Are Natural Disasters Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

A natural disaster is a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Natural disasters can strike with little to no warning and wreak havoc on a property. From minor water damage to a destroyed home, a natural disaster can cause many expensive damages for a homeowner. If you pay money every month to maintain homeowners insurance, you may assume your company will pay for your damages if a hurricane or another natural disaster strikes. This may not be the case, however, depending on your policy.

Common Covered Perils in Florida

It is important to understand what your homeowners insurance policy covers before you buy. This can vary according to the common natural disasters in your region. Many property owners make the mistake of assuming they have the right coverage only to find out they do not. While you can customize your coverage, the average homeowners insurance policy in Florida already comes with several covered events – called perils – for which the insurer will provide insurance benefits should one impact your home.

  • Hurricanes (windstorms)
  • Hail
  • Falling objects
  • Fires
  • Smoke damage
  • Lightning
  • Appliance-related damage
  • Damage from vehicles
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

Typically, you will need to purchase add-ons to receive insurance coverage for other natural disasters, such as floods. Most turn-key homeowners insurance policies in Florida do not automatically include flood coverage. Consider customizing your insurance plan if you live in a high-risk area in Florida for certain natural disasters or property damages that a general policy does not cover. Always double-check what your policy includes before signing up. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can prevent any unwelcome surprises during the insurance claims process.

Steps to Filing a Homeowners Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster

If a natural disaster impacts your home, do your best to document your losses through photographs, videos and a detailed list of damaged properties. Take any necessary steps to make emergency repairs and prevent further property damage, such as boarding up broken windows or soaking up water to prevent mold damage. Then, contact your homeowners insurance company to file an initial damage claim.

Listen to the insurance agent’s directions for moving forward with repairs, such as hiring a trustworthy contractor and keeping your receipts. This includes receipts for your hotel or travel expenses while you wait for repairs. You may need to use a property damage appraiser on the insurance company’s approved list; however, you should also hire an appraiser of your own to ensure an unbiased estimate. During conversations with insurance claims adjusters, do not admit fault for any property damage and do not accept the first settlement offered. Instead, speak to a lawyer to make sure the insurance company is honoring your rights.

How to Spot Insurance Bad Faith

Floods, sinkholes, landslides, wildfires and tornadoes are common natural disasters in Florida that a standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover. For this reason, it is critical to read the terms of your policy carefully. If your insurance provider denies your claim because your policy excludes coverage for that natural disaster, you may not have an insurance recovery option. If, however, you believe your policy does cover the listed damages, you could be the victim of insurance bad faith for receiving a denial.

Insurance bad faith often takes the form of a homeowners insurance company wrongfully denying a valid claim, denying a claim without giving a reason, delaying claims processing or offering much less than the claim’s true value. Speak to a Tampa homeowners insurance lawyer as soon as possible if you suspect insurance bad faith. You may need a lawyer to protect your rights during claim negotiations – especially if the insurance company is not treating you fairly or honestly. A lawyer can speak out against insurance bad faith, help you understand the terms of your policy and seek payment for a covered natural disaster on your behalf.