Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Maryland?

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Maryland doesn’t have much in the way of natural disasters. Still, the Free State is prone to flooding, and the occasional hurricane or tornado isn’t unheard of, either. 
No matter how safe your state is, it pays to be aware of what your homeowners insurance does and does not cover. For instance, did you know that standard policies usually cover fire and wind damage but not floods? 
This guide from car and homeowners insurance app Jerry will tell you everything you need to know about home insurance and natural disasters in Maryland, so you can be prepared. 
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?  

Homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and possessions caused by specific perils, such as lightning and hail. It may also cover medical costs for third parties if they get injured on your property. 
However, it’s important to note that many acts of nature, such as floods, are not covered by homeowners insurance.  
These are the most common types of policies and what they include:

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage 

HO-1: HO-1 is the most basic type of home insurance. It covers damage to your home at actual cash value, but rarely includes coverage for personal possessions. 
HO-2: HO-2 insurance covers damage to your home at replacement cost and home at actual cash value. In addition, it also covers a wider range of perils than an HO-1. 
HO-3: HO-3 policies are the most common type of homeowners insurance. They include damage to your home replacement value and personal goods at cash value, plus liability and medical coverage for third parties on your property.
HO-4: HO-4 policies, also called renters policies, are for tenants of an apartment, house, or condo. They cover your possessions at replacement value—including damage caused by natural disasters.  
HO-5: HO-5 policies, or comprehensive policies, offer the best protection for your home. It’s similar to an HO-3, but both damages to the home and personal possessions are covered at replacement value. 
Not making sense? Check out this simple breakdown.
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? 

In general, most homeowners policies cover the same 16 named perils. Coverages can vary by carrier and location, though, so it’s important to note what your policy does and does not cover. 
You may be covered for: 
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Fire and lightning
  • Smoke
  • Explosions
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Vandalism
  • Theft or malicious mischief
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
  • Freezing of plumbing, heating, or air conditioning
  • Accidental cracking of plumbing, heating, or air conditioning
  • Falling objects
Conventional homeowners insurance policies do NOT cover earthquakes and floods. Both require the purchase of separate policies. As a resident of flood-prone Maryland, a flood policy is something you should look into—if you haven’t already!
Key Takeaway It pays to know what perils your home insurance includes, even in the safest states. Natural disasters can happen anytime, and you want to make sure you’re covered. 

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Maryland? 

Maryland isn’t the most disaster-prone state—there were only 34 recorded natural disasters between 1953 and 2019. Still, they see their fair share of floods, and there’s even been a tornado or two. This is what’s covered and what’s not in the Free State:

Hurricanes

Hurricanes rarely make landfall in Maryland—only two have made landfall since 1878. Still, the effects of tropical storms are felt every year (there have been 136 of those since 1955). 
Tropical storms often come with heavy rain, high winds, and flooding that damage homes and infrastructure. 
There are many ways you can protect your home, such as installing storm shutters, but the best way is to have the appropriate insurance coverage. 

Floods

As a coastal state, Maryland experiences a fair amount of flooding. After storms, both general and flash floods frequently occur along the tributaries and bays—not to mention the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers. 
And these floods can be dangerous. 
In 2018, eight inches of rain fell on Ellicott City in two hours, destroying historic buildings, cars, and businesses, and killing one person. 
Of course, if those business owners weren’t insured for floods, then their damages weren’t covered. That’s why it’s vital to be aware of the policies you hold. 

Severe storms

Thunderstorms are a constant threat in Maryland. However, they occur most frequently between July and August. There is roughly one storm every five days during peak season, with an average of 59 inches of rain annually.
One of the worst storms to hit Maryland was the North American Derecho of 2012, with 77mph winds and non-stop lightning strikes. Power outages and damages reached almost three million dollars. 
In severe storms, lightning and high winds can cause serious damage to your home—both of which should be covered by homeowners insurance. 

Winter storms

It is common for Maryland to experience several winter storms each year, with an average of 22 inches of snow across the state. Typically, at least one storm drops five inches of snow in a day—on occasion, more than ten. 
Although most bad weather occurs in February, it is possible to see it as early as October or as late as March. 
Winter storms can bring many of the same problems as thunderstorms, including high winds and heavy precipitation. Most of the damage should be covered by insurance. 

Tornadoes

The Free State experiences an average of three tornadoes a year, usually between May and July. The most destructive on record, an F-4, occurred in 2001 and damaged nearly 860 homes. 
Even though tornadoes don’t often happen in Maryland, they can cause a lot of damage. Homeowners must be aware of the potential danger and take necessary precautions, including appropriate insurance coverages. 

Extreme heat

Maryland experiences an average of ten days a year with dangerous heat levels. According to the EPA, this number will likely grow as the effects of climate change become more apparent. 
Unfortunately, heatwaves can be a lot more devastating than just feeling sweaty for a few days. When exposed to high heat, it’s possible to fall prey to dehydration and other heat-related illnesses—and your home can suffer, too. Heat can cause paint, wood, and roofing materials to blister and crack. 
Unfortunately, most homeowners insurance does NOT cover heat-related damage. 
Key Takeaway Homeowners policies vary from company to company and location to location. Read the fine print and be aware of what is included in yours. If necessary, it may be possible to add on additional coverages for a fee.

How to file a home insurance claim

Filing a home insurance claim after a natural disaster is a straightforward process—as long as you know what you’re doing. Take some time to review how your insurance company handles things, but in general, you can expect something like this:
  • Take photos of the damage to your home or possessions
  • Inform your insurance company that you want to submit a claim. They will assign you an adjuster
  • Document what you paid for each item—it helps if you have receipts
  • Complete paperwork provided by your insurance company
  • Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage
  • Get repair estimates from local shops to find the best price
  • Begin repairs as soon as you receive your payout
If you’re not sure of how things work or what you should be doing, your insurance agent can help guide you through the process!

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of flooding, such as Maryland, it’s vital that you have the right insurance coverage. That means that in addition to your regular homeowners policy, you also need flood insurance (which you can get through your regular provider or through FEMA). 
Worried that you’re not getting the best rate?
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