Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Alabama

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Homeowners insurance in the state of Alabama covers fire, wind, hail, and lightning, but you may need flood and earthquake insurance as well. 
In the past couple of decades, Alabama residents have experienced an average of two natural disasters per year. The most common events are severe storms, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornados, landslides, extreme heat, and power outages. Some of these disasters are covered by a standard homeowners policy, others are not. 
Knowing what coverage you need and what you actually have can be the difference between a manageable recovery and losing everything after a natural disaster.
Don’t let yourself be caught unaware. It is all too common for homeowners to misunderstand their home insurance policy, only discovering that they are not covered after the damage is done. 
Let Jerry explain everything you need to know about natural disasters and home insurance in Alabama.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover? 

Homeowners insurance protects your house, its contents, and other assets on your property. Having an insurance policy is nearly always required as a condition of your home loan, and it covers the cost of damage to your home from the perils described in your policy. 
You can generally expect that your homeowners insurance will include coverage to repair or replace damage done to your home, liability insurance in case of injury to others on your property, and loss of use to pay for alternative accommodations if you are forced to leave your home due to damage. 

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: This is the most basic level of homeowners insurance, covering the actual cash value (ACV) of your home and covered possessions. This means you will be reimbursed for what you paid for the items minus depreciation. 
HO-2: A more broad policy option, HO-2 is a named perils policy that covers your home and personal property. This policy will pay for replacement or repair to your home at the current cost. 
HO-3: This is the most common type of policy chosen by homeowners. It provides replacement costs for your home. HO-3 is an open perils policy for your home, which means that you are covered against any type of damage unless it is specifically listed in your policy. For your personal property, this policy provides named perils coverage.
HO-5: The most comprehensive of all the homeowner’s policies, the HO-5 is an open perils policy that covers both your home and your personal property against all damage unless that is not expressly included in your policy. 
All of these policy types except HO-1 include coverage for liability and medical payments, loss of use, and personal property
Have trouble keeping it all straight? Here is a simple breakdown.
Policy typeCoverage providedOpen or named perils
HO-1Main structure onlyNamed perils only
HO-2Main structure, personal property, liability, medical payments, loss of useNo- named perils only
HO-3Main structure, personal property, liability, medical payments, loss of useMain structure - open perils, personal property—named perils only
HO-5Main structure, personal property, liability, medical payments, loss of useYes

What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?

If your policy includes named perils for your home or personal property, make sure you review it carefully to learn what is included.  In general, policies include these 16 named perils
All three policies generally cover:
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Damage caused by vehicles 
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
HO-2 and HO-3 policies also typically include:
  • Falling objects 
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet 
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing 
  • Water heater cracking 
  • Damage from electrical current 
  • Frozen pipes 
In Alabama, homeowners are at risk from other perils that may not be covered in their standard policy. This includes:
  • Hurricanes, floods, and water damage
  • Burst pipes
  • Earthquakes
  • Sewer or sump-pump failure
  • Debris removal
Key Takeaway Pay close attention to the type of policy you select, and the perils that are named in that policy to avoid having your claim denied. 

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Alabama?

Home insurance policies are pretty customizable, and it is important to know what coverage you need for your specific location. Alabama residents have unique needs that may not be covered without adding on to your standard policy. 

Flood

Due to hurricanes, severe storms, and proximity to bodies of water, Alabamians have higher than average odds of experiencing flood damage. Unfortunately, flood damage is not covered in standard insurance policies. Flood insurance can be purchased separately from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 
NIFP policies can be purchased to cover both the structure and the contents of your home. 

Tornadoes

Most insurance policies consider tornadoes to be a windstorm, which is a commonly named peril. So you can typically count on being covered if one touches down in your area. 

Water seepage

Water seepage can occur due to faulty water pipes or from groundwater penetrating the structure of your home. This type of damage is not covered by most policies as it is considered to be a wear and tear-type maintenance issue.

Burst pipes

Alabama policies will likely cover the water damage caused by a burst pipe, but they may not cover the cost to replace the pipe. That may be considered a maintenance issue, so you will want to be prepared. 

Earthquakes

Historically, earthquakes have not been a major issue for Alabama homeowners, but in recent years they have been happening more often. In 2020 Alabama experienced eight earthquakes and had 17 in 2019. 
Alabama has two fault lines running through the state. The Southern Appalachian Seismic Zone affects northern Alabama and the Bahamas Facture Seismic Zone runs across the southwestern portion of the state. 
Earthquakes are not typically covered in home insurance policies, so you may need to purchase more coverage.

Fire

You can generally count on damage from fire being covered in your home insurance policy—but you will want to be sure that you have sufficient limits. If your house is destroyed in a fire, the cost of replacing your home is determined by:
  • The square footage of the home
  • The type of exterior construction (e.g. frame, brick, stone, veneer)
  • The type of roof
  • Any attached structures
  • The number of rooms and bathrooms
  • Any additional features such as custom cabinetry and fireplaces
  • The construction costs in your area
In a lot of cases, if your coverage limits won’t cover 80% of the cost to replace your home, your claim can be denied, so make sure to keep your policy up to date if you remodel, add-on, or make improvements to your home. 
Key Takeaway Do not make any assumptions about your coverage. Review all possible scenarios with your agent to make sure you have the coverage you need in your area. 

How to file a home insurance claim

  • File a police report, if applicable. If you’ve suffered a loss due to vandalism, theft, or other illegal activity, start by filing a police report. 
  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. You may have the option to do this online or through an app, which is better for minor claims. Make a call to your agent as soon as possible. 
  • Document your claim. This can be a time-consuming process, but it is necessary to take photographs and list all of your lost or damaged items thoroughly and as close to the time of the event as you can. 
  • Make immediate repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage. Most policies recommend this, and some even require it. Policies are not likely to cover damage that could have been prevented—by, for instance, covering a hole in your roof—if you could reasonably have prevented it.
  • File a written claim with your agent. Get your claim going as soon as you can to avoid delays in processing. This will help make sure that repairs are done correctly and done fast. It is important to note that filing a claim may raise your insurance premium, so you may consider just paying out of pocket and skipping the claim for minor damage. 

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

A recent study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute found that only 17% of homeowners shop around before renewing their policy. This means that the vast majority of policyholders renew without asking any questions. This convenience can cost you.
The Jerry app will help you find the best insurance, and will automatically search for a better deal every time your policy renews. Jerry can also help you bundle your home and auto insurance policies for extra savings.
 “Jerry was wonderful! I used it for my auto and renters policies. I trusted it so much that I signed up my homeowners insurance under Jerry as well. All of the agents are amazingly nice and knowledgeable.” —Mary Y.

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