Welcome to the wildest weather year of them all. All this extreme weather has me looking into what my home insurance does and doesn’t cover. Not all policies are created equal, so my advice is to check with your agent on the specifics of your policy, but here is what I discovered is likely NOT covered without purchasing add-ons.
And with this crazy weather looking to become more the norm than the exception, you may want to check your policy sooner rather than later if any of these are a possibility where you live.
A straight-forward homeowner’s policy generally doesn’t cover flooding. Hopefully, if you live in an area that could be at any risk of flooding, your agent mentioned this to you… but it isn’t always the case. Flood Insurance is administered through FEMA, which partners with about 80 companies (most likely including your existing agent) to offer the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance can be purchased to cover the structure of your home, as well as your possessions, up to available limits. You can visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more, and to see how high of a risk your home has of flooding. Of course, rates are normally higher for those living in a “high risk” flood area, but I think this makes it even more imperative to look into this option.
Earthquakes, sinkholes, and other “movements” of the earth will likely not be covered by your basic policy, either. In every state except California, you can purchase an addendum policy to cover quaking, shaking, and sinking from your existing agent. The residents of California can get a policy through the California Earthquake Authority. Auxiliary damage caused as a result of an earthquake (fires, etc…) will likely be covered by either your addendum or regular policy, but it’s a good idea to ask thorough questions about this.
Generally, there aren’t addendum policies available through most major insurance carriers that will cover landslides. But coverage for this can be purchased through a specialty carrier, such as Lloyds. This coverage can be quite costly… but consider the cost of losing your home and all of the contents because of a slide. My new home sits right next to a slope… the home has been there since 1940, but with all the recent slides in my area, I’m not sure I trust the “if it’s lasted this long…” mentality.
These are just a few examples of what might not be covered by your standard homeowner’s policy. I definitely recommend having a chat with your agent to determine other risks you might face, and what additional coverage might be in your best interest. As always, insurance is a balance between not overspending on coverage you don’t need and protecting your assets the best you can.