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What Does "Act of God" Mean When It Comes to Homeowners Insurance?

Homeowners insurance policies can seem dense at first glance. They tend to be chock full of industry lingo unfamiliar to the average policyholder. But having a firm grasp on the ins and outs of your policy is the only way to ensure the structure of your home and possessions inside are adequately protected. Assuming your home has blanket coverage in the event of all accidents only leads to a rude awakening in the aftermath!

You may have seen or heard the phrase “Act of God” mentioned in an insurance-related conversation. It can be a head-scratcher at first. What exactly does “Act of God” mean when it comes to homeowners insurance? We can assure you you’re not alone in wondering this.

Keep reading to learn more about this phrase and how it relates to standard policies. Then use CoverHound to compare home insurance quotes for free so you can get a feel for all your coverage options.

What is an “Act of God”?

In short, Act of God is a more epic way to describe certain natural disasters. As CBS News writes, these events “occur through natural causes and could not be avoided through the use of caution and preventative measures.” In other words, the occurrence of these events (and subsequent damages) are outside of humans’ responsibility.

Some accidents are circumstantial. For example, consider a house fire. The catalyst could be an unfortunately placed lightning strike, making it technically an Act of God because it arose without human interference. Or, a fire could start when a pet knocks over a candle or an unattended appliance bursts into flames. Cases like these fall outside the jurisdiction of being an “Act of God” because humans could have prevented them before they started.

Are These Perils Covered?

Whether or not your home is insured against an Act of God depends on the disaster and your policy’s writing. Most standard homeowners insurance policies do cover damage from wind, hail, lightning and volcanic eruptions, according to the Insurance Information Institute. They do not, however, cover damage from floods and earthquakes (even though these would technically be considered “Acts of God” in the sense that they fall well outside of human control).

It’s important to note that the occurrence of an Act of God does not necessarily exclude parties from liability. Investopedia provides the example of a worn-down warehouse blowing over during an earthquake, injuring bystanders. The owner would not necessarily be able to claim it was due to an Act of God because they could have/should have ensured the building was structurally sound well before the natural disaster. In other words, homeowners should still take great care to reduce risks on their property; insurers will not write every incident off as an Act of God, even if it was not primarily human caused.

Different policies treat Acts of God differently, so it’s ultimately up to policyholders to read the fine print, talk to their agent and shop around for coverage that suits their wants and needs. Learn more about policy options and pricing (and even get a free quote) with CoverHound today!

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