents due to natural disasters. It will also pay for these expenses if you're found negligent.
Liability coverage provides coverage for the injured party's medical expenses and property damage that occur on your premises if you're found negligent.
Natural Disaster Deductibles
Even though wind and hurricanes are covered by standard home insurance policies, you may have a separate deductible if you live in an area that's prone to these natural disasters.
In hurricane-prone areas, homeowners may have to pay a higher homeowners insurance deductible. Homeowners can opt for a higher premium in exchange for a traditional deductible, but in some coastal regions, the percentage deductible is mandatory.
Wind/Hail Insurance Deductible
If you live in an area prone to windstorms or hail storms, insurers may require you to pay a percentage-based deductible similar to a hurricane deductible, which is higher than a standard deductible. Wind/hail deductibles are usually no more than five percent of an insurance policy.
Carriers frequently require these types of wind deductibles in the West (Colorado), Midwest (Ohio) and Tornado Alley (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska).
National Flood Insurance Program Deductible
Sign up for National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance if you live in a region prone to flooding. Deductibles for flood insurance vary by state. Some deductibles are available in dollar amounts, others in percentages.
Earthquake Insurance Deductible
Earthquake deductibles range from two to 20 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute. These earthquake-prone states have a higher-than-average deductible: Washington, Nevada, Utah and California. The minimum deductible amount in most of these states is usually 10 percent of a policy. The California Earthquake Authority has a deductible set at 15 percent of the replacement cost of a home's structure and 10 percent for additional structures (garages, sheds, decks, etcetera).
Buy Coverage for Natural Disasters, Save on Homeowners Insurance
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