Is tsunami damage covered by insurance?

Home insurance doesn’t cover flood damage caused by tsunamis, but a flood insurance policy does. You can purchase flood insurance through the FEMA-backed National Flood Insurance Program or the private marketplace.

Kara McGinley

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover any type of flood damage, including flooding caused by tsunamis. In order to be protected from tsunami damage, you’ll need a flood insurance policy. Tsunamis are typically caused by earthquakes, which is another disaster that homeowners insurance does not cover. 

If you live in an area that is at risk for tsunamis, like Hawaii, that may mean you’re also at risk for earthquake damage. You’ll need to add an earthquake endorsement to your homeowners policy or purchase earthquake insurance to protect your property from quake damage.

Key takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, including flooding caused by tsunamis

  • You’ll need a flood insurance policy to protect your property from tsunami damage

  • Tsunamis are typically caused by earthquakes, which also aren’t covered by home insurance. You may be able to add earthquake coverage to your homeowners policy or purchase earthquake insurance

What type of damage can a tsunami cause?

Tsunamis are massive waves, usually triggered by earthquakes, that can crash into coastal communities. A strong tsunami can cause massive flood damage, destroying homes, businesses, and cities in its wake. A tsunami can also knock down trees, power lines, and create a lot of dangerous debris. States like Hawaii, Alaska, California, and Washington are all at risk for tsunami damage.

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Does flood insurance cover tsunamis?

Yes, a flood insurance policy includes coverage for flood damage caused by a tsunami. Most insurance companies offer flood insurance policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA. 

NFIP policies include two categories of coverage:

  • Building contents coverage: NFIP policies offer up to $250,000 in building contents coverage. This type of coverage protects the structure of your home — like the roof, foundation, walls, and plumbing — if it is damaged or destroyed by a tsunami or other covered flood event. 

  • Personal contents coverage: NFIP policies offer up to $100,000 in personal contents coverage. This type of coverage can help pay to replace your personal belongings, like your furniture, televisions, or artwork if they’re damaged by a tsunami or other types of flood damage. 

→ Learn more about what flood insurance does and does not cover   

Say, for example, you purchase the maximum amount of building contents coverage and your home gets destroyed in a tsunami. You’d first file a claim with your insurer and once it’s approved you’d pay your deductible, which is the amount of money you’re responsible for paying before insurance kicks in. 

After that, your flood insurance would pay a maximum of $250,000 (minus your deductible) to help you rebuild or repair your home. If you purchased $100,000 in personal contents coverage, you’d also have to pay a deductible and then you’d be reimbursed the remaining amount to replace your belongings. 

If you live somewhere that’s at high risk for tsunamis and these coverage limits are too low for you, you may want to consider purchasing private flood insurance. With private flood insurance, you can set much higher coverage limits, and it also includes extra coverage that NFIP policies don’t — like loss-of-use coverage.

Does earthquake insurance cover tsunamis?

Earthquake insurance does not cover flood damage related to tsunamis, even though earthquakes often cause them. If you’re at risk for tsunamis, you’re likely also at risk for quake damage. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover earthquake damage or any damage related to earth movement, like landslides. 

Depending on the insurance company, you may be able to add a coverage add-on, or endorsement, to your policy for protection against earthquakes. You can also buy an earthquake insurance policy.

→ Learn more about earthquake insurance

Author

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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