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Explained: Natural Disasters and Your Homeowners Insurance

Thursday, July 14, 2022   /   by Laura Larson

Explained: Natural Disasters and Your Homeowners Insurance

18 natural catastrophes in the U.S. caused damages totaling at least $1 billion, leaving millions of households devastated both emotionally and financially. Your house insurance policy can be helpful in the wake of such extensive destruction.

We'll go through how homeowners insurance works in the case of some of the most typical natural disasters below. In this manner, you can confidently submit a claim.

The fundamentals of numerous natural disasters and homeowner insurance plans are outlined in this article.

Do wildfire damages fall under homeowners insurance coverage?
Yes, a fundamental homeowners insurance policy will cover both smoke and fire damage.

In addition to damages from wildfires, you would also be covered for losses from a fire that started in your house (in the kitchen, for example) or that spread from a neighbor's house to yours.

Keep in mind that you might have the choice to reduce coverage for fire damage by accepting a higher deductible or to boost coverage by raising your policy's maximum (that is, by keeping a greater amount of the loss for yourself). The term "endorsement" refers to this addition to your insurance.

Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane-related damage?
Yes! Your policy's windstorm insurance should protect you from losses brought on by a hurricane's strong winds. Your homeowner's insurance policy can pay for things like rebuilding or repairing your roof in the event that high-speed winds completely destroy your house.

We could suggest that you add an additional hurricane deductible if you live near the coast. If you submit a claim due to a hurricane, this additional, typically higher deductible becomes effective.

This deductible enables insurance firms to provide coverage to more people in hurricane-prone locations, which is also financially sustainable.

Do winter storm damages get covered by homeowners insurance?
Snow may be attractive, but it can seriously damage your house. Fortunately, homeowners insurance can assist in paying for a variety of losses and difficulties brought on by severe winter storms and subzero temperatures.

Your homeowner's insurance would assist pay the costs if your pipes burst and damaged any of your possessions, including your couch or laptop. If the incident required you to leave your home for an extended period of time, you might also be entitled to compensation for any costs associated with temporary housing and living expenses. Additionally, the repairs to the broken pipes themselves would be covered by your homeowner's insurance.
But (and this is a major but), you could not be qualified for coverage if you weren't at home and/or didn't keep your house warm enough to keep your pipes from breaking.

It's also vital to keep in mind that you won't be covered for an Airbnb or a hotel stay if you only have frozen pipes that haven't broken. Stock up on drinking water before the storm hits in case you end up with frozen pipes.
Here’s when your homeowner's insurance coverage can kick in the wake of a winter storm: 
- The weight of the snow damages the structure or shingles of your roof.
- Your walls, ceilings, insulation, HVAC, and plumbing systems will sustain damage as a result of water leaks brought on by ice dams.

Does home insurance provide coverage for flooding?
Flood damage is not covered by a home insurance policy (the same goes for renters insurance, by the way). The national flood insurance program offers a special, government-sponsored flood insurance coverage, which is fittingly named flood insurance.

However, other sorts of water damage involving things like burst pipes, roof leaks, and appliance overflow may be covered by your home's policy (e.g., your washing machine decides to explode mid-cycle).

Does homeowners insurance cover earthquakes?
No. Homeowners' and renters insurance policies do not cover damage caused by earthquakes, so if you live in a high-risk area, you’ll likely need to buy a separate policy, along with your base homeowners or renters insurance policy. In certain states, Insurance offers earthquake coverage as an add-on—also known as an “endorsement.”

Insurance might cover damages caused by fire following an earthquake, which is a common consequence of an earthquake.

Does homeowners insurance cover damage caused by power outages?
Power outages, without other physical damage to the structure of your home, aren’t covered as part of standard homeowners insurance policies.

Such outages are common in the U.S. due to all sorts of bad or inclement weather, and renters and home policies won’t kick in unless there is actual damage to your home.

So, if you lose power in a bad thunderstorm, for example, you won’t be able to claim a hotel stay as part of your loss of use coverage or get reimbursed for food that spoils in your fridge as a part of your personal property coverage. 

Does homeowners insurance cover damages to my car?
Homeowners insurance does not cover damage to your car caused by natural disasters. While your car is indeed a piece of personal property, it’s treated differently. So if a tornado knocked over a tree and it collapsed on your Prius, the damages wouldn’t fall under your homeowner's insurance policy.

Instead, such damages would be handled by your car insurance policy, as long as you have comprehensive coverage. 

Before we go…
Natural disasters can leave a path of destruction in their wake.

When extreme weather passes through your community, safety for yourself, your loved ones, and your neighbors should be your #1 priority. Start putting together an emergency kit, so you have important equipment and critical supplies on hand, no matter the weather.

Also, be sure to take a look at your homeowner's insurance policy every once in a while, so you can reevaluate your coverage, and make adjustments if needed. If you want to learn more about how to protect your home against natural disasters, connect with Laura Larson for more information.