May showers are upon us and summer is on the immediate horizon – it’s time to prepare for seasonal storms, and their potential for damage to your property. Does homeowners insurance cover storm damage? The answer is “maybe.” Let’s get into the particular causes and consequences of the damage you might experience, and unpack what may or may not be covered by your homeowners policy.
Acts of God
You frequently hear folks in the insurance world reference “Acts of God” when discussing what is and isn’t covered. But what is considered an Act of God? Simply put, an Act of God is an incident that was neither preventable nor predictable, and cannot be blamed on any person or group. Acts of God include, but are not limited to:
- Lightning Strikes
- Thunder Storms
- Volcanic Eruptions
- Winter Weather
Each of these weather and severe events can bring about damaging wind, water, fire, debris, and fallen trees. Most Acts of God are covered by homeowners insurance, but not all. Damage caused by earthquake, tremors, mudslide, landslide, tsunami and flood (more on that below) is most likely not covered. Talking with your insurance provider about what Acts of God are and are not covered is wise when electing your suite of policies. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard by significant expenses amidst a traumatic experience.
Damage to your home and other insured structures on your property that is caused by strong wind, gusts, and wind-driven snow, hail and rain typically are covered by your homeowners insurance policy. This means repairs to your roof, siding, broken windows, fence, and other structures are likely covered either in full following your deductible, or to a degree; it depends on the type of policy.
Water is a tricky one because it depends on the nature and entry point of the incident. You may hear people in our industry say we cover “water that comes down, but not water that comes up”.
Of course, it’s not so cut and dried as the phrase suggests, but it’s useful for remembering that homeowners insurance typically does not cover water damage that results from a river, lake, pond, or storm surge – that is, water that comes up. It’s worth noting that insurance won’t usually cover damage from a broken water main, sewage pipe or drain, or from a manmade opening in your home. For these types of events, you are more likely to benefit from having flood insurance.
Water damage from sudden and accidental incidents inside the home, such as an overflowing appliance or frozen or burst pipe, is usually covered. The same goes for rainwater, hail, or snow that comes in from a hole created by an Act of God – that is, water that comes down. Note that while your policy may cover requisite repairs to damaged property, it most likely will not repair or replace the source of the damage. For instance, drywall and floors may be replaced, but the washing machine that leaked would not be.
Homeowners insurance will typically cover damage caused by fire, smoke, and explosion to your home, belongings, and other insured structures. Insured structures that are struck by lightning are usually covered, and in most cases appliances, devices and other electronics damaged from power surge are protected as well. Most homeowners policies also cover wildfire – although, not necessarily if you live in an area that sees frequent burns.
Trees that fall as a consequence of an Act of God are usually covered. Damage from downed trees that are found to be dead or diseased, though, are not typically covered. As a general rule, when a tree lands on your property – whether it originates from your property or a neighbor’s – it is the homeowner’s responsibility to remove the debris and cover the expenses associated with the damage.
If you are displaced as a result of storm damage, your policy may offset expenses associated with residing elsewhere until your home is once again habitable. Note, too, that damage to your vehicle is typically addressed by your auto insurance policy.
Want to talk about your current policies or additional coverage that may be wise to add to your portfolio pertaining to storm damage? Connect with us! The Independent Insurance Associates team stands ready to support you, rain or shine!