Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in Minnesota?

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Minnesota residents experience a fair share of natural disasters each year. The most common—severe storms and floods—can cause significant damage to homes.
Luckily, the state’s inland location removes it from the threat of hurricanes or tidal waves, and it also sits in an area of low seismic risk.
If you’re a Minnesota homeowner and concerned about natural disasters, it pays to know what your insurance policy covers. In this article, home and car insurance comparison app, Jerry, has everything you need to know about home insurance and natural disasters in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. 

What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover? 

A homeowners insurance policy offers coverages that help pay for or repair your home and belongings if they are damaged due to a named peril. It may also cover liability for injuries to third parties or damage to their property.
Typical homeowners insurance policies only offer coverage for damage caused by certain perils, such as wind or hail. But, it’s important to understand that there are different types of policies that protect different things. 

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: The most basic type of homeowners policy, an HO-1 only covers damage to your home at its actual cash value. It may or may not cover personal belongings. Many insurance carriers have stopped offering this type of policy.
HO-2: A step above HO-1, an HO-2 policy covers damage to your home at its replacement cost and covers personal property at its actual cash value.
HO-3: Also known as special form coverage, HO-3 is the most popular type of homeowners insurance. This policy covers your home at replacement cost and personal property at cash value, and it includes liability and medical payment coverage for individuals injured on your property.
HO-4: Intended for renters of apartments, homes, and townhomes, HO4 policies cover personal property at replacement cost. This typically includes damages caused by most natural disasters.
HO-5: Often referred to as comprehensive insurance, an HO-5 includes all of the benefits of an HO-3, and personal belongings are covered at replacement cost as well.
If you’re having trouble understanding what this all means, check out the handy chart 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?

Most homeowners policies cover the same 16 perils. Still, it’s important to read the fine print to understand exactly what your homeowners does and does not pay for.  
These are the coverages you’ll likely find: 
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Hail and windstorms
  • Damage caused by vehicles 
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
  • Falling objects 
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet 
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
  • Water heater cracking 
  • Damage from electrical current 
  • Frozen pipes  
Take careful note of what you find. Because some policies (especially HO-1s) don’t cover all the listed perils, you must understand what yours doesn't cover so you can protect yourself in other ways. 
Key Takeaway Pay careful attention to what is included in your homeowners policy. Common disasters, like earthquakes and floods, are often not covered. 

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Minnesota? 

June, July, and August are usually very busy months for natural disasters in Minnesota—and tornadoes and floods are incredibly common. But Minnesota residents have to cope with harsh weather year-round:
Tornadoes
While the boundaries of Tornado Alley aren’t clearly defined, Minnesota has been included more and more in recent years. Twisters occur every month between March and November, and the state averages more than 45 tornadoes a year.
Damage from tornadoes can be excessive, including the destruction of homes, tossed vehicles, uprooted trees, and even death.
Most homeowners insurance will help repair or rebuild your home if the wind from a tornado damages it, but make sure your policy includes windstorm damage, just to be safe. 

Floods

Nicknamed “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota boasts over 11,842 lakes larger than 10 acres, as well as 69,200 miles of streams and rivers. It should come as no surprise that floods are a common occurrence.  
In addition to widespread flooding, flash floods are often caused by heavy localized rain. In the last 20 years, Minnesota has experienced 11 historical mega-rain events, in which 6 inches of rain covered more than 1,000 miles.    
Homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods, so Minnesota residents should purchase their own flood insurance. You can get a policy from a private broker, or through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 

Winter storms

Minnesota spends a large portion of the year covered with snow; the state averages 110 days annually with at least one inch of snow cover.
In addition, residents often experience freezing rain, sleet, ice, blizzards, and frigid temperatures during winter months.
The Lake Superior Highlands tend to get hit the hardest, but winter weather is harsh across the state. Not surprisingly, such extremes can cause serious damage to your home.
Except for HO-1 coverage, most homeowners policies should cover damage from winter storms in Minnesota.

Severe storms

Thunderstorms occur throughout the year in Minnesota. Though most are harmless, severe storms can bring heavy rains, lightning, strong wind, and hail.
The Twin Cities were hit by a powerful storm in June 2013, getting almost 8 inches of rain in just 24 hours. The precipitation caused flash floods and nearly $18 million in damage. As a result, a federal disaster was declared.
Typically, homeowners insurance would cover much of the storm damage to your home—though, in the case of a federal disaster, federal aid may pay for repairs to your residence.

Wildfires

In the past, Minnesota averaged about 1,500 wildfires a year. Recently, that number has nearly doubled.
Unfortunately, the uptick in wildfires can be almost entirely attributed to human activity, such as smoking, campfires, and the burning of debris.
What does that mean for your home? If your house falls in the path of a wildfire, your homeowners insurance should cover damage, no matter what type of policy you have. 
Key Takeaway: Homeowners insurance should cover most of the natural disasters common in Minnesota. However, not all policies are the same. Make sure yours offers all the coverages you need before it’s too late. 

How to file a home insurance claim

Filing an insurance claim is likely the last thing you want to deal with after a natural disaster has damaged your home. But don’t worry: the process is straightforward. Here’s what you’ll need to do: 
  • Take photographs and make a list of damaged possessions
  • Call your insurance company and let them know you want to make a claim. An adjuster will review your case
  • Figure out how much you paid for damaged items. It helps if you have receipts
  • Complete the claim paperwork provided by your insurer 
  • Go over the damages with your adjuster. Take your time and make sure you don’t miss anything
  • Get a variety of estimates to make sure you get a fair settlement
  • Collect your check and get started on repairs 
Claims go much more smoothly when homeowners are familiar with the terms of their insurance policy before disaster hits. Just one more reason you should check out that fine print!

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

No matter if you’re a first-time homeowner or you’ve been in the same house for 15 years—everyone wants to save on homeowners and car insurance.
There are many ways to find great coverage at a reasonable price, like asking for discounts. But we think the best way is to compare quotes from multiple insurance companies.
Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes for bundling your home and car insurance in under a minute.
 If you decide to swap, they make it easy: Jerry takes care of all the paperwork and phone calls and can even assist you in canceling your old policy!
 “I had a great experience using Jerry for the first time. Once my boyfriend buys his new car, we’ll use Jerry together to make sure he doesn’t end up overpaying on new insurance!”  —Stephanie S.
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