Which Natural Disasters Does Home Insurance Cover in Rhode Island?

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Even though it’s the nation’s smallest state, Rhode Island can face big losses from natural disasters like winter storms, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes. 
Understanding which natural disasters your homeowners insurance policy actually covers is important if you want the best protection for your house and belongings.
To help you decode your policy, home and car insurance comparison app Jerry is here to walk you through the ins and outs of your insurance coverage. We’ll break down the different policy types, disasters commonly covered by home insurance, and how to file a claim.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?

Homeowners insurance can provide coverage for your house, belongings, and expenses from loss of use, personal liability, and medical treatments for someone who is injured on your property. 
There are many different policy types to choose from when you are buying homeowners insurance, and not all of them have the same level of coverage.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: This type of homeowners insurance is the most basic and only covers damage to the primary dwelling (the house itself) from a limited list of named perils. Damages to your belongings, liability expenses, and medical expenses aren’t included in HO-1 coverage.
HO-2: This is another named perils policy, but it covers your personal belongings—in addition to your house—if there is damage from an event listed in your policy.
HO-3: As the most common type of policy, an HO-3 provides coverage for your house and belongings as well as loss of use, personal liability, and medical expenses for guests harmed at your home.
When it comes to damage to your house, an HO-3 provides open-perils coverage. This means that rather than naming a limited number of covered perils, it provides all-risk coverage for any peril that is not listed as an exclusion. 
HO-5: This type of policy provides all-risk coverage for both your house and your belongings, along with liability, loss of use, and medical expenses coverages. An HO-5 policy will get you the most coverage to protect your home and belongings, but it’s also the most expensive type of homeowners insurance policy.
To give you a better idea of how the different levels of homeowners insurance coverage stack up against each other, here is a simple breakdown of each type of policy:
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?

It is especially important for Rhode Island homeowners with HO-1, HO-2, or HO-3 insurance policies to know what is included in their policy’s list of named perils. Though it can change between different policies, the most common named perils include:
  • Fire
  • Lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Hail
  • Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft 
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
HO-2 and HO-3 homeowners insurance policies—which typically include more named perils than an HO-1 policy—may also cover damage from:
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
  • Broken water heater
  • Electrical surge damage
  • Frozen pipes
Be sure to look at your own homeowners insurance policy carefully to make sure you know what catastrophes it doesn't cover. 
For instance, although Rhode Island experiences more than its fair share of damaging floods, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover natural disasters in Rhode Island?

No matter where you live, it is unlikely that your homeowners insurance will cover every natural disaster you face. 
To better understand what disasters you may need to prepare for as a homeowner—and which may require additional insurance coverage—we’ll take a look at Rhode Island’s most common natural disasters.

Winter storms

As a part of New England, Rhode Island is no stranger to winter storms. Whether they come in the form of blizzards, nor’easters, or ice storms, these events can cause damage to your home when large amounts of snow and ice accumulate quickly.
Luckily, the effects of a winter storm—including the weight of ice, snow, and sleet, frozen pipes, and water damage—are commonly named as perils in most homeowners insurance policies. 
House fires are also a risk during winter storms as space heater, fireplace, and wood stove use increases. Most homeowners insurance also covers fire damage.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are one of the most common natural disasters to cause damage to homes in Rhode Island. Whether the damage is from high winds or flooding, your homeowners insurance policy likely won’t cover hurricane damage.
In Rhode Island, you can pay a hurricane deductible in addition to the price of your insurance policy to cover damage caused by high winds during a hurricane. It’s also a good idea to pay a flood deductible if you are in an area that is at risk of being flooded during a hurricane or other strong storm. 

Tornadoes

Rhode Island isn’t part of the midwestern “Tornado Alley,” but tornadoes that can occur in the state. In 2021, three tornadoes touched down in one day on November 13th, leaving behind just less than ten miles of combined destruction.
Since Rhode Island does not experience many tornados, tornado damage is likely included among the perils named in your homeowners insurance policy. If not, you may be able to buy additional coverage for windstorms, which will cover damage caused by a tornado.

Wildfires

Rhode Island isn’t a hotspot for large wildfires like the ones that are seen in the western portion of the country. However, small wildfires do occur in the state and can be a threat to you if you live in or next to a forested area.
Fortunately, fire damage is almost always included as a named peril in homeowners insurance policies. If a wildfire does damage your house or belongings, you can expect your insurance company to cover the bill up to your policy limits.
Key Takeaway It is common for home insurance in Rhode Island to cover damage from winter storms and wildfires, and possibly even tornadoes. However, you’ll need to pay for additional insurance to get hurricane and flood coverage.

How to file a homeowners insurance claim

Not every potential natural disaster that can occur in Rhode Island will be covered by your homeowners insurance. 
If your house or property is damaged by a covered peril, though, you’ll need to submit a claim to your insurer.
To submit a claim, you’ll need to:
  • Document your losses. Write down a list of all your damaged belongings, including pictures and other specific information for each item
  • Contact your insurance company to get the claim process started. An adjuster will review the information to confirm the validity of your claim
  • Report each damaged item’s cost. Filing away your receipts when you make expensive purchases can help you accurately report the cost of each item
  • Fill out the claim paperwork your insurer gives you 
  • Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage to your house and belongings
  • Do research to get repair estimates. Having accurate estimates will help you negotiate a fair amount from your insurance company to cover the repair costs 
  • Collect your money once the claim is settled and start the repair process ASAP

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

Comparing homeowners and car insurance deals before you renew your policies each year is the best way to save money. Searching for the best prices can be a confusing and long process, though, if you’re doing it alone.
Luckily, you can quickly get the best insurance deals without any of the hassles of shopping for quotes by downloading the Jerry app and answering a few simple questions.
Jerry, a licensed insurance broker, will get you the best quotes from top insurers and take care of all the paperwork when you pick the policy that’s right for you. 
Jerry can also get you bundling deals on your home and car insurance so that you can save money on both policies while maintaining your current coverage.
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