Which Natural Disasters Does Home Insurance Cover in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma faces severe natural disasters every year, so it’s important to know which ones your insurance covers.
Written by Jessie Devine
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Jun 01, 2022
Oklahoma
is known for tornadoes and wind-spread fires, but the state also experiences annual floods and earthquakes. Standard homeowners insurance will protect your home against wind, fire, hail, and lightning, but you’ll need separate policies for earthquakes and flooding.
Understanding the exact terms of your homeowners insurance policy can be difficult. According to a 2020 Policygenius study, over 50% of Americans inaccurately believe that homeowners insurance covers flooding, and around 80% falsely believe that homeowners insurance covers earthquake damage. 
This means that when those disasters strike, many Americans will be left without help.
Oklahoma faces severe natural disasters every year, so if you own a home there, it’s crucial to know what your homeowners insurance policy covers. Home and
car insurance
comparison app
Jerry
can help. Read on to learn everything you need to know about homeowners insurance and natural disasters in Oklahoma.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?  

A basic homeowners insurance policy protects your home by paying for repairs if the damage resulted from specific, named causes. 
Higher-level homeowners insurance covers your personal property and includes
liability coverage
and medical payments coverage for visitors to your home. The coverage amount and perils covered differ with each level of coverage, so consider each carefully.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: An HO-1 policy is the bare minimum homeowners insurance policy. HO-1 policies are so limited, many states don’t allow insurance companies to sell them. An HO-1 only covers your primary dwelling against a limited number of named perils. These usually include lightning, fire, hail, and volcanic eruptions. 
HO-2: The next level of homeowners insurance is an HO-2 policy, which covers damage to your home and your personal property. This policy is also quite limited, covering damage from only the perils named in the policy.  
HO-3: The most common type of homeowners insurance policy is an
HO-3 policy
. An HO-3 covers the main structure of your home, your personal property inside the home, and additional structures on the property (think outbuildings like a greenhouse or a shop). 
A standard HO-3 will also include liability, loss of use, and medical payments coverage.
For someone in Oklahoma, an HO-3 policy is a solid option. The typical HO-3 is an open perils policy, which covers any peril except those listed specifically as exclusions. 
Note that at the HO-3 level, only your personal dwelling is protected under the open perils rule. Your personal property and additional structures are only protected against named perils.
HO-5: The HO-5 is considered the gold standard of homeowners insurance. It’s the highest level of policy, as it covers both your home and your personal belongings under the open perils rule. But get ready for higher premiums—since the HO-5 offers the most protection, it’s also the most expensive.
Let’s rephrase the information this way:
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?

Named perils are the hazards that an insurance policy specifically lists as covered. If you don’t have an open perils policy, your insurance will only cover named perils—so it’s important to know what those are. 
To find out exactly what your policy covers, you’ll have to read your policy terms—but generally speaking, you can expect coverage for the following
16 named perils
:
  • Hail and wind
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Damage caused by vehicles 
  • Damage caused by aircraft
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Frozen pipes (not usually covered by HO-1)
  • Falling objects (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)
Be sure to note what isn’t on the list. Besides tornadoes and fires, some of the most common natural disasters in Oklahoma are flooding and earthquakes, which aren’t covered by homeowners insurance.
Key Takeaway What your homeowners insurance covers depends on the policy level and the perils named by your policy. Flooding and earthquakes are never covered!

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in Oklahoma? 

According to FEMA, the state of Oklahoma ranks 1st for tornadoes, 3rd for wildfires, and 3rd overall for Presidential Disaster Declarations. The state has a Hazard Risk Score of 66.87 out of 100, putting it in the top 16% for hazard risk in the US. 
This is mostly a result of the intense tornadoes and wildfires Oklahoma experiences, but it also accounts for the state’s floods and earthquakes.

Wildfires

The frequency and intensity of large wildfires are increasing in all fire-prone states, but in Oklahoma, the escalation is jarring. Megafires (fires that burn over 100,000 acres) used to be rare, with just two occurring in Oklahoma from 1997 to 2015. But 2016, 2017, and 2018 each saw their own megafire, and the occurrences aren’t slowing down.
During the fire season, around 640,800 homes with a combined value of $24 billion are exposed to fire and at risk in Oklahoma. 
Considering a combination of climate, weather, and vegetation encourages mega-wildfires to spread across the state, how can you protect your home and belongings? Invest in a good homeowners insurance policy
Does homeowners insurance cover fire damage? Yes. Always check your policy for specifics, but standard homeowners insurance policies cover fire damage.

Tornadoes

Oklahoma is the heart of Tornado Alley. The state ranks #1 on the US Tornado Index, experiencing an average of 57 tornadoes each year. Repairing tornado damage to your home costs on average between $4,500 to $17,000, so you don’t want to be caught without insurance.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage? Yes. Although tornadoes are not usually a named peril, most homeowners insurance policies name wind, hail, and lightning. Since these are common causes of tornado damage, your policy is likely to cover you.

Floods

Flooding is a common natural disaster in the US as a whole and Oklahoma in particular. Major cities like
Tulsa
and
Oklahoma City
have experienced devastating floods in the past, spurring the state to spend over $2 billion on flood control dams in 61 counties.
Even with Oklahoma’s leading flood control infrastructure in place, it’s a good idea to buy insurance to protect your home. 
Flooding is never covered by standard homeowners insurance, so you have to buy it separately. To find out more and purchase flood insurance, check out the
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
, run by FEMA.

Earthquakes

Since 2009, Oklahoma has experienced a surge in seismic activity—even surpassing California for the number of high-magnitude earthquakes in recent years. 
The increase in earthquakes is related to fracking waste disposal via injection wells, which increased dramatically during the same period. 
No matter the cause, earthquakes can cause massive amounts of damage to your home. Unfortunately, earthquakes are not covered by homeowners insurance
You’ll have to purchase a separate policy if you need earthquake coverage—and if you live in Oklahoma, you probably do.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance policy will likely cover claims related to wildfires and tornadoes, but you’ll need to purchase separate coverage for earthquakes and floods.

How to file a home insurance claim

In a disaster-prone state like Oklahoma, there is a good chance you’ll need to use your homeowners insurance at some point. If your home or property is damaged due to a natural disaster, here’s how to submit a claim:
  • Plan ahead. Keep receipts for big purchases (along with other important documents) in a fire- and weather-proof safe so you’re not scrambling when disaster strikes.
  • Document your losses. After a disaster, make an inventory of damaged possessions and take photographs.
  • Determine how much you paid for each item you’re claiming and write it down.
  • Inform your insurance company that you’re submitting a claim. They’ll assign a claims adjuster to review your evidence. 
  • Fill out the claim paperwork that your insurer provides. 
  • Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage. Be thorough and don’t skip any details to ensure you get the payout you’re supposed to get.
  • Get repair estimates from local contractors to help negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company.
  • Collect your funds and start rebuilding your home and replacing your property.
Dealing with a natural disaster, especially when your home has suffered, is never easy. One way to make it easier is to study the terms of your homeowners insurance policy before you have to use it. 
Trying to understand and process legalese when you’re in a state of crisis is difficult, so it’s best to prepare for an emergency beforehand.

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

The best way to save money on insurance is to comparison shop. According to a 2021 Lending Tree survey, 76% of Americans save money on insurance when they shop around
But most people don’t want to spend hours sifting through insurance quotes, filling out long forms, and talking to people on the phone.
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