How Can You Protect Your House from Volcanic Eruption?

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Lava flow (Photo: @jennifermccallum via Twenty20)
Elan Mcafee · Writer · Dec 17, 2020
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    If a volcano erupts near your home, your first thoughts beyond survival may be how to protect your house. While there’s little that can be done to protect any dwelling from molten lava, most property damage from volcanoes is actually from the ash. Ash is created from the blasting of rock during an eruption and can travel miles away from the volcano.

    Types of property damage from volcanic eruption

    To best think about how to protect your house from volcanic eruption, it’s necessary to know what kinds of damage can occur. The following things associated with an erupting volcano can damage your property:
    • Ash abrasion
    • Ash accumulation
    • Explosions
    • Fires
    • Floods
    • Landslides
    • Shockwaves
    • Water contamination
    Clearly, some hazards are more serious than others. That means you can better prepare for some issues. It is, for instance, more difficult to protect your home from an explosion than it is from ash accumulation. Know that there are limits to what you can do and focus on the things you can address.

    How to protect your house from volcanic eruption

    There is little you can do to protect your house from streams of molten lava or a landslide. There are, however, measures you can take to minimize damage from lesser risks.
    • Check your homeowner’s policy to understand protections against volcano damage.
    • Clean debris from gutters and roof to reduce combustibility.
    • Cover ventilation openings when in imminent danger to prevent ash entry.
    • Keep important documents and keepsakes in fire-resistant box.
    • Park your car and machinery in a garage, shed, or other covered shelter.
    • Reinforce your roof (i.e. additional rafters) to better bear weight of volcanic ash.
    • Seal doors and windows during volcanic eruption to keep ash out.
    In addition to preparing your property for safety in a volcanic eruption, you should prepare for your own safety. This means creating an emergency evacuation plan, stocking up on first aid supplies, and understanding the safety risks of volcanic eruption in your area.

    Homeowner’s insurance and volcano damage

    A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does little to protect your house from volcanic eruption, although your car insurance policy will likely cover damages to your vehicle. Much of the property damage that can occur in a volcanic eruption is not covered, including:
    • Earthquake damage
    • Flood damage
    • Landslide- or mudslide- related damage
    • Tainted water supply
    • Volcanic ash accumulation
    While there are a host of things homeowner’s insurance won’t cover in the event of property damage from a volcanic eruption, there are some policy add-ons that can provide a degree of financial relief. These add-ons do increase monthly premiums but may be invaluable in the event of a volcanic disaster. Also, bear in mind that many insurance companies will not permit such add-ons during or immediately after a volcano erupts within your vicinity.
    Both earthquake and flood insurance can be purchased as additions to a standard homeowner’s policy. While this is not specifically volcano insurance, earthquakes and floods frequently follow volcanic eruption. In this manner, purchasing earthquake and flood extras can protect your house from volcanic eruption.
    It’s also possible to increase personal property protection under your homeowner’s insurance. While this would not pay for rebuilding or repairing the home itself in the event of disaster, it can help to replace the things you own. If you experience a total loss, personal property insurance can make a big difference in getting back on your feet.
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