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Home insurance can protect against extreme weather, but about half of Americans don’t understand it

Home insurance can protect against extreme weather, but about half of Americans don't understand it


Home insurance can protect against extreme weather, but about half of Americans don’t understand it

Amid a red-hot housing market, a large number of prospective buyers are overlooking some of the fine details about insuring their big investment, according to a popular real estate listing website.Data from found that listings are on the market for 35 fewer days compared to last year and that many purchasers aren’t factoring how extreme weather events can affect the value of their property. In a July 2021 survey of more than 3,000 Americans, found:Just over half (56%) of homeowners knew what to look for in their homeowners insurance policy when buying their home, with 15% saying they had no clue what to check.The youngest generation is the least likely to understand homeowners insurance: Only 39% of Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) said they knew what to look for in their policy when buying a home, compared with 58% of Millennials (1981  to 1996) and 58% of Gen X (1965 to 1980) and 57% of baby boomers (1946 to 1964). Fifty two percent of American homeowners took natural disasters into account when choosing the location of their current home.Here are some common extreme weather scenarios and whether or not they are covered by home insurance, courtesy of TornadoesTornadoes ranked the highest concern in the study, with 39% of homeowners saying they were concerned about tornadoes. Based on insurance data from 2009 to 2016, wind-related incidents made up 24% of home insurance claims, higher than any other category.Home insurance typically covers damage caused to your house because of tornadoes or windstorms — but only to a certain degree.In “tornado alley,” which includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, a homeowner may have to pay an additional deductible for wind damage. It could cover a “total loss” event, meaning in the case the house is completely destroyed, the policy would pay to rebuild it.Cold weather and snow damageMost damage by cold weather or snow is covered by home insurance, unless a homeowner demonstrates negligence. For example, if a homeowner leaves the heat on in a house during cold weather and a pipe bursts, the owner would have to cover the cost. However, if a snowstorm happened and there wasn’t anything an owner could do to prevent the damage, the insurance would cover it.FloodsFlooding is the most common natural disaster to affect homes, yet it is not covered in standard home insurance plans. So, homeowners will need to purchase flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. In certain flood-prone zones, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires that homeowners purchase flood insurance, a policy which affects more than 5 million people, according to CNBC.Recent flood news: ‘Not knowing is the hardest part’: Hope of finding flooding survivors dims in Waverly, TennesseeMore flood news:  ‘Never seen anything this devastating’: At least 2 dead, 17 missing in North Carolina county flooded by FredEarthquakesHome insurance excludes earthquakes, so homeowners in earthquake-prone areas should purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy. Even with earthquake insurance, it won’t necessarily cover rebuilding your home.HurricanesDamage from hurricanes can come from wind or water, meaning it is influenced by a mix of policies. Like tornadoes, wind damage is typically covered by home insurance, though a homeowner may need to pay an additional deductible before the policy covers the damages. Water damage, like with flooding, is not always covered and needs to be purchased separately as flood insurance.Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USATODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter. 

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