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Natural Disasters and Homeowners Insurance. What's covered?

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It's difficult to think about losing your home due to a natural disaster. But, it's important to take time now to understand just what your homeowners insurance policy covers and what it doesn't. You can add additional coverages as necessary or, at the very least, know now what you might be in for.

There's a lot of confusion when it comes to natural disasters and your homeowners insurance. And, it's no wonder. With over a dozen named perils and a list of exclusions, it's easy to get confused.

Basic homeowners policy

Your basic homeowners insurance policy covers you for a variety of natural disasters and unexpected occurrences. These are usually called named perils and include:

  • Fire or lightning
  • Windstorm or hail
  • Explosion
  • Riot
  • Damage caused by an airplane
  • Damage caused by a vehicle
  • Smoke
  • Vandalism and malicious mischief
  • Theft
  • Damage caused by a falling object
  • Weight of ice, snow or sleet
  • Accidental overflow of water or steam or bulging, cracking or tearing from an automatic fire sprinkler system, air conditioning system, heating system or appliance
  • Freezing of air conditioning, heating, plumbing, appliance or automatic fire sprinkler system
  • Accidental damage from artificially generated power surge

Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It is. But, there are some important exclusions and caveats.

What's not covered

There are some important and costly disasters that are excluded from your basic homeowners insurance policy. Happily, in most cases, you can purchase additional coverage to make sure you're protected.

  • Earthquake - Earthquakes can be devastating and unless you have a special endorsement or policy just for earthquakes, you aren't covered.
  • Other earth movement - Earthquakes aren't the only way the earth moves. Other earth movements including sink holes and landslides are not covered by a basic policy.
  • Floods - Floods and mudflow are not covered by your basic policy. Flood insurance can be purchased, but only from the government run National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Other water damage - This is an area that trips up lots of homeowners. You are not covered if you have back-ups or an overflow from your septic system or sump-pump. You can add a rider to your homeowners insurance policy for $5000 of additional coverage for direct physical loss.
  • Hurricanes - If you live in a hurricane prone area be sure to learn what's covered under your policy and what isn't. You may have to purchase a separate policy.
  • Nuclear war or nuclear accident - While these are man-made rather than natural disasters, you should know that your typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover any loss incurred.

Whether you have an "all risk" policy or a "named perils" policy, there will be exclusions. Read these over carefully and be sure to purchase additional riders or policies to make sure your home is fully protected.

Take a few minutes to get a free, no obligation homeowners insurance quote, and see just how affordable our rates can be.

Content provided by Helium Inc. This information is provided for your convenience; it is not intended as insurance advice. The views, opinions, and advice expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not those of Homesite Group Incorporated. Please consult your insurance carrier or agent for information regarding your policy or coverages.
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