Which Natural Disasters Does Home Insurance Cover in Kentucky?

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Kentucky is known for bourbon and horse racing, but it’s also one of the most disaster-prone states in the US, experiencing tornadoes, floods, fires, storms, and landslides every year. Standard home insurance often covers wind, hail, and fire, but you’ll need additional policies to protect against floods and landslides.
Understanding homeowners insurance terms can be hard. According to a 2020 Policygenius study, over 50% of Americans incorrectly believe that home insurance covers flooding, and about 80% wrongly believe that home insurance covers earthquakes. That means when those disasters happen, many will be left with damaged homes and no insurance.
Kentucky ranks #8 for most disaster-prone states in the US, so if you’re a homeowner there, you need to know what your insurance covers. To help, home and car insurance super app Jerry has compiled this handy guide to natural disasters and insurance in Kentucky.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?  

Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that covers damage to your house. At higher levels, it will also include coverage for your assets and personal property, liability coverage, and medical payments coverage.
The perils covered differ with each level of coverage, so let’s consider each one separately. 

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: The bare minimum homeowners insurance policy. It only covers your primary dwelling against a limited number of named perils including lightning, fire, hail, and volcanic eruptions. 
HO-2: Covers damage to your home and your personal property. Also quite limited, covering damage from only the perils named in the policy.  
HO-3: The most common type of homeowners insurance policy is an HO-3 policy. It covers the main structure of your home, your personal property, and additional structures like garages or sheds.
A standard HO-3 will also include liability, loss of use, and medical payments coverage.
For protection against natural disasters, the HO-3 is a solid option. HO-3s are usually open perils policies, meaning they cover any peril except those listed as exclusions. 
Note that at the HO-3 level, only the main structure of your home is protected against open perils. Your belongings and other structures are only protected against named perils.
HO-5: The gold standard of homeowners insurance, covering your home and your personal belongings against open perils. The downside? Since the HO-5 offers the most protection, it’s also the most expensive.
If you’re still confused, take a look at the table below
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?

If you don’t have an open perils insurance policy, your insurance will only cover named perils—hazards named in writing on the policy—so it’s important to know what they are. 
You’ll have to read your policy terms for exact details, but you can usually expect coverage for the following 16 named perils:
  • Hail and wind
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Damage caused by vehicles 
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Frozen pipes (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Falling objects (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Water heater cracking (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Damage from electrical current (not usually covered by HO-1)
Take a look at what isn’t on the list. After tornadoes, floods are the most common natural disaster in Kentucky, and flooding is never covered by home insurance
Kentucky also experiences severe landslides every year and—you guessed it—they’re not covered by home insurance either.
Key Takeaway Home insurance coverage depends on the policy’s level and named perils. Floods, earthquakes, and landslides are never covered.

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Kentucky? 

With 56 major disaster declarations since 1956, Kentucky ranks #8 in the US for states with the most natural disasters. Since your odds of experiencing a disaster are high, it’s important to know what your insurance covers to avoid having to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket.
Let’s take a look at the most common natural disasters in Kentucky and see if home insurance covers them.

Tornadoes and other storms

Kentucky experiences 40-60 thunderstorms that produce a total of 21 tornadoes every year on average. Thunderstorms in Kentucky get severe even when they don’t generate tornadoes, easily overturning mobile homes, tearing roofs off houses, and uprooting trees.
Repairing storm damage to your home can cost up to $9,800, while tornadoes can devastate your property to the tune of $17,000, so you don’t want to be caught without insurance.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado and storm damage? Yes. Home insurance policies don’t usually name tornadoes specifically, but they do name wind, hail, and lightning, which cause the majority of all storm damage. 

Wildfires

The frequency and intensity of wildfires are rising in all fire-prone states, and Kentucky is no exception. In 2021, Kentucky ranked #7 for the number of wildfires in the US according to the National Interagency Fire Center, with 723 fires in a single year.
With more homes becoming exposed to wildfire risk every year, it’s critically important to invest in a good home insurance policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover fire damage? Yes. Check your policy for details, but standard homeowners insurance covers fire damage.

Floods

Floods are Kentucky’s most frequent and most expensive natural disaster.
Spectrum News 1 reported in late 2021 that hundreds of thousands of homes, roads, and other infrastructure in Kentucky are constantly at risk of flood damage. This is especially true along the Ohio River, where some of Kentucky’s most populous cities are located.
Flooding is never covered by homeowners insurance, so to get protection in this flood-prone state, you have to buy it separately. To purchase flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), run by FEMA.

Landslides

A landslide is a movement of earth or debris down a slope and is among the most destructive and costly natural disasters in the US. 
According to the American Geosciences Institute, landslides in the US cost up to $4 billion annually—and nearly 100 of them happen every year in Kentucky.
Landslides can destroy your house in a few moments, but they’re not covered by homeowners insurance policies. They’re not covered by flood insurance, either, even though they’re frequently caused by erosion due to water. 
So if you live in Kentucky where landslides happen a lot, how do you protect your home? You’ll have to buy a Difference in Conditions (DIC) policy.
The purpose of a DIC policy is to fill in gaps in coverage left by standard home insurance. It can be used to cover flooding, landslides, earthquakes, and more, so you don’t have to buy separate policies for each disaster.
DIC policies are expensive, so most homeowners don’t purchase them. But if you live in an area prone to landslides, a DIC could be a good option because no other policy covers this natural disaster.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance will cover tornadoes, storms, and wildfires, but you’ll need to purchase separate coverage for floods and landslides.

How to file a home insurance claim

Nobody wants it to happen, but in a disaster-prone state like Kentucky, the moment may come when you have to use your homeowners insurance. If your home is damaged due to a covered natural disaster, here’s how to submit a claim:
  • Plan ahead. Keep receipts for big purchases and other important documents in a fire- and weather-proof safe so they’re protected and easy to find.
  • Document your losses. After a disaster, make a list of damaged possessions, including prices. Take photographs!
  • Inform your insurance company that you’re submitting a claim.
  • Fill out the claim paperwork that your insurance company provides. 
  • Get home repair estimates from local contractors to help negotiate a settlement with your insurer.
  • Meet with the claims adjuster to go over the evidence. Don’t skip anything—even if it seems minor. All damage should be accounted for to get your fair payout.
  • Collect your funds and start rebuilding.
Trying to do math and process insurance lingo when you’re in a state of crisis is hard, so try studying the terms of your home insurance policy beforehand. That way you already know how much coverage you have and what for when the time comes.

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

The surefire way to save on insurance is to comparison shop. According to a 2021 Lending Tree survey, 76% of Americans save money on insurance when they shop around…but only 17% actually do it. 
That’s probably because comparison shopping for insurance is a hassle. Filling out form after form, spending hours on the phone, not to mention the email spam—it’s no wonder the average person gets a quote or two and gives up.
Instead of wasting a bunch of time and money, let insurance genius and licensed broker Jerry do the work for you. Sign up in less than a minute, and Jerry will find competitive quotes from top insurance companies for you to compare.
For even more savings, Jerry can help you bundle your home and auto insurance policies.
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