Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Arkansas?

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The most common natural disasters in Arkansas are tornadoes, severe storms, and floods. Your homeowners insurance policy should cover damage from wind, lightning, fire, hail, and more, but you’ll need to purchase additional coverage for disasters like earthquakes and floods. 
There are plenty of misconceptions when it comes to homeowners insurance and what is covered by a standard policy. A study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute (III) in 2016 discovered that 29% of Americans wrongly believe earthquakes are covered by homeowners insurance, and 28% incorrectly think flooding from hurricanes is covered. If these disasters occur and the homeowners don’t have the right coverage, they can be stuck in a horrible situation.
Understanding insurance coverages is complicated, and it becomes even more complex when broken down to the state level. What are the most common natural disasters in Arkansas—and will your homeowners insurance cover the damages? 
Car and homeowners insurance super app Jerry explains everything you need to know about home insurance and natural disasters in the Natural State. 
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?

Homeowners insurance policies cover damage to both your personal property and your home, accompanied by liability coverage, loss of use coverage, and medical payments for anyone injured while at your home. Individual policies will vary on covered perils and coverage levels

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: The most basic kind of homeowners policy only covers your primary dwelling. Personal property, loss of use, or liability are not covered. Only a certain number of named perils are covered by HO-1 policies, usually including fire, lightning, and hail.
HO-2: These are another kind of named perils policy, which cover any damages to your home or personal property specifically caused by the perils named within your policy.
HO-3: An HO-3 policy is the most common homeowners insurance policy. HO-3 policies cover the main structure, detached structures (sheds, greenhouses, garages, etc.), personal belongings, medical payments, liability, and loss of use.
HO-3 policies are open perils policies, otherwise known as all-risk coverage. Any peril is covered by these policies, except those listed specifically as exclusions. On the other hand, personal property coverage will only cover named perils. 
HO-5: The gold standard of homeowners insurance, HO-5 policies cover both your personal property and your home under an open perils policy—but for this next-level coverage, you’ll have to pay next-level prices.
That was a lot of information all at once, so let’s break it down in an easier way:
Policy typeWhat’s coveredOpen perils?
HO-1Dwelling structure onlyNamed perils only
HO-2Dwelling structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsNamed perils only
HO-3Dwelling structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsDwelling structure - open perils, personal property - named perils only
HO-5Dwelling structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsYes

What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?

It’s important to understand which perils are named in your policy if you have an HO-1, HO-2, or HO-3 homeowners insurance policy. To find the exact coverage provided by your policy, read the fine print. Generally, you can expect the following 16 named perils to be covered under your policy:
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Damage from electrical current (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
  • Explosion
  • Falling objects (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Frozen pipes (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Smoke
  • Theft or malicious mischief
  • Vandalism 
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Water heater cracking (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet (not usually covered under HO-1 policies)
Pay careful attention to what is not included on the list above. A significant amount of people don’t realize floods and earthquakes aren’t covered by standard homeowners policies—which is an issue since both are common natural disasters in the U.S.
The majority of homeowners insurance won’t provide coverage for all natural disasters, so it’s vital to understand what is and isn’t covered by your policy.
Key Takeaway The coverage provided by your homeowners insurance policy depends on the type of policy you have and the named perils listed within.

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Arkansas?

When compared to other U.S. states, Arkansas does not face a wide variety of natural disasters
Arkansas declared 74 major disasters between 1953 and 2019. According to FEMA, the disasters that occurred the most often were floods and severe storms. Let’s look at the most common natural disasters in the Natural State and see what’s covered by insurance—and what is not.

Severe storms

Storms are the most frequently-occurring natural disaster in Arkansas.
Desha county was hit by a severe storm in June 2021 where over a foot of rain poured down within 24 hours. This storm caused hazardous conditions, road closures, power outages, and flash flooding over homes and crops. 
Does homeowners insurance cover severe storm damage?: Certain storm damages are covered by homeowners insurance policies, like damage from rain, hail, lightning, and wind. However, floods are not covered so you will need to purchase additional flood insurance. 

Tornadoes

On March 29, 2020, Jonesboro was hit by an EF3 tornado. The mall in Jonesboro was nearly flattened by this powerful tornado! The storm system in April 2020 spawned tornadoes that left destruction in their wake. At least 140 tornadoes originated from this storm system as it spread to other southern states, and the event became known as the Easter tornado outbreak.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?: Tornadoes aren’t a separately named peril, but most policies cover damage caused by hail, wind, and lightning. If your area is hit by a tornado, your policy will most likely cover you. 

Floods

The storm in Desha county in June of 2021 caused flash flooding in the area, which is another common event in Arkansas. Flooding can happen as a result of the severe storms in the region.
Does homeowners insurance cover flood damage?: No. Flood damage is not covered by homeowners insurance, and you will need to purchase supplemental flood insurance to protect your home. Flood insurance is available for purchase through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or the private flood insurance marketplace.

Earthquakes

You may not associate Arkansas with earthquakes, but it is relatively close to the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ). The state itself has at least 100 faults. There were three earthquakes in November and December 2021 alone, although they were all under a magnitude of 3.0.
Does homeowners insurance cover earthquake damage?: No. Earthquakes are not covered by basic homeowners insurance. You will need separate earthquake insurance. Sometimes earthquake insurance has a separate deductible from your homeowners policy, and it is typically between 10-25% of the home’s policy limit.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners policy should cover claims caused by storms and tornadoes, but you may need additional insurance for floods and earthquakes.

How to file a home insurance claim

Whether you’re in Little Rock or Pine Bluff, your homeowners insurance policy should cover some of the natural disasters faced by Arkansans. If your personal property or home were damaged by a covered peril, here is how you can submit a homeowners claim:
  • Document the loss. Make an inventory of your damaged property and take plenty of pictures.
  • Contact your insurance provider to let them know you need to submit a claim. 
  • Calculate how much you have paid for each of your belongings (hint: keeping receipts will make this much easier).
  • Complete the claims forms provided by your insurance company.
  • Go over the damage with the claims adjuster assigned to you. Make sure to be thorough so you receive the full amount you need for repairs and replacements.
  • Get estimates for repairs from local contractors for a fair settlement.
  • Collect your payout and start rebuilding.
Filing a homeowners claim can be made easier if you read through the terms of your policy before disaster hits. This can help you figure out what’s covered in a crisis without panicking or scrambling to figure it all out.

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

Findings from a 2016 study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute saw that a mere 17% of homeowners shop around for quotes before renewing their existing policy. Statistically speaking, that means 83% of homeowners could be spending too much on home insurance.
Don’t be like the majority here. Saving on homeowners insurance has never been easier thanks to the Jerry app. The licensed car and home insurance broker and comparison app does all the work for you: finding competitive quotes from trusted insurance companies, filling out forms, and even helping you cancel your old policy!
“It never occurred to me to look for more insurance quotes, but I’m so happy I saw Jerry. After using the app, I am saving $2000+ a year through my new Progressive plan. It blew my mind!” —Jarod M.

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