Hazard insurance definition
Hazard insurance refers to an insurance policy that covers damage to a home's structure due to an unexpected disaster or loss. Hazard insurance typically covers the most common types of natural hazards and property damage, including fire, lightning strikes, wind, and other covered perils.
While most types of hazard insurance cover at least 16 causes of damage or loss, damage due to earthquakes or flooding is generally not covered. However, some insurance companies may offer earthquake or flood insurance coverage for an additional fee.
What is hazard insurance on a mortgage?
Before you can finalize a mortgage to buy your home, your lender will likely require you to purchase hazard insurance. Most lenders require this coverage to secure their investment (your home), which serves as collateral that they're able to seize if, for example, you stop paying your mortgage.
But in the unfortunate event the house was destroyed and you didn't have hazard insurance to pay for rebuild expenses, you and your lender would incur a major financial loss. For that reason, mortgage lenders usually require hazard insurance until the home is fully paid off.
Along with requiring you to purchase hazard insurance, your lender may have stipulations around how you pay for it. In fact, most mortgage lenders will require you to pay your hazard insurance premiums and property taxes through an escrow account if your down payment is less than 20%. In other words, you're paying for insurance as part of your monthly mortgage payment.
Learn more >> Homeowners insurance & escrow accounts
Is hazard insurance the same thing as homeowners insurance?
While homeowners insurance is most commonly associated with hazard insurance, it isn't the only residential property insurance policy out there. For example, one lender may only require enough hazard insurance to cover the home's structure and nothing else, like a dwelling fire insurance policy, while another lender may require a more comprehensive policy like HO-3 homeowners insurance.
But regardless of what type of hazard insurance your lender accepts, it's important to make sure your home and assets are adequately protected — and homeowners insurance is the best way to do that. Along with providing hazard insurance (aka dwelling coverage) for the structure of your home, home insurance policies come with five additional coverages that cover your possessions, living expenses if you need to live elsewhere during repairs, and liability if you're responsible for an accident or injury.
What does hazard insurance cover?
Hazard insurance covers the costs if your home is damaged by an unexpected event that's covered under your policy. The most common types of home insurance policies provide comprehensive "open perils" coverage, while older homes or homes with a complicated risk profile are occasionally restricted to more limited "named perils" coverage.
How does hazard insurance coverage work?
Hazard insurance pays for damage or loss to your home's structure if it's damaged due to a covered disaster, but the amount you're reimbursed on a claim depends on which level of coverage you have.
There's generally three levels of hazard insurance coverage: actual cash value, replacement cost value, and extended replacement cost.
While actual cash value hazard insurance is generally the cheapest, it offers the least amount of protection — and most insurers don't even offer this as a dwelling coverage option anymore.
On the other hand, replacement cost and extended replacement cost coverage offer the most comprehensive level of protection for your home.
Generally speaking, you should have enough hazard insurance to rebuild the home from the group up — not the home's market value or purchase price.
How much does hazard insurance cost?
Hazard insurance makes up the bulk of your homeowners insurance policy, which on average costs around $1,754 annually, according to our analysis of 2022 home insurance rate data from across the country.
The overall cost of coverage will depend on factors related to the home itself, including:
Your home’s square footage
The location of your home
The construction type of your home
Your roof type — hip, gable, or flat
The number of bathrooms in your home
Your home’s age
Insurers set rates based on how likely you are to file a claim. If you live in an area that experiences frequent natural disasters, or your home is older and more susceptible to damage, that can significantly impact your rates.