If you’re lucky you’ll never need to use your homeowners insurance at all, much less in response to a catastrophic event. However, the unfortunate reality is that disasters can and do befall homeowners all across the nation and they occur without warning. Without adequate coverage, the following catastrophes can literally destroy homes and wreck financial lives. Fortunately, with good coverage your homeowners policy will help you pick up the pieces if one of the following 4 catastrophic events occurs.
Catastrophe Scenario #1: Your Home Catches On Fire
One of the most terrifying elements of the home fire is its complete unpredictability. House fires can occur spontaneously in the kitchen while a meal is being cooked or they could happen in the middle of the night due to faulty wiring. A careless match or candle could be the culprit, or your home may find itself directly in the path of a wildfire or a fire originating from another nearby home or building. Regardless of how it starts, a home fire is almost always devastating.
One of the most insidious aspects of a house fire is the smoke. Not only can the smoke create hazards for fleeing occupants, trapped pets, or heroic rescue workers, but the smoke itself can also cause significant damage to your home and property. In many instances the cost of the smoke damage can exceed the cost of the damage done by the actual flames.
Fortunately, just about all homeowners policies include coverage for both fire and smoke damage. Always check your particular policy for details about coverage amounts and make sure to do your part to minimize the potential, and the potential damage, of house fires by keeping working fire extinguishers on hand, checking and maintaining fire and smoke alarms, and complying with all safety standards for wiring and electrical outlets.
Catastrophe Scenario #2: A Tree Falls On Your Home
Unless you have experienced this or something similar yourself, it is difficult to convey the shock and confusion that accompany going home and discovering a tree lying across, or inside of, your house. It is tough to fathom how that strong, healthy-looking, upright tree that you glanced at on your way down the driveway that morning is now suddenly splayed across your living room floor. The damage and expense a catastrophic event like this causes is also difficult to come to terms with.
Trees can fall for any number of reasons, such as a disease or rot that has seeped into their trunk and roots, a severe windstorm or drought, or negative interference from human beings. Whatever the cause, when that mighty oak finally comes crashing down, you better hope your home isn’t in its path. Fortunately, if your house did take the hit, you are likely to covered by your homeowners insurance. Once again, it is important to check your policy for coverage details and to ensure that your are in compliance with tree maintenance requirements.
Catastrophe Scenario #3: Your Home Is Vandalized
Vandalism is always infuriating to the property owner because it is such a malicious, senseless act that is always by definition deliberate. Vandalism could occur when a family goes out of town and some neighborhood hooligans get up to no good, or it could be done as revenge by a spiteful individual one night while the family is asleep. It’s even possible that your home may have the misfortune of being in the path of a rioting crowd. However it happens, the damage and expense incurred from vandalism can range from minor to very significant.
The good news is that most homeowners policies cover acts of vandalism. In fact, if the miscreants break in and damage or steal your television or other property you’re still likely to be covered. As always it is important to check your paperwork or ask your insurance agent for details about your particular policy. Depending on your circumstances you may also want to consider taking additional measures such as installing a security system or upgrading door locks.
Catastrophe Scenario #4: A Hurricane Hits Your Home
In the last decade, the United States has been hit by a string of high-profile hurricanes such as Katrina in 2005, Ike in 2008, and Sandy in 2012, just to name a few. All of these storms left a pile of devastation and ruined homes in their wake. Additional home damage was done on a smaller scale by lesser-known hurricanes and storms. If there’s one lesson to take away from all of this, it’s that preparation is key, and part of that preparation includes adequate insurance coverage.
Hurricanes and storms are challenging from an insurance point of view because different elements of them are covered differently. For example, most basic homeowners policies do not cover flooding which could occur as the result of a hurricane, but they do cover damage caused by wind, rain, and hail, as well as from debris and limbs that impact the homes as a result of these phenomena. For some homeowners, this is perfectly adequate, whereas for others it may not be. It is important to discuss your hurricane and storm concerns with a qualified insurance agent so that you can come up with the best policy or combination of policies for your particular circumstances.
You may not ever be able to fully plan for and prevent all of these catastrophes or fully eliminate the stress and anxiety they cause. However, being prepared with a comprehensive homeowners policy will allow you the peace of mind to rest easy at night. A good policy will also allow you to begin to pick up the pieces and move beyond these devastating events should they ever occur.