Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Michigan?

It’s important to know what natural disasters your home insurance will cover in Michigan so you can be prepared for the unexpected.
Written by Melanie Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
, it’s reasonable to expect a natural disaster will occur at some point, especially when it comes to floods, severe storms, and tornadoes. Depending on your coverage level, it’s likely that your home insurance covers fire, windstorms, lightning, and hail, but you’ll usually need to find additional coverage for flood damage.
Homeowners insurance is meant to protect your home after unexpected losses and damages. For that reason, it’s understandable why many people assume severe natural disasters will automatically warrant the coverage they need. Unfortunately, depending on the disaster, that’s not always the case. For many people, this realization comes too late—after they’ve already lost their home and belongings to a natural disaster.
Of course, while part of the reason natural disasters can be so damaging is their unexpected nature, you can still get a general sense of what natural disasters to reasonably expect depending on what region you live in. Knowing what disasters you’re more likely to face in Michigan can help you choose a home insurance policy that gives you the protection you need.
Read on to learn more about home insurance coverage and natural disasters that can occur in Michigan, courtesy of
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?  

Homeowners insurance covers your home and your belongings after losses or damages when caused by covered perils. A standard homeowners insurance policy will also include
personal liability coverage
and loss of use coverage, as well as medical payments for someone if they are injured on your property.
What specifically your homeowners insurance covers depends on your coverage level and the named perils that it includes.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: This is the least-extensive type of homeowners insurance, and it covers only your house. This won’t include additional structures on your property, nor will it cover your personal belongings, loss of use, or personal liability. The covered perils it includes tend to be more limited as well. 
HO-2: The next level up is an HO-2 policy. This, too, will cover your home, and protection will also extend to personal property when loss or damage is due to a named peril. 
HO-3: When most people think of a standard homeowners insurance policy, they’re usually thinking of an
HO-3 policy
. This policy includes coverage for your house as well as additional structures (like a detached garage, shed, or fencing), personal belongings, personal liability, loss of use, and medical payments.
Your home, under an HO-3 policy, will have protection based on an open perils policy—that means it offers coverage as long as the cause of damage isn’t specifically listed as an exclusion. Personal property, however, will only cover named perils under an HO-3 plan.
HO-5: An HO-5 policy is the most extensive homeowners insurance policy. Your home and personal property are all protected under an open perils policy. That comes at a cost, though, as it’s also the most expensive coverage.
Here’s a simple breakdown.
Policy type
What’s covered
Open perils?
Main structure only
Named perils only
Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments
Named perils only
Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments
Main structure - open perils, personal property - listed perils only
Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments

What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?

One of the most important parts of your homeowners insurance policy will be the named perils section. Under HO-1, HO-2, and HO-3 policies, if the cause of loss or damage isn’t a named peril in your policy, you won’t be able to receive coverage. They also tend to vary from policy to policy and company to company.
This makes it extremely important to read the language of your policy closely and to pay attention to any exclusions.
named perils
in a homeowners insurance policy include:
  • Fire
  • Smoke
  • Lightning
  • Hail
  • Windstorms
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Theft
  • Damage caused by aircrafts
  • Damage caused by vehicles
  • Vandalism
  • Riots
  • Falling objects (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet (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)
  • Frozen pipes (not usually covered by HO-1)
Keep in mind the types of perils you’d want protection from in your policy, including natural disasters. As you review the named perils in your potential homeowners insurance policy, you’ll also want to pay close attention to what isn’t there
For example, most standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, so this protection usually requires purchasing additional coverage.
Key Takeaway What your homeowners insurance covers will depend on your policy’s named perils and level of coverage.

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Michigan? 

In Michigan, the most commonly occurring natural disasters are flooding, severe storms, and tornadoes. Wildfires and winter storms are additional disasters you’ll want to be prepared for. Less frequent is the chance for earthquakes.
Here’s a look at natural disasters that can occur in Michigan and whether they’re covered under a standard home insurance policy.


