Which Natural Disasters Does Home Insurance Cover in West Virginia?

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West Virginia has the highest flood risk in the United States—nearly 25% of homes in the state are likely to experience flooding. Floods are not covered by standard home insurance, so adding a flood policy should be a top priority for homeowners. 
The Mountain State offers beautiful landscapes and historic buildings. Lower-than-average crime rates and a low cost of living can make the state attractive to homebuyers. If you are moving to West Virginia, plan on investing in flood insurance along with your homeowners policy. 
Often, homebuyers have misconceptions about what their homeowners insurance actually covers, especially when it comes to natural disasters. The two most common declared disasters in the US—earthquakes and flooding—are not covered by standard home insurance policies. 
Having the right insurance for your location is the best way to make sure you will be able to rebuild if disaster strikes. Insurance expert Jerry is here to tell you everything you need to know about natural disasters and home insurance in West Virginia.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?  

Homeowners insurance (or home insurance) is often required by mortgage lenders as a condition of purchasing a home. 
A home insurance policy will protect your investment by paying to repair or rebuild your home when it’s damaged by certain events, called perils.
There are different types of policies and different levels of coverage. You’ll need to make an informed decision when you select a policy so you’re covered if disaster strikes.

Levels of homeowners insurance coverage

HO-1 is an Actual Cash Value policy that only covers a limited number of named perils. This is the least expensive home insurance option, but you get what you pay for. 
This policy type is less likely to include a peril that you need (like falling objects), pays out less when you have an accepted claim, and only applies coverage to the primary dwelling structure. 
HO-2 policies are a step up from HO-1, but still, only provide basic coverage. HO-2 is a named perils policy that covers your home, additional structures (like sheds and fences), and personal property from the perils listed on your policy. 
You can choose an HO-2 policy that offers replacement cost or actual cash value payouts. 
HO-3 policies are more comprehensive and include open perils for the home and additional structures as well as named perils coverage for personal belongings. This makes it the most popular type of insurance for homeowners. 
HO-3 policies also include loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments coverage to cover your costs if your home becomes uninhabitable or someone gets injured on your property. 
With this policy, claims for your home and other structures are paid at replacement cost value, and personal belongings are paid at actual cash value. 
HO-5 is the most comprehensive type of insurance policy for homeowners. With this insurance, your home, property, and personal belongings are all covered for open perils—so any event is covered unless it’s specifically excluded in writing. 
Let’s take a look at a visual breakdown:
Policy typeWhat’s coveredType of perilRCV or ACV
HO-1House onlyNamed perilsACV
HO-2House, other structures, personal belongings, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsNamed perilsEither
HO-3House, other structures, personal belongings, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsDwelling—open perils, personal property—named perils onlyHome—RCV, Belongings—ACV
HO-5Main structure, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical paymentsOpen perilsRCV

What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?

16 named perils typically show up on home insurance policies, but make sure you read the fine print of your policy, as your coverage may differ from this list. 
All named perils policies (HO-1, HO-2, and HO-3) will likely include:
  • 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
Additional named perils covered by HO-2 and HO-3 policies include:
  • Falling objects 
  • Weight of snow, ice, or sleet 
  • Water overflow or discharge from plumbing 
  • Water heater cracking 
  • Damage from electrical current 
  • Frozen pipes 
Key Takeaway Home insurance policies come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure that yours fits you the way you want it to!

Does home insurance cover natural disasters in West Virginia?

Damage from some, but not all, natural disasters will be covered by your home insurance policy. Let’s review some of the most common hazards the state faces.  

Flooding

Flooding is the number-one declared disaster in West Virginia. Unfortunately, about 25% of homeowners wrongly believe that flooding is covered by their standard insurance policy—flooding is never covered.
You can purchase separate flood insurance through a provider such as the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or your regular insurer. 

Wildfire

In West Virginia, wildfire season begins in the fall after the state’s long, dry summers. And wildfire incidents are increasing—2021 saw wildfire numbers double in the first three months of the year. 
Luckily, most home insurance policies include fire/wildfire coverage as a named peril

Severe storms

Severe storms and winter storms have been known to cause frequent damage to West Virginia homes. The term “severe storms” covers several perils, so the question of coverage depends on the type of storm and the damage it caused. 
Damage caused by hail, lightning, wind (including tornadoes), or snow is generally covered
However, you may experience trouble with a claim if the damage is caused by snow or ice that has been allowed to build up over time. And if a storm causes flooding—again, you won’t be able to file a claim.

Power outages

One of the main results of power outages is food spoilage, which varies in cost and may or may not be covered by your insurance. 
If you’re not sure whether you’ll be covered, it may be best not to file a claim in this instance. The value of the food lost may not be above your deductible amount, which would make it counterintuitive to file a claim. 
Additionally, even if your claim is denied, having filed one can cause your premiums to increase in the future.

Landslides

Landslides are not very common in West Virginia, but they happen occasionally. Earth movement events like landslides and earthquakes are not covered by standard insurance, meaning you may want to purchase separate earthquake or difference in conditions (DIC) coverage if your property is at risk of landslide damage.
Key Takeaway Damage from flooding and earthquakes is never covered by standard insurance in West Virginia. You’ll need to purchase separate policies for these two events. 

How to file a home insurance claim

Here’s what to do if your home is damaged by a covered peril and you’d like to file an insurance claim.
  • Contact local police if needed. If you are the victim of a crime that has caused loss or damage to your home or property, start by filing a police report. Make sure you ask for a copy of the report with a case number to file with your insurance claim. 
  • Notify your insurance company. If disaster strikes in the odd hours, you can generally start filing your claim online, but calling your agent is the best way to make sure the company understands what happened. 
  • Attend to any emergency repairs. Survey the damage to see if repairs are needed immediately to keep residents safe and prevent more damage. Photograph the areas you are attending to, make repairs, and keep any receipts for reimbursement.
  • Document the claim. Your agent will help you file the claim, but you’ll need to provide documentation to increase your chances of success. List and describe lost items and take pictures of all damaged areas. If you have them, attach photos of rooms or items in their original condition. 

How to save money on home and car insurance

From the insurance you choose to the claims you file, home insurance requires a lot of time, diligence, and know-how. However, it is a must-have for most homeowners, and without it—or with the wrong coverage—you could end up with thousands in out-of-pocket costs. 
Luckily, the insurance experts behind the Jerry app can help you find the coverage you need at the right price.
If you’re looking for home insurance (or want to save even more by bundling policies), Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes in under a minute. Swapping is just as effortless. Jerry takes care of all the paperwork and phone calls and can even assist you in canceling your old policy!
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