Does home insurance cover natural disasters?

Home insurance covers many natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and thunderstorms, snow storms, and wildfires — depending on where you live. But earthquakes and flooding are never covered.

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Kara McGinleyKara McGinleySenior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance ExpertKara McGinley is a former senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she specialized in homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Forbes Advisor, Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.&Jennifer GimbelJennifer GimbelSenior Managing Editor & Home Insurance ExpertJennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at Finder.com and a content strategist at Babble.com.

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Key takeaways

  • Standard homeowners insurance protects your home from many natural disasters, but earthquake and flood damage are never covered.

  • You’ll need to add earthquake and flood insurance coverage add-ons or purchase separate policies altogether to make sure you’re fully protected.

  • And if you live in a state prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, you may also need to addwind/hail coverage or purchase a separate windstorm policy.

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.

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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.

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Fast facts: Natural disasters & insurance claims

  • Natural disasters caused $92 billion in insured property damage in 2021

  • Hurricanes and tropical storms were the most expensive type of natural disaster, causing $38 billion in insured losses

  • Hurricane Ida was the most expensive natural disaster, causing $36 billion in insured property damage

Source: Insurance Information Institute

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.

Wildfires 

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. 

→ Read our complete guide to wildfire insurance

Tornadoes, tropical storms, and hurricanes

Damage caused by tornadoes, tropical storms, and hurricanes is often covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. 

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.  

→ Read our complete guide to hurricane insurance

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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. 

Winter storms

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. 

Volcanic eruptions

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.  

Explosions

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.

Flooding

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.

→ Read our complete guide to private flood insurance vs.NFIP coverage

Compare flood insurance rates today

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Earthquakes 

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.  

Compare earthquake insurance rates today

Get free quotes

Sinkholes

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.

Mudslides

Mudslide damage is not covered by standard homeowners insurance. If mudflow damage is caused by a flood, flood insurance may cover the damage. 

Tsunami

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.

→ Step-by-step guide to filing a home insurance claim after a natural disaster

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Authors

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

Jennifer Gimbel is a senior managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at Finder.com and a content strategist at Babble.com.

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