Does home insurance cover natural disasters?

The four questions to answer before catastrophe strikes. (iStock)

In 2020 alone, there were so many hurricanes that the World Meteorological Association ran out of names. But hurricane damage isn’t the only thing property owners should be concerned about: tornadoes, floods, or even thunderstorms with extra strong winds are also common natural disasters that could threaten the structure of a home.

As a homeowner, if you’re underinsured, natural disasters can not only be emotionally devastating, but costly, too.

So, it's only natural to ask yourself if you have the proper home insurance in case disaster strikes. If you don't believe you have proper coverage and protecting your home is a priority, head to Credible to review your home insurance options and get quotes free of charge.

Are natural disasters covered by home insurance?

Homeowners insurance typically covers more common natural disasters such as fire, theft, wind, and snow, but coverage varies by policy, state, and type of structure insured. This is why it is so important for a homeowner to become acquainted with the specifics of their own policy in relation to their personal property; separate dwellings like a garage or guest house may not even be covered under the main policy!

Brian Haney, the founder of a financial firm with insurance expertise, explains that while most home insurance policies do include some type of disaster coverage for named tropical storms, the two biggest exclusions for natural disasters are flood and earthquake. “These coverages are both quoted separately, outside of the quote you’d receive for a standard homeowners’ policy,” he explains. “If the risk is greater in the homeowners’ location, it is best to seek these quotes if needed.”

​Need homeowners insurance? Explore pricing and find the right home insurance plan​ that fits your needs on Credible.

Many disasters could occur at any moment, even such far-fetched realities as landslides, sinkholes, or nuclear fallout.

While you could get a rider for every event, R.J. Weiss, a CFP and founder of the personal finance site The Ways to Wealth, advises instead that it is more important for consumers to ascertain the risks specific to their area. “Do not discount 100-year type events that are rare but could be catastrophic for your property (e.g. a home in a 100-year flood plain, or the more recent California wildfires). It's these types of events that are often overlooked, but most important to cover for.”

HOW MUCH DOES HOME INSURANCE COST?

What coverage limitations or exclusions should I watch out for?

As with any insurance, it is important to watch out for the deductible listed on your policy. A cheaper policy will likely exclude many common coverages and come with a high deductible, but your monthly premium will be much less.

Typical maintenance is one area where it can get tricky for homeowners. For example, if a hurricane wrecks a roof and a worker comes to repair it, but then discovers existing termite damage, the repair could possibly become excluded. It's recommended that homeowners be proactive and look out for any issues that could lead to potentially bigger problems.

Explore homeowners insurance policies to learn more about coverage plans. Whether your concern is hurricane damage, tornado damage, wind damage, flood damage, or beyond — it's important to read policies closely and get free insurance quotes.

DO YOU NEED HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?

How do I prepare my home for a natural disaster?

To recap, here are the most important tasks homeowners should accomplish to ensure their home is fully covered in the event of a natural disaster.

  • Read your current homeowners’ insurance policy: Take note of what is and isn’t covered, specifically as it relates to natural disasters.
  • Evaluate weather events in your area: What (if any) natural disasters happen? How often do they occur? If any events are an annual occurrence (tropical storms or tornadoes for example), seek quotes from reputable insurance brokers for additional coverages you might need.
  • Validate your home’s replacement cost and look into their policy’s loss settlement clause: Do this at least once a year to ensure your coverage is as up to date as possible, particularly if you’ve done recent improvements or purchased valuables you store in the home (like art, jewelry, high-end furniture, antiques, etc.).
  • Investigate how to file a claim with your insurance company: Online? Via web app? Email or contact center?

Once you know what additional coverages are needed to protect your home, it’s best to obtain multiple quotes from several insurance companies as prices and what is and isn’t covered will vary. To shop and compare multiple home insurance companies investigate insurance coverage options via Credible.

If you still have questions about insurance coverage, consider reaching out to a financial professional for advice.

DO YOU NEED HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE?