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Louisiana homeowners are very familiar with nature’s extremes: they experience an average of two declared disasters every year.
2020 in particular was one of the worst years on record in the Pelican State, with multiple hurricanes and tropical storms resulting in a whopping six declared disasters.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to natural disasters and homeowners insurance: many homeowners don’t know what, or how much, their policies cover.
Don’t get struck by misfortune only to discover that your homeowners policy won’t cover the damage. This guide from insurance comparison app Jerry will tell you everything you need to know about natural disasters in Louisiana.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?
Homeowners insurance is a collection of coverages that protect you and your belongings if specific perils damage the house. It may also help cover your costs if another person is injured on your property or their belongings are damaged.
Most policies cover damage caused by events like wind, fire, lightning, and hail, but other things—like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes—may not be covered depending on where you live.
Levels of homeowners insurance coverage
HO-1: also known as basic homeowners insurance, an HO-1 policy covers your home at actual cash value. It does not usually protect personal belongings, though you may be able to add coverage depending on the company.
HO-2: a step up from basic homeowners insurance, an HO-2 policy covers your home at replacement cost and personal property at actual cash value.
HO-3: the most common form of homeowners insurance, an HO-3 policy is also known as special form coverage. This type of policy will cover your home at replacement cost and your personal property at actual cash value, plus liability and medical payments coverage for individuals injured on your property.
HO-4: HO-4 policies are intended for people who rent or lease apartments, condos, or townhomes. Though not a homeowners policy, this does cover personal belongings damaged during a natural disaster.
HO-5: sometimes called a comprehensive or “open perils” policy, an HO-5 offers the highest level of coverage available to homeowners. It is similar to an HO-3 policy, but your home and personal belongings are both covered at their replacement cost.
Here’s another way to understand the differences:
|Policy type||What’s covered||Open perils?|
|HO-1||Main structure only||Named perils only|
|HO-2||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Named perils only|
|HO-3||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Main structure—open perils, personal property—listed perils only|
|HO-5||Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Yes|
Note that “open perils” means that the policy will cover damage from any event not named as an exclusion.
What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?
In a disaster-prone state like Louisiana, it’s important to understand which perils are covered under your insurance policy. Even if you think you know, check out the fine print—you may find you don’t have all the protection you thought.
These are the perils you should look for:
- Fire and lightning
- Theft or malicious mischief
- Riot or civil commotion
- Hail and windstorms
- Volcanic eruption
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Damage caused by aircraft
The following perils are usually not covered by HO-1 level policies:
- Falling objects
- Damage from electrical current
- Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
- Frozen pipes
- Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
- Water heater cracking
Notice that earthquakes and floods—two natural disasters known to occur in Louisiana—are not on the list. Many people don’t realize that certain disasters such as these will require separate policies.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance coverage depends on your policy type and the specific perils listed on your policy.
Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Louisiana?
Louisiana sees a lot of natural disasters each year, but not a lot of variety. Almost all the catastrophes homeowners deal with result from floods, hurricanes, and severe storms. Residents on the Gulf Coast have it the worst, but trouble can occur across the state.
Let’s look at some of the most common natural disasters in Louisiana and see what’s covered (and what isn’t).
Hurricanes are one of the most common disasters Louisiana homeowners deal with—in 2021 alone, the state was hit by eight separate storms.
In 2020, Hurricane Laura pummeled the state with 150-mph winds and 10-foot-high storm surges that damaged many homes. Those in the storm path of a hurricane can deal with high winds and rain for potentially weeks on end.
Typical home insurance policies will cover any damage from the wind and rain—but not the flooding—that comes with a hurricane.
It’s important to note that Louisiana policies all have special windstorm and hail deductibles, usually capped at about 5% of your dwelling coverage. State laws say your insurance company can only charge one such deductible each year.
Hurricanes and floods usually go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that Louisiana sees its fair share of high water. In just one example, the state was hammered with 15 inches of rain over 12 hours in May 2021, resulting in flood damage to over 2,500 homes.
As most homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage, it’s essential that you purchase a separate flood policy—especially in Louisiana. While you can get a flood policy through a private carrier, homeowners who live in one of 23,000 designated communities can buy it through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Louisiana is firmly part of tornado alley—the state experiences approximately 37 twisters each year and ranks third in the nation for tornado occurrences.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage in the Pelican State? In most cases, yes. Unlike floods or earthquakes, tornadoes don’t require special coverage.
Depending on your policy, insurance should help you repair and rebuild and might even cover temporary housing expenses after a twister.
Earthquakes are rare in Louisiana, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. For example, the state was hit with a 3.1 magnitude trembler by the Texas border in April 2021.
If you’re nervous about earthquakes and want to make sure your home is covered for damage, you’ll need to buy a separate insurance earthquake policy. Earthquake insurance usually covers your dwelling and additional structures, personal property, and additional living expenses. The deductible is typically about 10-25% of the dwelling’s policy limit.
Due to its lack of barrier islands and wetlands, Louisiana is more prone to get hit by severe weather than other states. Since the mid-1850s no fewer than 54 hurricanes have made landfall.
In addition, residents deal with hundreds of storms every year, many of them classified as severe. Luckily, most home insurance policies cover wind, lighting, rainfall, and hail damage.
As previously mentioned, however, they do not cover damage from flooding ensuing from a rainstorm.
What goes along with severe storms? Power outages. Louisiana sees its fair share of weather-induced blackouts.
In recent history, Hurricane Laura left nearly 900,000 people without power. A decade earlier, Katrina impacted more than 2 million.
While a short-term power outage is inconvenient, a long-term outage can seriously impact your daily life. It can cost you hundreds of dollars in spoiled food alone.
Many policies will cover food loss, but it depends on your company and coverage level. More importantly, losses from power outages may not be covered at all if the outage didn’t originate on your property.
Key Takeaway Damage from tornadoes and severe storms is most often covered by home insurance. Flooding from severe weather and earthquakes require separate policies.
How to file a home insurance claim
If your home or property is damaged due to a natural disaster, filing a claim is relatively easy. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Photograph and inventory damaged possessions.
- Let your insurance company know that you want to submit a claim. An adjuster will review the evidence.
- Determine how much you paid for each item—this is easier if you still have receipts.
- Fill out any claim paperwork required by your insurer.
- Meet with the adjuster to discuss the damage. Be sure to go through all the rooms—you don’t want to miss out on money because you rushed.
- Consult with local contractors to get a repair estimate. Your insurance company may provide a list of preferred vendors.
- Start rebuilding as soon as you receive the funds from your insurance company.
Filing a claim will be easier if you’ve already read through your insurance policy and understand how the process works.
How to save money on homeowners and car insurance
The best insurance isn’t usually the cheapest, and it’s usually not a good idea to raise your deductible or reduce your coverage to save a few bucks.
Luckily, it’s easier than ever to save money on a homeowners policy while also protecting the things that are important to you.
Jerry is a great place to start if you want to save money on homeowners insurance. A licensed broker, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new homeowners insurance.
Jerry can even help you cancel an existing policy upon request.
“Super cheap! Jerry saved me over $4500 during the entire year. The money really adds up.” —D’Shawn G.
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