If you comb through the fine print of your insurance policy – and you absolutely should, you’ll likely come across some unfamiliar terms. In the insurance world, a “floater” isn’t a personal water-safety device, an “inland marine” isn’t a soldier stationed off the coast and an “act of God” isn’t actually divine intervention – although some policies do cover Biblical perils.
An act of God, in insurance terms, is a damaging event or peril outside of human control that no one could have prevented and for which no one can be held legally responsible. Some examples include:
If a catastrophic hurricane or tsunami strikes without warning, causing water to rise and wreak havoc on your home and property – you may be surprised to learn that you’re on your own. Standard home insurance policies typically only include protection against water damage caused by a leaky roof or a burst pipe. Rising water – such as flooding generated by a hurricane or other severe storm – presents a different type of risk and can therefore typically only be covered by a separate flood insurance policy.
Any “earth movement” events that are not manmade, such as earthquakes, tremors, landslides, mudslides, volcanic eruptions and more may be excluded from a standard homeowners insurance policy. Some cover damage resulting from fires caused by earthquakes; however, if you think earthquakes or those other hazards present a threat in your area, you should purchase a separate policy.
Many standard homeowners insurance policies include coverage for windstorms, hail, lightning and other perils that typically accompany a cyclone. However, some carriers may consider a tornado an Act of God since it is a natural disaster outside of human control. Coverage varies widely from carrier to carrier, so it’s best to go over the fine print of your policy with a licensed agent in order to learn exactly what’s covered and what’s excluded.
Although many auto insurance policies do include Act of God coverage (if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your policy), a standard homeowners insurance policy typically will not offer any type of equivalent coverage. However, most carriers do offer options for extending your coverage.
Homeowners insurance policies also may exclude non-Acts of God, such as war, nuclear accidents and more. If you’re concerned about your coverage, get squared away with a licensed agent by customizing your policy to boost your protection against as many unpredictable perils as is feasible.