Updated: July 2016
From icy winters to summer droughts, Mother Nature can take its toll on your home. And if your home in New Mexico has insurance coverage better suited for a house in Maine, you may not be protected from what the weather could bring your way. Here are some things to look for in a homeowners insurance policy to help you make sure you have the right coverage for your region.
Most areas will experience extreme weather or a disaster from time to time, although some regions may be more at risk for specific conditions or frequent storms. When purchasing your homeowners insurance policy, you may want to consider things like what types of weather are common in your region. If, for example, you live in an area that is prone to thunderstorms or snow storms, it's a good idea to review your policy to learn what perils, such as wind and ice, are covered.
You'll also want to be certain your policy includes enough personal property protection for your belongings, such as furniture and electronics. You may want to review your coverage limits, which is the maximum amount your insurance company will pay out after a covered loss. These limits typically can be adjusted if you feel you need more coverage to help protect your home and its contents.
While standard homeowners policies typically cover a number of perils, here are a few things to consider if you live in an area that is at risk for region-specific issues.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), floods are the most common and most costly natural disaster in the United States. Even homes outside of high-risk areas may experience flooding. In fact, more than 20 percent of flood loss claims occur in low to moderate risk areas. Yet, many people don't realize that their homeowners policy most likely won't cover damage caused by flooding.
Flood insurance, however, can be purchased separately through the National Flood Insurance Program. Coverage will typically help protect your home as well as your personal belongings, should they be damaged as the direct result of a flood.
With the National Interagency Fire Center reporting thousands of wildfires every year, it's a good idea to be sure your policy includes coverage for wildfires — particularly if you live near wooded areas, foothills, grasslands or mountains.
If you live in an area that's prone to tornadoes or hurricanes, you probably know that these storms can quickly wreak havoc. It's important to know if your policy covers damage caused by wind and hail. Some homeowners policies may exclude or partially exclude coverage for damage caused by those perils. Keep in mind, too, that most policies do not include coverage for flood damage, even if it is the result of a tornado or hurricane.
A few thousand small earthquakes happen across the country each year, according to FEMA. Even the smaller shocks can cause damage to homes, such as cracked walls, windows or pipes. Most homeowners policies, though, exclude damage caused by an earthquake (often described in policies as earth movement). However, an agent can help you determine whether earthquake insurance is available in your area.
In much of the country, winter brings snow and ice along with it. While that may mean watching the snowfall with a cup of hot cocoa or time for your favorite outdoor activity, it can also mean hail damage or frozen pipes. Most homeowners policies offer some protection for damage caused by icy, winter weather.
Wherever you live, it's a good idea to understand what is included in your homeowners insurance coverage before Mother Nature strikes. A local agent can help if you have any questions, want to update your existing policy or would like to know if any additional coverages are available.