Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

When does homeowners insurance kick in after a fire, earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster?

Will your homeowners insurance policy cover damage from a natural disaster?

Most natural disasters are not covered by a standard home insurance policy. In the wake of a natural disaster, claims could be expensive enough to force insurance companies into insolvency. Thus, insurance companies are hesitant to provide insurance for these perils.

In order to carry home insurance for natural disasters, you'll need to look elsewhere. Let’s assess some relatively common natural disasters and steps you can take to protect your assets.

 

  1. Which natural disasters are covered by home insurance?
  2. Which natural disasters aren’t covered by home insurance?
  3. Related information

 

Which natural disasters are covered by homeowners insurance?

This depends on your homeowners policy details and your location. Most policies cover fire damage — but if you live in wildfire-prone areas, your coverage might be a little different. Furthermore, most policies cover volcanic eruptions — but if you live near a volcano, you might face some coverage limitations. 

Damage caused by tornadoes is usually covered by home insurance if you have wind damage coverage on your policy. This typically comes standard. Double-check your policy documents to confirm. 

Insurance policies generally cover damage from the below disasters. Always check your insurance policy to verify coverage for these natural disasters. 

  • Fire and lightning damage
  • Windstorm or hail damage
  • Smoke damage
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Weight of ice, sleet, or snow (for example, if it collapses)

 

What natural disasters are not covered by homeowners insurance?

Most natural disasters are not covered by home insurance — due to the risk of costly natural disaster claims. These filings tend to be total losses, meaning private insurance companies typically can’t afford the risk. Below are natural disasters not covered by most standard homeowners insurance policies.

 

Floods and home insurance

In order to be insured against flood damage, you need a separate policy by the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP. This is the most common way to get a flood insurance policy. These policies usually provide a maximum of $250,000 in dwelling coverage and $100,000 in personal property insurance. Moreover, you hold no insurance coverage for additional living expenses if your home is deemed unlivable after a flood.

Some companies sell private flood insurance — however, most homeowners use FEMA-issued flood insurance. Furthermore, whether or not you need flood insurance for your home will be determined by your location. If you’re in a flood plain, you absolutely need flood insurance.

Below is state-by-state information on home insurance and flooding.

LouisianaFloridaMaryland
TexasGeorgiaPennsylvania
South CarolinaNorth CarolinaNew York
New JerseyCaliforniaHawaii
MississippiVirginiaMassachusetts

 


Sinkholes and home insurance

Sinkholes are cavities in the ground caused by water erosion, which can be exceedingly destructive to homes and property. However, homeowners insurance does not typically cover damage caused by sinkholes — the only exception to this being Florida. Florida law requires home insurance companies to provide protection for “catastrophic ground cover collapse,” which includes sinkholes.

Outside of Florida, your best option for sinkhole coverage is to speak with your insurance provider about an endorsement or add-on coverage.  

 


Earthquakes and homeowners insurance

Earthquakes, landslides, and sinkholes are often excluded from insurance coverage because they are considered “ground movements.” If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you should purchase a separate policy or an earthquake insurance endorsement. The California Earthquake Authority is one of the primary providers of earthquake coverage.

Learn more about homeowners insurance and earthquakes in select states:

AlaskaMontana
CaliforniaNevada
HawaiiOklahoma
IdahoWashington
KansasWyoming


Homeowners insurance for mudslides and landslides

Mudslides and landslides are tricky when it comes to insurance. Considered “earth movements,” neither is covered under a standard homeowners policy. Mudslides occur when a large amount of water erodes the soil on a steep slope. Although water is the primary catalyst of a mudslide, flood insurance does not apply.

The best way to insure your home against mudslides and landslides is condition insurance (DIC). Known as a “gap filler,” DIC policies are typically sold separately or offered as add-on endorsements. 


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