The recent devastation from Hurricane Ian has highlighted the unfortunate fact that many homeowners are not insured against all types of natural disasters. While most home insurance plans cover wind damage from hurricanes and other storms, damage from floods and some other events is not covered by default. Here’s what natural disasters typically are and aren’t covered by standard homeowners insurance policies.
Covered by standard policies:
- Storms: Most policies cover storms, including damage from wind, hail, rain, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes, although limitations or separate deductibles may apply in tornado- or hurricane-prone regions.
- Fires: Whether a fire starts inside or outside your home, it’s typically covered by a standard policy, although exceptions may apply in wildfire-prone areas or if the fire was intentionally set.
- Volcanoes: Standard policies usually cover damage from the ash and lava flow of a volcanic eruption, but damage related to earth movement is usually not covered (see “Earthquakes” below).
- Winter weather: Damage caused by the weight of snow or a burst pipe is also covered under the typical policy, although repairs to pipes themselves may not be covered.
Not covered by standard policies:
- Floods: No type of homeownership policy includes flood coverage, regardless of whether the damage is caused by rain, a hurricane or melting snow.
- Earthquakes: Even in quake-prone California, the typical insurance policy doesn’t cover earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes or other types of land movement.
- Tsunamis: These giant, destructive waves are usually considered their own type of disaster, but for insurance purposes, they’re considered flood damage and aren’t included in standard policies.
Natural disasters have the potential to devastate homes, and being underinsured can be its own disaster. Make sure you fully understand your coverage by reading your policy and speaking with your insurance provider to ensure you have all the protection you expect. If there are any gaps in your coverage, you should be able to purchase additional coverage to cover those exceptions.
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