When you purchase homeowner's insurance, you may assume that all unintentional damage will be covered under your policy. In reality, several relatively common disasters are unlikely to be covered under standard homeowner coverage. It is important to know which things are not likely to be covered in a typical homeowner's insurance policy so you can ask your agent specifically about the things you foresee needing coverage for.
Most standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. If you live in an area that is prone to earthquakes but your agent does not have that type of coverage available, ask about a clause for "named perils." In a "named perils" policy, you can specify the area of concern and some agencies will allow you to pay extra in order for that peril to be covered. Some government-funded programs exist specifically for earthquake-prone areas. One is through the California Earthquake Authority. Even if your insurance company doesn't offer earthquake coverage, your agent can provide information regarding the government programs available for your area.
The National Flood Insurance Program says floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States. But most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage to flooded homes. The National Flood Insurance Program specializes in policies that cover flood damage, even in high-risk areas. Keep in mind that even federal disaster programs are unlikely to ever repay the full amount of your losses. Insurance companies know that the likelihood of being a victim of flood damage is great in the United States, which is why this type of damage is usually not included in a policy.
Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage caused directly by hurricanes. However, most policies will cover damage caused by wind or hail. Proving whether the wind or hail was the result of a hurricane that occurred "near" your home vs. whether the actual hurricane flew over your home and caused damage can result in a lengthy claim and court battle. For this reason, more and more insurance companies are specifying what constitutes hurricane damage in comparison to damage caused by the winds that resulted from a hurricane storm nearby. When you take out your homeowner's insurance policy, be sure to ask for these specifics so that they don't come as a surprise should your home ever be caught in such a storm.
Since no insurance companies cover landslide damage as of March 2011, it is wise to use extreme caution in purchasing a home that is built on a hill or in a landslide-prone area. Research the town's geographical surveys to avoid this risk, since the damage that a landslide can cause may literally leave you homeless and without any chance of immediate financial reparation. While landslides are relatively rare in the United States, they do occur from time to time and do not always give warning.
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