Does home insurance cover natural disasters?
Home insurance covers many natural disasters, including wind and hail storms, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, snow storms, wildfires, explosions, and volcanic eruptions, depending on where you live.
This includes protection for your home, other structures on your property (like fencing, a gazebo, or detached garage), and the belongings inside your home. Your policy can also pay for additional living expenses — like hotel stays and restaurant meals — if you’re temporarily displaced from your home while it’s being repaired.
Home insurance never covers damage caused by earthquakes or natural flooding. You’ll need to purchase coverage endorsements or separate earthquake and flood insurance policies to protect your home and belongings from these natural disasters.
8 natural disasters covered by homeowners insurance
Here’s a more in-depth look at the different natural disasters covered by homeowners insurance, including when you might need to purchase coverage add-ons or separate policies depending on where you live.
Home insurance typically protects your home and belongings from wildfires. But if you live in a high-risk wildfire area, like certain parts of California or Oregon, it may be more difficult to find coverage. If this is the case, you might be able to purchase insurance through your state’s FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan or a surplus insurance carrier that specializes in wildfire coverage.
Tornadoes, tropical storms, and hurricanes
The one exception is if you live in a state prone to tornadoes or hurricanes. In this case, you might need to add a wind/hail coverage endorsement to your policy or purchase a separate windstorm insurance policy altogether.
With that, you’ll also be on the hook for a separate wind/hail, named storm, or hurricane deductible. Wind/hail deductibles are generally anywhere from 1% to 10% of your dwelling coverage limit, while hurricane deductibles are typically between 1% and 5%.
Keep in mind that homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, so any flood damage that results from a hurricane or tornado would not be covered by your policy. You’ll need separate flood insurance for that damage.
Lightning and thunderstorms
Damage caused by lightning and thunderstorms is covered by homeowners insurance. If a bolt of lightning strikes your roof and causes a house fire, strikes a tree that falls on your roof, or causes a power surge that fries your television, your home insurance policy should cover the damage.
Homeowners insurance covers damage caused by winter storms and ice buildup, like if an ice dam causes your roof to collapse. If extreme cold freezes your heating system or plumbing, home insurance may help cover the cost of repairs as long as the systems were in use, like if you had the heat on during a blizzard. But if you went on vacation for a couple of weeks and left the water tank on and it froze, you likely wouldn’t be covered.
Standard home insurance covers damage caused by volcanic blasts, ash, dust, and lava flow. If the volcanic eruption leads to fire and smoke damage, home insurance will cover that, too. But if the eruption leads to an earthquake, homeowners insurance would likely not cover the quake damage.
However, you might have trouble finding home insurance coverage if you live near one of the six active volcanoes in Hawaii. If this is the case, you might be able to buy a policy through the Hawaii Property Insurance Association (HPIA), which is Hawaii’s FAIR Plan.
Home insurance covers damage caused by many types of explosions that happen due to a natural disaster, including those caused by earthquakes or flooding. But your policy won’t cover explosions due to nuclear hazards, intentional and illegal acts, or acts of war.
5 natural disasters NOT covered by homeowners insurance
A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover every type of natural disaster. But there are typically coverage add-ons or separate policies that you can purchase to ensure you’re fully protected.
Home insurance never covers flood damage — you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy for that. You should strongly consider flood insurance if you live in an area at risk of flooding. If you have a mortgage on your home, your lender may even require flood coverage.
Most flood insurance policies are administered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a FEMA-backed program, though more and more companies have started offering private flood insurance as well.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by earthquakes. To protect your home from quake damage, you’ll need to add a coverage add-on to your home insurance policy or purchase separate earthquake insurance.
Standard home insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by sinkholes. However, you may be able to purchase a sinkhole coverage add-on to protect your home and belongings from this type of earth movement. Insurance companies in Florida and Tennessee are legally required to offer sinkhole coverage to homeowners.
Mudslide damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. If mudflow damage is caused by a flood, flood insurance may cover the damage.
Standard home insurance does not cover tsunamis or the flood damage that follows. You’ll need a flood insurance policy to cover water damage caused by tsunami floods.
4 tips for filing a home insurance claim after a natural disaster
If you’re overwhelmed by the aftermath of a natural disaster, here are a few tips for preventing further damage and filing a home insurance claim:
Contact your home insurance company ASAP. It’s common for home insurance companies to be inundated with claims following a natural disaster. The sooner you contact them and submit your claims forms, the sooner you can begin the process and get reimbursed for repairs.
Make temporary repairs. Secure any parts of your home that were damaged to avoid further damage and ensure your home is safe to continue to live in.
Hold on to your receipts. Save any receipts for temporary repairs you make or living expenses you incur if you have to stay elsewhere while your home is being repaired.
Don’t be afraid to schedule a follow-up visit with your claims adjuster. If you’re worried you were low-balled in your initial inspection and claim estimate, schedule a second visit. The first check you get is typically an advance, and it’s not unusual to find additional damage that wasn’t accounted for. You can reopen your claim and file an additional amount.