Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Florida?

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In Florida, natural disasters including wildfires, hurricanes, floods, severe storms, and sinkholes are all possible and cause damage to your house and belongings. Though homeowners insurance provides important coverage to help protect your assets, it is good to know what is—and isn’t—covered in your policy.
Of the Sunshine State’s most common natural disasters, a typical homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover damage from hurricanes, floods, and wind from severe storms. Also, while homeowners insurance companies in Florida are required to cover “catastrophic ground collapse”, not all sinkholes are included in this coverage.
Home and car insurance comparison app Jerry is here to break down what homeowners insurance in Florida covers, how your policy type can change your coverage, and explain the details of Florida’s most common natural disasters that require additional coverage.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?

A homeowners insurance policy can cover damage to your home, damage to your belongings, loss of use, personal liability, and medical expenses if someone is hurt on your property. However, the amount of coverage and named perils will change depending on what kind of homeowners insurance policy you have.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: This is the most basic type of homeowners insurance and only provides coverage for your house if it is damaged by a limited list of named perils. With an HO-1 policy, you won’t have coverage for any of your belongings, loss of use coverage, liability coverage, or medical coverage.
HO-2: If you want to extend your homeowners insurance coverage to your belongings as well as your house, an HO-2 policy will cover both in the event of damage from a named peril.
HO-3: This policy type is the most common and covers your house, any additional structures (like a shed) that are on your property, your belongings, loss of use, personal liability, and medical expenses.
Unlike the two more limited types of homeowners insurance policies, an HO-3 policy is considered an open perils policy when the structure of your house is damaged. This means that unless a peril is listed as an exception, it is included in your coverage. Your belongings, on the other hand, are still only covered by a limited list of named perils.
HO-5: To get the most coverage from your homeowners insurance policy, you’ll want to choose an HO-5 policy. With this type of policy, you’ll get open perils coverage for your personal belongings along with all the coverage included in an HO-3 policy.
To help you better understand these different policy types, here’s a breakdown of what each cover.
Policy typeWhat’s coveredOpen perils?
HO-1Main structure onlyNamed perils only
HO-2Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsNamed perils only
HO-3Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsMain structure - open perils, personal property - listed perils only
HO-5Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsYes

What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?

Since not every type of homeowners insurance policy is the same, it’s important to read through your policy and take note of what named perils are included in your coverage. Some of the most common named perils in Florida include:
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Hail
  • Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft 
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
Along with the additional coverages you get with an HO-2 or HO-3 homeowners insurance policy, you may also have additional named perils such as:
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
  • Broken water heater
  • Electrical surge damage
  • Frozen pipes
No matter what kind of homeowners insurance you have, pay careful attention to what disasters your policy doesn’t cover. In Florida, it is uncommon for wind, flooding, and hurricane damage to be included among the perils covered by your policy. Depending on where you live in Florida, you may want to buy additional coverage in case your home or belongings are damaged by one of these disasters.
Key Takeaway The specific perils listed in your policy—along with the coverages—differ depending on what kind of homeowners insurance policy you have.

Does homeowners insurance cover natural disasters in Florida?

There are a lot of factors that put Florida among the most disaster-prone states in the country. Though its position between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean makes it particularly susceptible to strong hurricanes, the state’s most common natural disaster is wildfires.
To get a better sense of what the risk of damage from different natural disasters is in Florida, as well as which are—or aren’t—covered by your insurance, we’ll take a look at the natural disasters that are a risk to Florida homes.

