Volcanic eruptions can cause immense destruction, but is there a type of insurance that specifically covers volcano damage? The short answer is no, there is no such thing as volcano insurance. However, homeowners insurance will typically cover volcano damage if you live in an area with active volcanoes.
This article will explain in detail how volcano damage is covered by standard homeowners insurance, including what is and isn’t covered. We’ll also provide tips on how to prepare for a volcanic eruption.
What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover for Volcano Damage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy will provide coverage for property damage caused directly by volcanic activity. This includes:
- Damage from airborne volcanic material like ash, cinders, and dust
- Lava flow
- Fire or explosions resulting from volcanic eruptions
- Vandalism or theft from looting if homeowners are displaced
Additionally, if a volcanic eruption results in mandatory evacuations and you can’t live in your home, loss of use coverage will pay for temporary accommodations and living expenses.
Comprehensive auto insurance will cover vehicle damage from lava flow. It may also cover damage to engines caused directly by volcanic ash and dust.
What Isn’t Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
While homeowners policies cover the direct damage from volcanic eruptions, they typically exclude indirect damage caused by related events. For example:
Earthquake damage, land tremors, landslides, or mudflows during an eruption are not covered. You’d need separate earthquake insurance for this.
Gradual damage to property from accumulated volcanic dust over time is excluded. The ash/dust must directly cause sudden damage.
There is no coverage to remove ash that falls on your property or landscaping. You can only make a claim if the ash first damages your home or possessions.
Business interruption insurance may not apply unless you have a special endorsement. There is usually a waiting period before coverage kicks in.
Volcanic effusion (mudflows containing volcanic material) is not covered by homeowners insurance. Flood insurance would be required.
How to Prepare for a Volcanic Eruption
If you live near an active volcano, there are steps you can take to protect your home and be prepared in the event of an eruption:
Regularly remove ash/debris from your roof and gutters before it accumulates and causes damage. Wear protective equipment when doing this.
Have an emergency kit ready with essential supplies like water, non-perishable food, flashlights, battery-powered radio, first aid kit, face masks, etc.
Create an evacuation plan and know volcano eruption warning signs you should look out for.
Drive cautiously to avoid engine damage from ash intake. Change filters frequently if ashfall occurs.
Keep vehicles in enclosed garages when possible and wash them often to prevent abrasion from ash.
Back up essential documents/data offsite in case they are destroyed.
Review your homeowners insurance policy and understand exactly what volcanic damage is covered.
Being proactive can help minimize damage and disruption to your daily life if a volcano eruption occurs. But ultimately, having comprehensive homeowners insurance is your best financial protection.
Homeowners Insurance for Volcano Damage by Location
Certain states are more vulnerable to volcanic activity than others. Here’s a look at homeowners insurance considerations for high-risk volcano states:
All major Hawaiian islands have active volcanoes. Kilauea on Hawaii’s Big Island has been continuously erupting since 1983, destroying over 700 homes.
Hawaiian homeowners policies cover lava damage but exclude gradual ash exposure. Earthquake and flood coverage would also be recommended given the common secondary hazards.
Alaska has over 130 active volcanoes, more than any other U.S. state. While most are remote, eruptions of Augustine Volcano and others have caused ashfall damage to Anchorage and other populated areas in the past.
In addition to volcanic damage, Alaskan homeowners should consider earthquake insurance and flood insurance, as major volcanoes like Katmai are near bodies of water impacted by volcanic activity.
Mt. St. Helens is considered Washington’s most threatening volcano given its violent eruption in 1980. Past mudflows and ashfall have impacted nearby population centers.
Homeowners near Mt. St. Helens should verify their policy covers sudden volcanic damage. Earthquake insurance is also recommended for this seismically active area.
While no volcanoes have erupted in over 200 years, California has active volcanic areas like Long Valley Caldera near Mammoth Lakes.
Homeowners should know their policy covers volcanic damage and get earthquake insurance as a supplement. Ashfall and mudflows could impact major cities like Los Angeles.
Oregon’s volcanoes may not be as famous as Mt. St. Helens, but they are still a threat. Mt. Hood, Newberry Volcano, and others have the potential for future eruptions.
Homeowners insurance in Oregon will cover volcanic damage, but additional earthquake insurance is also important given the state’s seismic risk.
Is Volcano Insurance Worth It?
There are no insurance policies that cover only volcanic activity. But fortunately, standard homeowners insurance already includes volcanic eruption damage coverage.
The exceptions not covered that you should pay attention to are earthquake damage, flood damage from volcanic mudflows, and business interruption. These 3 additional coverages can be purchased separately as add-ons to your policy.
Ultimately, having the right homeowners insurance for your volcano risk area, plus supplements like earthquake insurance, provide sufficient protection financially. Focus also on preventative measures to protect your home from ash and lava damage.
Frequently Asked Questions About Volcano Insurance
Here are answers to some common questions homeowners have about insurance and volcanic eruptions:
Does renters insurance cover volcanic eruptions?
Yes, renters insurance policies include the same volcanic damage coverage as homeowners insurance. Your possessions will be protected from lava, ash, and other volcanic perils.
Does car insurance cover volcano damage?
Comprehensive auto insurance covers vehicle damage from lava flows. It may also cover engine damage directly caused by ash intake. However, gradual accumulations of ash that damage the paint or glass over time would not be covered.
Can I get additional volcano insurance?
There are no specific volcano insurance policies. But you can supplement your homeowners policy with earthquake insurance and flood insurance, which cover common secondary hazards from volcanic activity.
Is volcanic effusion covered?
No, volcanic effusion refers to mudflows containing volcanic material. This would only be covered under a flood insurance policy, not standard homeowners insurance.
Does business interruption insurance work for volcanoes?
Maybe, but only if you purchase a special endorsement for volcanic eruptions. There is typically a waiting period before business interruption coverage for volcanic activity takes effect.
While volcano insurance doesn’t exist, volcanic eruptions are covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Just make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t covered. Supplement with earthquake and flood policies if needed for your area.
Preparing your home and vehicles for potential ashfall will also go a long way in minimizing damage from a nearby volcanic eruption. Follow sensible safety precautions and review your insurance regularly to ensure adequate financial protection.
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