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The most common natural disasters in Ohio are floods, tornadoes, severe storms, winter storms, and landslides. Out of these, floods are by far the most common and responsible for the most damage. Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance will not cover flood damage.
Many people assume that their homeowners insurance will cover damages from natural disasters, especially if those disasters are particularly common where they live. This can be a dangerous assumption as many common natural disasters are not covered by normal homeowners insurance. In fact, standard insurance protects against a very limited range of disasters. Unless you have purchased additional insurance, it is very likely that your home is not adequately protected.
It's extremely important to know exactly what types of damage your insurance company will cover and to prepare accordingly. You don’t want to find out that you have no flood coverage when you’re already standing in three feet of water!
It can be a nasty shock to find out you are not as protected as you thought but don’t panic! The first step to getting prepared is finding out exactly how unprepared you really are. Fortunately, insurance comparison app, licensed broker, and disaster readiness guru Jerry is here to help!
We’ll break down how homeowners insurance in Ohio works, which natural disasters it covers, and which ones it does not. Once you know where the gaps in your coverage are, you can look into getting additional insurance to ensure you’re fully protected.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?
Homeowners insurance is a type of insurance that covers a variety of damages involving your home, as well as liability coverage, loss of use coverage, and medical payments to others. Exactly what damages are covered depends on what level of home insurance you have, what coverages it includes, and what perils it covers.
Levels of homeowners insurance coverage
HO-1: The least extensive coverage. It provides dwelling coverage for your house only (no secondary structures) and does not include personal property, loss of use, or liability coverage. HO-1 also only covers damages from a limited list of named perils.
HO-2: An HO-2 policy includes dwelling coverage for your primary structure and personal property coverage. Like HO-1, HO-2 only covers damages if they result from named perils.
HO-3: An HO-3 policy is the most common type of homeowners insurance. It includes dwelling coverage, other structures coverage, personal property coverage, loss of use coverage, liability coverage, and medical payments coverage.
An HO-3 policy is sometimes called all-risk coverage because it is an open perils policy. It covers damages to your home from any peril, not just named ones. Don’t get too excited, though; most HO-3 policies include exclusions for perils that they specifically do not cover.
An HO-3 policy is only open perils when it comes to your house. Personal property is still only protected from named perils.
HO-5: An HO-5 policy is the most extensive coverage option. It includes everything that HO-3 has, plus it has open perils protection for your personal property as well.
Here’s an easy breakdown of policy types.
|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|
What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?
Some home insurance policies are open peril policies, meaning they cover damages from any kind of event (other than those specifically excluded in the policy).
If a policy is not open peril, it probably only covers damages from named perils. This means that the policy will only pay for damages caused by events specifically named in the policy.
Which perils you are protected from will depend on your specific policy. Read over it carefully to see what is covered. Generally speaking, most home insurance policies cover at least the following perils:
- Volcanic eruption
- Riot or civil commotion
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Damage caused by aircrafts
- Theft of malicious mischief
- 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)
Notice that there are quite a few things not on this list. Flood damage, for instance, is not covered by standard insurance. This is a serious problem if you live in Ohio!
Named perils are the types of hazards that standard insurance covers, but there are other types of insurance that you can purchase separately.
Key Takeaway Standard homeowners insurance is complex and has many gaps in its coverage. To be fully protected, you’ll need to purchase additional separate coverage.
Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Ohio?
The most common types of disasters in the Buckeye State are floods, tornadoes, severe storms, winter storms, and landslides.
Of these, the ones that should concern homeowners most are severe storms and the floods they cause. A strong lake effect brings Ohio sudden storms, dumping huge amounts of precipitation on the area. In the winter, this can lead to blizzards and deep snow. As the snow melts, it can cause flooding. In the warmer months, all that rain can also easily lead to flooding.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the more common disasters in Ohio and which ones are covered by insurance.
Floods are always going to be the biggest issue for Ohio in terms of natural disasters. Not only are they extremely common, but they also cause catastrophic levels of property damage. The repairs needed for extensive flood damage are staggeringly expensive.
Flood damage is so costly, in fact, that insurance companies generally refuse to cover it in their policies. You will not find any standard home insurance policies that cover flood damage.
You can purchase flood protection separately from your normal policy. Most homeowners in Ohio get their flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a program run by the federal government. This is usually the best choice for coverage since flood insurance in the private sector can be very expensive.
Tornadoes are an unfortunate and familiar part of life in Ohio. The state is hit with an average of 19 tornadoes each year. In recent decades, the frequency of these storms has increased sharply. If that trend continues, tornadoes may become an even more common problem for Ohio.
While tornadoes are not specifically listed as a named peril, windstorms are. Homeowners can usually put in a claim for tornado damage under the windstorm peril.
Winter storms are a serious problem in Ohio. During a blizzard, winds can reach up to 40mph, and the wind chill can drop the temperature to -60° Fahrenheit. The frozen lake effect rolls in on these strong winds and buries whole areas in snow. The resulting wind, water, and frost damages can be catastrophic.
Your insurance may or may not cover these damages, depending on your policy. HO-1 policies usually will not pay for winter storm damages. HO-2 policies often include the weight of snow, ice, or sleet, as well as frozen pipes as named perils. Check your policy closely to see if these items are named.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance should cover tornadoes and winter storms, but you’ll need additional coverage for floods.
How to file a home insurance claim
If your insurance does cover your natural disaster damages, you’ll still have to submit a claim. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Document your losses. Make a list of all damages, including lost personal property. Take pictures when possible.
- Contact your insurance company and inform them that you will be submitting a claim. They’ll assign an insurance adjuster to evaluate your claim.
- Determine your total losses. Take into account the cost of any damage or destroyed items as well as structural damages. You may need to estimate, just be as accurate as possible.
- File your claim. Your adjuster will supply you with the appropriate paperwork. Fill it out and return it.
- Meet with the adjuster. The two of you will examine the extent of the damage together.
- Get repair estimates. Have a contractor assess the damage and give you a quote for the repairs. Knowing how much it will cost will help you negotiate with your insurance company.
- Collect your funds to begin repairing your home.
How to save money on homeowners and car insurance
The number one way to save on any type of insurance is to compare prices from multiple providers. You should get quotes from at least three insurance companies, but more is better.
Different companies will offer you different rates, and there is a good chance you can get similar coverage for a lower premium.
Getting quotes from multiple providers can be time-consuming and requires a lot of paperwork, so you’ll want to use the insurance comparison app, Jerry, to do the legwork for you.
Jerry compares quotes from over 50 top providers in as little as 45 seconds. All you have to do is download the app, enter your information, and then pick the quote that works best for you. Jerry users save an average of $887 a year on car insurance alone!
Another great way to save on home insurance is by bundling your policy together with your car insurance. This will usually earn you a discount on both policies!
“Jerry was wonderful! I used it for my auto and renters policies. I trusted it so much that I signed up my homeowners insurance under Jerry as well. All of the agents are amazingly nice and knowledgeable.” —Mary Y.
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