Home Insurance Coverage: Shielding You From Disasters

Yara Zakharia, Esq.

Each year, millions of Americans rely on home owner insurance to safeguard their property and home against some of the deadliest disasters. With guidance from a home insurance company, homeowners are able to determine in detail which disasters are covered by the property insurance they wish to apply for.

Standard home owner insurance offers coverage in 11 disaster categories:

  1. wind/hail
  2. aircraft
  3. riots/civil unrest
  4. explosion
  5. vehicle damage
  6. fire/lightning
  7. vandalism
  8. smoke
  9. theft
  10. volcanic eruptions
  11. self-damaging instances (i.e., portion of a building falls on itself)

An insured can expand his or her standard home insurance coverage to include the following:

  • water damage (ex: broken dishwasher, overflowing washing machine)
  • falling objects (ex: trees)
  • lightning
  • forest fire
  • electrical surge damage (i.e., power surge)
  • ice/sleet/snow

Home insurance offers protection against the following seven major natural disasters:

Earthquakes: A standard home owner insurance policy does not cover earthquakes. However, applicants can usually obtain supplemental earthquake insurance coverage from the same company they purchased the standard property insurance.

Floods: Standard home insurance does not provide coverage for flood and water damage. A separate policy is required, and it can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program. Individuals residing in one of the 19,000 communities enrolled in the National Flood Insurance Program can buy flood insurance at a fixed rate. The greater the flood risk in their area, the higher the property insurance cost. Flood insurance is available anywhere in the U.S., usually through a local agent.

Hailstorms: Some companies refuse to deal with homeowners who lack a hail-resistant roof, relegating them instead to a higher risk category. In Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, where most hailstorms occur, the cost of home owner insurance has risen. Policyholders, however, can lower their premium by installing impact-resistant asphalt shingles.

Hurricanes: Many standard home insurance policies cover wind damage, but in some areas or states that are storm-prone, homeowners may need to purchase a supplemental policy. In Florida, wind and hurricane coverage is excluded.

Tornadoes: Standard home insurance provides coverage for wind damage from twisters. However, in some states or areas that experience a lot of storms, a supplemental policy may be needed as well.

Volcanoes: Usually, a standard home insurance policy covers volcanic eruptions when the damage to the property is caused by airborne shockwaves, lava flow or volcanic blasts. Most home owner insurance policies, however, do not cover land tremors, earthquakes, mudflows or landslides often triggered by volcanic eruptions. Property insurance does not usually cover the cost of removing ash from property unless it first causes a direct physical damage to personal property.

Fires: Home insurance almost always offers coverage for fires. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more common for a home insurance company to avoid homeowners in areas prone to wildfires. The determining factor is the home's location. If it is situated in close proximity to a natural forest, property owners should have clearances and a nonflammable roof.

Finally, when shopping for home insurance, it is advisable that you seek out the type of policy that best suits your circumstances and location and that corresponds to your needs. The home owner insurance should provide adequate protection for your valuables and supplemental coverage to shield you from natural and other types of disasters that are not covered in the basic policy.

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