Flooding is one of the most commonly occurring natural disasters in Michigan. It often occurs after periods of heavy, extended rainfall. Climate change is expected to increase precipitation in Michigan, increasing the likelihood of future flooding events. 
One of Michigan’s most severe floods was the Detroit flooding that occurred in 2014 after a storm that brought heavy rainfall with it. This flood caused $1.8 billion in damages. This occurred just a year after the Grand River flood that caused an estimated $43 million in damages to the Grand Rapids area.
Since most homeowners insurance policies don’t include floods as a covered peril, it’s a good idea to consider purchasing flood insurance. You can find flood insurance policies through FEMA’s
National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) or a private company.

Severe storms

Another common natural disaster familiar to Michigan residents is the frequency of severe storms, which can wreak all kinds of havoc on a house. They could bring with them hail, lightning, high winds, and even power surges.
Thankfully, it’s common for many of the destructive elements related to severe storms to be included as perils in homeowners insurance policies. Still, policies do vary, so it’s a good idea to read yours carefully to verify those protections are there.


Severe storms can also bring about the right conditions for tornadoes.
Sometimes, tornadoes might be named specifically as a peril, while other times, they’re often included under windstorm protection. 
MORE: How to respond to a tornado warning while you’re driving

Winter storms

Winter storms are essentially a given in Michigan, especially for the northern part of the state. 
One of Michigan’s most memorable blizzards occurred in 1978: nearly three feet of snow fell for about three days, killing an estimated 20 people, leaving more than 100,000 vehicles stranded on roadways, and about 400,000 homes and businesses without power.
Along with those blizzards, ice storms, and low wind chills can come substantial damage to your house. You might experience burst or frozen pipes, or roof damage from the weight of snow and ice. Most Michigan homeowners insurance policies should include winter storm-related coverages but read your policy closely to make sure.


According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan experiences
10,000 to 12,000 wildfires
each year, which can decimate thousands of acres and destroy homes in the process.
Fortunately, most standard home insurance policies will cover fire-related damage.


Earthquakes aren’t unheard of in Michigan, but they’re not exactly common, either. Several inactive faults pass through the state. Those that do occur tend to be low-magnitude. 
If a high-magnitude earthquake did occur, earthquake coverage is rarely included in a standard homeowners insurance policy and usually requires additional insurance. 
MORE: Does my home insurance cover earthquake damage?
Key Takeaway Most standard homeowners insurance policies will cover damages that arise from severe storms, tornadoes, and fires. When it comes to flooding and earthquakes, you’ll likely need additional coverage.

How to file a home insurance claim

You hope this worst-case scenario doesn’t happen, but if a natural disaster does damage your home, how do you file a claim?
Here are the steps you can take to file a homeowners insurance claim:
  • Document the damage. Take pictures and make notes on the extent of the damage to your home. Create a list of damaged and lost belongings. 
  • Tell your insurance company about the disaster and resulting damage. How you should file your claim may vary depending on your insurance company, but your policy documents should usually outline the necessary steps. Once you submit your claim, an adjuster will be assigned to the claim to assess your damages.
  • Make any necessary emergency repairs to keep your home safe from further damage in the meantime. Save receipts so your insurance company can reimburse you for covered repairs.
  • Complete claim paperwork from your insurance provider as needed.
  • An adjuster will be sent to evaluate the damage. Sometimes, you don’t need to be home, depending on where the damage is, but it’s still a good idea to walk through the damage with them if you can. Be meticulous! These are your home and your belongings, and the purpose of your insurance policy is to cover damage appropriately when it occurs.  
  • Get repair quotes from trusted contractors. This will help you prepare for the settlement when it comes. It’s a good idea to get multiple quotes, ideally at least three, so you can feel confident about the price ranges that are being given to you.
  • Review your settlement carefully. You’ll get a settlement offer from your adjuster. While you might feel pressure to sign it, you want to verify you’re satisfied with the coverage amount being offered to you. If you think the offer is less than what your coverage warrants, you should ask your insurance company to revisit your claim.
  • Receive your payment from your insurance company so you can begin repairing your home.
Before a natural disaster rushes in, make sure you understand your home insurance policy and what it covers so you know what to expect from your provider if you ever do need to make a claim.

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