Read Your Policy’s Fine Print on Natural Disasters
ACT OF GOD – A manifestation of a violent or destructive natural force, such as a lightning strike or an earthquake, which is beyond human power to cause, prevent or control.”
–Webster’s New American Dictionary
Not all Acts of God are covered equally.
When it comes to natural disasters, millions of American home and property owners from coast to coast – including Floridans ravaged by Hurricane Michael this month — learn the hard way every year what’s not covered by their insurance policy.
While most standard policies cover damage due to wind, rain or hail, you’ll be hard pressed to find regular policies safeguarding your home, business and property from hurt inflicted by tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and (as thousands of Iowa families can tell you) floods.
A funny thing happened in Dubuque on Friday, October 12, 2018. For the first time in 11 days, it didn’t rain in Iowa’s Key City. But at Loras College, almost 19 inches of rain over a week-and-a-half caused a double whammy of a sink hole and landslide. Saturated soil led to a good chuck of Loras’ 78-year-old retaining wall protecting its upper and lower campuses to collapse, sending a dangerous landslide of massive limestone boulders to crash 25 feet down on the school-owned Loras Parkway.
“(The wall) has been a main part of campus for a lot of years,” Loras Interim Communications Director Jimmy Naprstek told KCRG.com.
Thankfully, no one was hurt. But as Iowa’s oldest college learned the painful way when it talked to its insurance company, a bad weather Act of God had occurred on its campus, and this natural disaster was not covered under the school’s insurance property. The price tag to repair and rebuild the wall will likely run in the millions of dollars. The incident came just 30 months after a freak lightning strike destroyed Loras’ Visitation Hall.
To insurance companies, an Act of God is something that no amount of care could have predicted or prevented. Insurance policies often refer to specific risks or classes of risk as “perils.” Anything that is not spelled out as a specific exclusion or risk is subject to coverage debate.
You can guess who usually wins this argument. Be sure to have your insurance agent fully spell out definitions of everything and everything that isn’t covered under your policy.