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Stay Prepared with Natural Disaster Insurance

Theresa Breunig-Silbernagel
by Theresa Breunig-Silbernagel, Head of Personal Lines and Transformation, Main Street America Insurance •

From wildfires to hurricanes, any number of natural disasters can impact homes in the United States. Governmental data shows a steady increase in disaster-related insurance claims, with $145 billion in combined damages making 2021 the third most costly year in U.S. history. Fortunately, protecting your home and property from out-of-pocket expenses is easy with the right insurance.

Common Natural Disasters that Affect Homeowners

No matter where you live in the United States, your home and family are at risk of experiencing a natural disaster. Common disasters in the U.S. include:

  • Severe thunderstorms
  • Hurricanes
  • Tornadoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Flooding
  • Wildfires

Important Natural Disaster Insurance Coverages

Navigating insurance policies can be confusing, but rest assured — there is no hurricane insurance or tornado insurance needed. In most cases, the coverage you already have in place will be enough to protect you and your property in the event of weather-related damages.

Here are the important natural disaster insurance coverages you’ll want to consider for your home:

Homeowners Insurance

Does homeowners insurance cover natural disasters? The short answer is yes! With the right coverage in place, your property insurance will pay to repair or replace any damages caused to:

  • Your home
  • Furniture and other personal items in your home
  • Your property and outdoor items like fences, sheds and more

It’s important to know that in some states, earthquake coverage may be excluded from a homeowners policy. An independent insurance agent can help identify your unique risks and if earthquake coverage is included in your area. Likewise, while homeowners policies cover flooding caused by things like burst pipes or sewage backups, they do not protect your home from natural flooding. For that, you’ll need a flood insurance policy.

Flood Insurance

As we said, natural flooding is the one thing not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. You’ll need work with your insurance agent or directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build the right flood insurance policy for you. It’s important to remember that even if you aren’t in a high-risk zone, you are still at risk of flooding and without proper coverage you can expect to pay thousands to restore your home.

Auto Insurance

Why stop at protecting your home? It’s a good idea for anyone — especially those living in high-risk areas or who don’t use a garage — to consider auto insurance coverages that will protect your vehicle in the event of severe weather. With comprehensive insurance coverage, your auto insurance policy will help pay for damages caused by things like hail, tornadoes and flooding.

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

Aside from insurance coverage, disaster preparedness is the best way to protect your home and family, and ensure you recover faster. Here are a few tips:

Before the Storm

While you can’t predict a natural disaster, you can prepare for it. The steps you’ll need to take may change depending on the type of disaster you’re most likely to face, but here are some good items to help protect you from anything:

  • Reinforce windows and doors to prevent damage in a storm
  • Use sandbags to prevent floodwaters from entering your home
  • Tie down or secure furniture and outdoor items before a storm begins
  • Ensure your landscaping is clean and fire-retardant
  • Know where your gas, water and electrical lines and how to shut them off
  • Have a plan in place for how you’ll handle common disasters so you know what to do in an emergency

And don’t forget — conduct regular home audits and ensure your insurance policies are up-to-date so you’re ready to smoothly navigate the claims process if necessary.

Recovering from a Natural Disaster

After a natural disaster, the most important thing is ensuring everyone is safe. If necessary, evacuate your home and find a safe place for your family and pets to relax while you wait out the rest of the process. Next, take inventory of the damage and begin the claims process. Be sure to take a lot of photos and list all items that will need to be repaired or replaced. You can work directly with your independent insurance agent, your insurance company, or (for flood insurance) FEMA to navigate the claims and payment process.

Talk to an independent insurance agent today to ensure you have the right insurance coverages for your home.