Wildfires

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 2,262 wildfires were reported in Florida in 2021, resulting in over 105,000 acres of burned land throughout the state. Though many people think of Florida as only swampland, beaches, and theme parks, the state has a unique set of environmental factors that makes it particularly susceptible to wildfires.
The state’s warm climate makes wildfires possible year-round while supporting the thick vegetation that fires depend on. Since Florida is second to none in lightning strikes each year, there is an increased likelihood of naturally-caused fires in the state. Adding to the problem is the increased number of fires that are started by humans as the state’s population continues to grow.
Luckily for those who live in Florida, damage from wildfires is included in most homeowners insurance policies

Hurricanes

While some areas of Florida’s coast experience fewer hurricanes than others, it is a common misconception that there are parts of the state that are “safe” from hurricanes. In fact, the Florida Climate Center reports that since 1850, all of Florida’s coastlines have been impacted by at least one hurricane—but many areas have experienced many more. Starting at the beginning of June and running through the end of November, the Atlantic hurricane season brings hurricane and tropical storm damage to Florida every year.
Florida homeowners insurance policies do not cover hurricane damage. Instead, a separate deductible can be added to your homeowners policy that provides hurricane coverage if winds caused hurricane damage to your house.
You will need to buy flood insurance, which is also separate from homeowners insurance, to cover hurricane-related flooding from both heavy rainfall or a storm surge.

Wind storms

For storms other than hurricanes, whether your Florida homeowners insurance does or doesn’t cover wind damage from a storm depends on where you live. In some areas, wind damage that isn’t caused by a hurricane is covered by your homeowners insurance.
In the portions of the state that are most susceptible to damaging winds—called wind-pool areas—your mortgage provider will often require that you have wind insurance to cover wind damage from severe thunderstorms, tornados, and other severe storms that aren’t hurricanes. In these high-risk wind-pool regions, your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover wind damage

Sinkholes

Sinkholes are a big problem in Florida because of the state’s bedrock, which is the solid layer of rock that lies beneath the gravel and dirt that we typically think of as the ground.
Florida’s bedrock is made up primarily of limestone, which is a type of rock that dissolves over time as acidic water seeps into its cracks. As it dissolves, it leaves behind large empty pockets that can become sinkholes in a matter of moments when the dirt above gives way.
Figuring out whether or not your homeowners insurance in Florida has you covered if a sinkhole opens up under your house is not straightforward. By law, insurance companies must include catastrophic ground cover collapse as a named peril in your homeowners policy, but sinkholes don’t always meet the four-part criteria of a catastrophic ground cover collapse.
Unless you’ve bought separate sinkhole insurance, all of the following requirements have to be met for your homeowners insurance policy to cover sinkhole damage in Florida:
  •  The sinking of the top layer of soil must occur abruptly
  • A depression in the ground cover must be clearly visible without the aid of instruments
  • There must be structural damage to the home, including the foundation itself
  • A government agency must condemn and evacuate the structure
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance will cover damage from some Florida natural disasters, but you will need to buy additional insurance to cover damage from floods, hurricane winds, windstorms, and some types of sinkholes.

How to file a homeowners insurance claim

Your Florida homeowners insurance won’t cover every disaster, but when a disaster that your policy does cover causes damage to your house or belongings, you‘ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. To submit a claim, you’ll need to do the following things:
  • Document your losses by creating a list of your damaged belongings, including photos and other specific information about each item
  • Contact your insurance company to let them know you are filing a claim. An adjuster will perform a review to make sure your claim is valid
  • Report how much you paid for each item you need to replace. Keeping receipts from all big purchases can help you accurately report the cost of everything that was damaged
  • Fill out the claim paperwork your insurer provides 
  • Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage to your house and belongings, making sure you take the time to look at every damaged room so you can get the right amount of money
  • Do research to get repair estimates from contractors. Having accurate estimates will help you negotiate a fair amount from your insurer to cover the cost of repairing your house 
  • Collect your money once the claim is settled so you can start the repair process
To make the claims process as quick and easy as possible, make sure you’re familiar with the details of your homeowners insurance. This includes the coverages it provides and the perils named in the policy.

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

If you want to save money on your homeowners and car insurance policies in Florida, the best way to find the best deal is to shop around. But unless you are an insurance-shopping expert, searching for the best insurance quotes yourself can be time-consuming and confusing.
Luckily, by downloading the Jerry app and answering a few quick questions, you can get competitive quotes from 50+ top insurance companies that fit your coverage needs and budget. Jerry will help you choose the best policy, fill out all the paperwork, and our knowledgeable and friendly team can answer any questions you have along the way right from the app.
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