If a natural phenomenon damages your house, do you need to have it repaired? The answer is complicated.
Most home insurance policies cover damage from inclement weather such as storms, lightning, and hailstorms, as well as certain natural disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Natural hazards that are beyond human control are often referred to as “acts of God”. Homeowners insurance protects you against many acts of God, but not all - floods and earthquakes are not usually covered. You need extra coverage to protect yourself against flood and earthquake damage.
The line between overcast and clear can also be blurrier than people realize. For example, think of a fire. An accidental fire in your home is not an act of God as accidental fires are usually preventable. But fires from lightning strikes fit the definition of force majeure because no one is to blame.
Here's everything you need to know about force majeure and insurance providers.
Not sure if your insurance covers force majeure? Check your policy or buy a new oneAssure. With this easy-to-use tool, you can research quotes from multiple insurers in just minutes, saving you time and money.
Table of Contents
- Disasters covered by home insurance
- Force majeure not covered by homeowners insurance
- How to protect yourself from natural disasters
- Force Majeure Insurance - Frequently Asked Questions
- Check your policy and protect your home
Disasters covered by home insurance
Certain catastrophes are usually included in insurance coverage. Natural events normally covered include:
hurricanes:Gale force winds and wind driven rain are usually covered. However, hurricanes can cause storm surges and flood damage that are not covered in standard policies. Policyholders living in hurricane-prone states should add flood insurance to ensure they have comprehensive coverage against hurricane damage. Also, the insurance industry routinely excludes wind damage from coverage in certain communities with frequent hurricanes. Make sure your policy covers storms, or look into storm insurance.
Tornados:Tornado-force wind damage is usually covered by home insurance. However, your insurer may require a separate wind/hail deductible if a tornado damages your home. Your policy may also cover water damage from wind-driven rain if the tornado damages your roof and water gets in.
Blitz:Most home insurance policies cover damage from lightning, including fire and power surges.
Forest fires :Most homeowners insurance policies cover fire and smoke damage from wildfires, but homeowners in areas like California where wildfires are common may have difficulty obtaining coverage against this particular hazard. If you're having trouble getting insurance in your area, you have a few options. Look for surplus or excess line providers that specialize in high-risk homes, or buy a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan, which is a high-risk insurance pool that most offer states.
Volcanic eruptions:Your insurance will likely cover volcanic eruptions and the associated shock waves, fire, ash, and lava flows, but there are some exceptions. Ash damage is usually only covered if it causes specified physical damage to your property; Your policy will not pay for removal.
Force majeure not covered by homeowners insurance
Not all natural disasters are covered by standard home insurance. Two important natural causes of damage are not usually covered - floods and earthquakes. You need separate insurance for both.
floods:Water damage is usually covered if it occurs suddenly and accidentally, e.g. B. if a pipe bursts, but homeowners insurance doesn't cover backups, gradual leaks, or flooding. People in flood-prone areas must purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program to cover their homes. Your lender may require you to get flood insurance if you live in a flood-prone area.
earthquake:Earthquakes are not covered by standard household insurance. You will need standalone earthquake insurance or an earthquake supplement to your existing policy if you wish to be covered.
How to protect yourself from natural disasters
Not sure if your policy covers natural disasters? No panic. Find out if you're covered with these tips.
Ask your insurance agent.The terminology used by your insurer may differ from that used by other insurers. Some policies may have a specific "force majeure" clause, while others relate only to risks and hazards. Ask your agent what is specifically covered in your policy and what is not. Familiarize yourself with any exclusions in your policy - for example, it is common for policies to exclude damage to fences, gates and sheds.
Find out if you need more or different insurance.Evaluate your policy and determine what your insurance covers. You may need to upgrade your policy or purchase a separate policy to cover circumstances such as flooding.
Understand your risk.Be honest about your risk level and find out what it is if you don't already know. Your insurer can help you with this. Don't leave anything out or embellish anything when you need to make a claim.(Video) What is Force Majeure?
Ensure a well-maintained property.Even if a specific force majeure is covered, insurance companies may not pay if they don't believe you have taken reasonable steps to prevent loss. For example, if you let your roof decay, it may be more susceptible to damage during a snowstorm. Make sure your property is well maintained by doing things like checking drains, repairing wear and tear on the roof, repairing broken fences and cracks in walls, and chopping down rotting trees. Be ready to prove you have taken good care of your property if you have to make a claim.
Force Majeure Insurance - Frequently Asked Questions
Floods and earthquakes are usually not covered. You must have separate flood or earthquake insurance to cover damage from these sources.
Insurance is based on a risk assessment and this includes 'force majeure' coverage. People in areas prone to certain types of disasters—such as California wildfires—may find that coverage for these hazards is not standard. Talk to an insurer about a separate policy if you find this is the case in your area.
If the insurer believes your property was in poor condition, they can dispute whether force majeure was really responsible for the destruction of your property. For example, if you have a derelict shed that's barely standing and a storm takes it down, your insurance may not pay because you should make sure it was structurally sound before the storm. Take steps to reduce the risks to your property and be ready to show your insurer proof that everything is in good condition.
Check your policy and protect your home
When it comes to reviewing your policy to make sure the major events of force majeure are covered, it's better late than never. View your policy and speak to your insurance agent today to ensure you're covered for the biggest risks in your area.
Don't like what you find? Buy add-ons for your policy or buy a new oneAssure. You could get cheaper and more comprehensive coverage in just a few minutes.
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