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Does homeowners insurance cover volcanic eruptions?

Kilauea house
Don Smith/Getty Images
Kilauea house
Don Smith/Getty Images
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Volcanic eruptions are rare, but when they occur, they can be devastating. One of the more recent examples was the recent Kilauea eruption in Hawaii, which forced 2,000 people to evacuate and left homes completely destroyed or significantly damaged. Many others were without power for months on end. Prior to the Kilauea eruption, the last major volcanic eruption occurred in 1980 when Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, unexpectedly exploded in a massive eruption. That eruption left 57 dead and destroyed or damaged more than 7,000 structures.

If you live near an active volcano, one question you might have is whether your homeowners insurance will cover volcanic eruptions. The good news is that your standard homeowners insurance policy will likely cover the damages caused to your home by volcanic eruptions in nearly all cases. That said, there could be some related damages that aren’t covered under your homeowners insurance policy. That’s why it’s important to understand what damages may or may not be covered after a volcanic eruption. Here’s how your home may be protected under your homeowners insurance policy if a volcano erupts.

What happens if my home is damaged from a volcanic eruption?

While uncommon, volcanic eruptions do happen, and if they occur near your property or home, they can cause serious damage. As such, one question you might have is whether your homeowners insurance will cover volcanic eruptions, or whether you need separate volcano insurance to be sure your property is covered should these types of damages occur.

There is no need for additional coverage for volcanoes or a separate volcano insurance policy for your home. In fact, separate volcano insurance isn’t an option at all because it isn’t necessary. Volcanic eruptions are a common covered peril, which means that the damages to your home and property will likely be covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy if they’re caused by a volcano erupting near your home. This includes the related damages caused by fire, smoke, ash, dust or other particles.

If your home is damaged in an eruption, your dwelling coverage will likely pay to repair or rebuild your home. If your belongings are damaged or destroyed due to a volcanic eruption, your personal property coverage may also help cover the costs up to the policy’s personal property limits.

Does a homeowners insurance policy cover volcanic eruptions?

Yes, homeowners insurance covers volcanic eruptions as a covered peril. What this means is that your policy will likely cover damage to your home that is caused by volcanic eruptions up to the coverage limits in your policy. This likely includes removal of ash or dust and additional living expenses if your home is damaged to the point that it’s uninhabitable. It’s important to note, though, that coverage for these types of circumstances have limitations, and that pertains to the removal of ash and dust in particular. These issues are typically covered at a much lower level in your policy.

On the other hand, damage from certain events that may coincide with a volcanic eruption, like an earthquake or tsunami, may not be covered by home insurance. For example, the flood damages from a tsunami that occurs due to a volcanic eruption would not likely be covered under your standard home insurance policy.

However, if you have a separate flood insurance policy, the flood damages may be covered under that policy. Similarly, damage from earthquakes that coincide with a volcanic eruption may not be covered unless you have a separate earthquake policy to protect your home.

What other natural disasters are covered under homeowners insurance?

Volcanic eruptions are not the only natural disasters covered by homeowners insurance policies. Aside from volcanic eruptions, some of the natural disasters that are likely covered under your homeowners insurance include tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning, explosions, extreme cold and fire. Homeowners insurance typically does not cover damages caused by earthquakes, floods, tsunamis or mudslides.

What should you do if your home is damaged by a volcanic eruption or another natural disaster?

If your home is damaged by a natural disaster, like a volcanic eruption, you should first contact your home insurance company to start the claims process. You will need to complete the claims process in full to receive compensation for the damage done to your home. Your insurance representative can help guide you through the claims process to ensure your claim is filed correctly.

And remember, you don’t need to have a separate volcano insurance policy in order to be covered for damages caused by volcanic eruptions. Your homeowners insurance policy will likely provide coverage, but it could be worth checking with your insurance agent to be sure.

What volcanic eruption damage is not covered by a homeowners policy?

While your homeowners insurance policies covers most of the damages caused by volcanic eruptions, some types of damage may not be covered. For example, the damage from volcanic effusion, mudslides, or related water damage that occurs from an eruption will not likely be covered under a standard home insurance policy. If you’re worried about whether your policy will cover damage from a volcano, you may want to contact your insurance provider and read the fine print on your homeowners insurance policy to learn more about any potential gaps in coverage.

Final thoughts

While volcanic eruptions are rare, there is a risk to homeowners in certain parts of the country, including Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon. But while a volcanic eruption can cause widespread and severe damages, the good news is that the damages caused by these eruptions are typically covered by your standard homeowners insurance policy. However, there may be a few types of damages that aren’t covered. If you aren’t sure what will be covered by your homeowners insurance if a volcanic eruption occurs, it may be helpful to speak to your agent to get a better understanding of what your policy covers should this type of natural disaster occur.

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