Which Natural Disasters Does Homeowners Insurance Cover in South Dakota?

To be prepared for natural disasters in South Dakota, understanding what your homeowners insurance policy covers is essential.
Written by Aimee Lynn Everett
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
South Dakota has its share of natural disasters that can cause damage to houses across the state. Common disasters in the Mount Rushmore State include tornadoes, floods, winter storms, severe thunderstorms, and wildfires.
While homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage to your home or belongings from floods, many of South Dakota’s other common disasters are covered by most homeowners insurance policies in the state.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?

A homeowners insurance policy can cover damage to your home, belongings, loss of use expenses,
personal liability
costs, and medical expenses if someone is hurt on your property. 
The extent of your coverage and named perils covered can change between different insurance providers and policy types.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1: This type of homeowners insurance is the most basic and least expensive. It only provides coverage for your house if it is damaged by a limited list of named perils. With this level of coverage, your belongings, loss of use expenses, liability expenses, and medical expenses are not covered by your insurance policy.
HO-2: To extend your homeowners insurance coverage to your belongings as well as your house, upgrading to an HO-2 policy will cover both if they are damaged by a named peril.
HO-3: An HO-3 policy is the most common level of homeowners insurance coverage and includes coverage for your house, any additional structures that are on your property (like a shed or detached garage), your belongings, loss of use, personal liability, and medical expenses.
Unlike the two more limited types of homeowners insurance policies, an HO-3 policy is considered an open perils policy when the structure of your house is damaged. Unless a peril is listed as an exception, it is included in your coverage for your house. However, your belongings are still only covered by a limited list of named perils.
HO-5: If you are looking for the most coverage from your homeowners insurance policy, you’ll want an HO-5 policy. With this kind of homeowners insurance, you’ll get open perils coverage for your belongings along with all the coverages included in an HO-3 policy.
Here’s another breakdown of each type of homeowners insurance:
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?

Since the named perils and amount of coverage can change between different homeowners insurance policies, it is important to read the fine print in your policy and review what perils are—and aren’t—named in your policy.
Some of the most commonly named perils in South Dakota homeowners insurance policies include:
  • Fire and lightning 
  • Smoke
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Explosion
  • Riot or civil commotion
  • Damage caused by vehicles or aircraft 
  • Vandalism 
  • Theft or malicious mischief
HO-2 and HO-3 policies often include additional named perils such as:
  • Falling objects
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing
  • Broken water heater
  • Electrical surge damage
  • Frozen pipes
No matter what kind of homeowners insurance you have, pay careful attention to what disasters your policy doesn’t cover. In South Dakota, disasters like floods and earthquakes are not covered by homeowners insurance. You may want to buy additional coverage in case your home or belongings are damaged by one of these disasters.
Key Takeaway Your homeowners insurance policy’s named perils will differ depending on the level of coverage you purchase.

Does homeowners insurance cover natural disasters in South Dakota?

To understand the risk of damage to houses in South Dakota from natural disasters, as well as which are—or aren’t—covered by your insurance, we’ll take a look at the most common disasters in the Mount Rushmore State.


Tornadoes are a big threat to South Dakota homes and can cause massive destruction across the state. In 2019, a tornado caused major damage when it touched down in Sioux Falls. 
More recently, a particularly catastrophic tornado destroyed the whole town of Murdo—just south of the center of South Dakota—in May 2020.
While your homeowners insurance probably won’t include tornadoes as a specific named peril, wind, hail, and lightning damage are likely covered by your policy. Check your policy to see if you need to buy additional coverage to prepare for tornado damage.


Approximately 9.8% of all homes in South Dakota are at risk of flood damage, making flood insurance an important purchase for around 62,600 homeowners throughout the state. 
Since floods aren’t included in homeowners insurance coverage, you will need to buy additional insurance to cover flood-related damages to your home or belongings. FEMA’s
National Flood Insurance Program
is a great place to start. 

Winter storms

South Dakota homes are also at risk of damage from winter storms that bring heavy snow, blizzards, and large accumulations of ice. Luckily, sudden leaks, damage caused by the weight of ice or snow on your roof, and frozen pipes are often included among the named perils in South Dakota home insurance policies.
As the risk of house fires increases as homeowners increase their use of space heaters, fireplaces, and wood-burning stoves to get through a winter storm, fire is a commonly named peril in most homeowners policies too.


As temperatures continue to increase and droughts become more common across the country, the risk of wildfires in South Dakota continues to grow. In June of 2020, a large wildfire burned more than 150 acres of the state’s Custer State Park, closing highways, damaging buildings, and requiring help from neighboring states to extinguish.
Though the thought of a wildfire quickly engulfing nearby woodlands is a scary one, homeowners insurance will cover damages that a wildfire might cause to your house and belongings up to your policy limits.

Severe thunderstorms

South Dakota homeowners should also take precautions to prepare for severe thunderstorms that can bring damaging winds, lightning strikes, hail, and bursts of torrential rain that can trigger floods across the state.
Though you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy to cover flood damage, your homeowners insurance policy may provide coverage for the other perils that accompany severe storms. 
If any of the above perils is not included in your policy’s list, it may be a good idea to check out your options for additional insurance coverage for these hazards.
Key Takeaway Homeowners insurance will cover damage from many natural disasters in South Dakota, but you will need to buy additional insurance to cover damage from floods and some other disasters that occur in the state.

How to file a homeowners insurance claim

When a disaster that your policy does cover causes damage to your house or belongings, you‘ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. To submit a claim, you’ll need to do the following:
  • Document your losses by creating a list of your damaged belongings, including photos and specific information about each item
  • Contact your insurance company to let them know you are filing a claim. An adjuster will perform a review to make sure your claim is valid
  • Report how much you paid for each item you need to replace. Keeping receipts from all big purchases can help you accurately report the cost of everything that was damaged
  • Fill out the claim paperwork your insurer provides 
  • Meet with the adjuster to go over the damage to your house and belongings, making sure you take the time to look at every damaged room so you can get the right amount of money
  • Do research to get repair estimates from contractors. Having accurate estimates will help you negotiate a fair amount from your insurer to cover the cost of repairing your house 
  • Collect your money once the claim is settled so you can start the repair process
To make the claims process as quick and easy as possible, make sure you’re familiar with the details of your homeowners insurance. This includes the coverages it provides and the perils named in the policy.
To make the claims process as seamless as possible when disaster does strike, it’s important to make sure you’re familiar with the details of your homeowners insurance
Knowing the coverages and named perils included in your policy can help the entire process move quickly so you can start repairing your house as soon as possible.

How to save money on homeowners and car insurance

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