Skip navigation explain ‘acts of god’ in home insurance

lightening striking over a bay Home insurance policies sometimes contain clauses which refer to an ‘Act of God’. These tend to limit liability for natural phenomena such as lightning strikes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and plagues of frogs – freak occurrences which cannot be prevented.

Insurance providers occasionally include these clauses to protect themselves from the hefty payouts usually associated with such unpredictable events. So, in the event that your property is damaged by what is deemed to be an ‘Act of God’, you may find that your insurance provider refuses to pay out. At which point, you might well take certain names in vain.

To this end, it’s always an idea to check your home insurance policy and see what’s excluded under the ‘Act of God’ clause. Obviously, the very essence of these exemptions is that they are unpredictable, so it can be difficult to judge if they apply to you. For example, you may not think of your property as being particularly lightning-prone, but you never know.

However, it is certainly prudent to check for supposedly freak events which are becoming more prevalent, such as floods. If you do live on a floodplain, and yet floods are considered to be an ‘Act of God’ by your insurance provider, then you may later regret being underinsured.

That said, policies today often provide cover for chance occurrences in their standard buildings insurance inclusions. A certain level of flood damage cover may be provided, for example – probably no surprise since flooding seems not uncommon nowadays. Likewise a certain degree of storm damage cover may be provided. To be sure of the extent to which you’re covered, be sure to read the small print in your policy.

What if your house were to be destroyed? It is obviously unlikely, but not unheard of. In such a situation, if you have taken out buildings insurance (which you almost certainly will do if you have a mortgage, as it is likely to be one of your lender’s requirements), then you will be able to recover your rebuild cost. Plus some policies may be able to provide an ‘alternative accommodation’ payment in the undesirable event that your property is rendered uninhabitable for a period of time.

Last, but by no means least, it is an idea to know exactly what constitutes this exemption in the eyes of your insurance provider. Don’t get caught out by vague wording… If the situations which constitute an ‘Act of God’ aren’t specifically defined in your policy, then request clarification from your insurer, so that they cannot hide behind something loosely defined in the event of a claim. Possibly the best advice that can be given – with ‘Act of God’ clauses and as with all insurance – is know your policy!


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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris

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