Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Tornadoes, Lightning etc. - Are You Covered?

Severe weather can pose a major threat to your home and property. Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, winter storms, severe thunderstorms, and flooding can damage or destroy your home in a matter of minutes. And while you can't control the weather, you can be prepared.

Specific types of severe weather tend to occur in specific regions at specific times during the year. But it is important to recognize that this is not an absolute. For example, tornadoes are not restricted to the Plains states--each of the 50 states has experienced at least one tornado in recorded history. Thunderstorms occur throughout the fall and winter months, in addition to the typical summer outbreaks. Make sure your homeowners insurance is adequate, no matter where you live.

Preparing for the worst

If disaster does strike, homeowners insurance will be important to help get you back on your feet. Check your policy now, and make sure you understand your coverage. Certain events and disasters are not covered under a standard homeowners policy. You'll have to buy separate insurance if you need to protect your property against floods or earthquakes, for example. But it's better to know that before the fact, rather than after.

Generally speaking, homeowners insurance provides three things:
  • coverage for damage to your home
  • coverage for damage to your personal property
  • liability protection

The most common homeowners insurance policy in the United States is known as the homeowners-3 policy or HO-3. If you have this policy, you will be covered for everything except the exclusions outlined in the policy (more on that later).

What is covered

The most common perils for which you will generally be covered under an HO-3 policy include:

  • fire and smoke
  • ightning
  • tornadoes and windstorms
  • hail
  • explosions
  • vandalism
  • theft
  • damage from vehicles
  • falling objects
  • loss of food in your refrigerator or freezer due to power outage outside your home (usually up to $500)
  • weight of ice, snow, and sleet (except to fence, pavement, patio, swimming pool, or dock)
  • accidental discharge of water from plumbing system (i.e. pipe bursts) or freezing of plumbing
  • accidental cracking of your hot water heating system
  • accidents resulting from your negligence on or off your property (includes damages award to third party, medical bills of third party, and your legal costs--up to policy limit)
  • your personal property anywhere in the world (with some exceptions)

Remember, this list is not exhaustive. If it's not in the list of exclusions, it's covered.

What is not covered



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