Act of God

An act of God is a term insurance companies use to describe events that are outside of human control.

A thunderstorm approaching over a home

What’s considered an act of God?

For insurance purposes, “act of God" refers to an accident or other natural event caused without human intervention that couldn’t have been prevented by reasonable foresight or care. 

That sounds complicated, but to put it more simply, an act of God is a severe weather event or natural disaster.

Insurance companies generally consider the following to be acts of God: 

  • Earthquakes

  • Hail

  • Floods

  • Hurricanes

  • Tornadoes

  • Lightning

  • Severe storms

  • Tsunamis

  • Wildfires

  • Windstorms

An event is called an act of God when it’s not caused by a person. For example, a fire that starts when lightning strikes is considered an act of God. One that starts because someone knocked over a candle probably isn’t.

What is the difference between a force majeure and an act of God? 

An act of God typically refers only to acts of nature. A force majeure, on the other hand, includes both acts of nature and extraordinary circumstances due to human activity. Most homeowner insurance policies don’t specifically state force majeure.

Does home insurance cover an act of God? 

Many of the most common acts of God – like tornadoes, hail, and severe storms – are covered by standard homeowners insurance. For those that aren’t you may be able to purchase an insurance endorsement.

You should note, however, that if you live in an area prone to certain natural disasters, your insurance company might sell policies that exclude those particular perils or have additional requirements, like a hurricane deductible

Additionally, not all types of homeowners insurance policies cover the same perils in the same way. Depending on the type of policy you have, you may have coverage on either a named-perils or open-perils basis.

  • A named-perils policy (e.g., HO1 or HO2 policy) offers narrower protection with a list of specific perils covered. Wind, lightning, and hail are acts of God typically covered by a HO1 or HO2 policy. 

  • An open-perils policy (e.g., HO3) covers perils not explicitly excluded by the policy language. This means most acts of God are covered unless listed as an exclusion in your policy documents.

Two acts of God that are almost always excluded? Flood and earthquake.

How can I tell if my policy covers an act of God? 

The best way to find out whether your policy covers damage caused by a particular act of God is to carefully read your policy. (If you’re unsure after that, ask your insurance company or agent to clarify for you.)

You probably won’t find the words “act of God” in your policy documents; instead, you’ll see a list of the policy’s covered perils. Whether you’ve got a named-perils or an open-perils policy, you’ll see a list of coverage exclusions that likely includes acts of God like floods and earthquakes.

What should I do if an act of God damages my home?

In most cases, you’ll need to file a claim. Homeowners sometimes hesitate to file an insurance claim because they’re worried it will make their premiums go up, but most don’t have to worry. State laws generally prohibit insurance companies from using claims stemming from an act of God against an insured. Plus, you got insurance to help you recover from just these kinds of events. 

Here are some tips on catastrophe claims for our homeowners insurance and House & Property insurance members:

  • Contact the Claims Center as soon as you experience a loss of any kind, especially one that results from a natural disaster or other catastrophic event.

  • Have the following information on hand to file your claim:

    • A photo ID.

    • Your policy information. (If you don’t have it, we can help!)

    • Your contact information. 

    • The date of the loss.

    • Damage description and photos, if possible.

Providing as much information as possible during the first notice of loss can help speed up the process.

Next, if you can safely do so, take steps to mitigate your losses further. That may mean turning off the water, removing standing water, shoring up damaged areas, or any other activities you can safely perform that might help prevent damage from spreading.


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