How Acts of God, or natural disasters, affect your home insurance

It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, mostly in extreme, unexpected circumstances. 

But what exactly is an Act of God? And how will it affect your home insurance? If a natural disaster strikes, biblical or otherwise, will you be covered? 

Here’s what you need to know.

It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot, mostly in extreme, unexpected circumstances. 

But what exactly is an Act of God? And how will it affect your home insurance? If a natural disaster strikes, biblical or otherwise, will you be covered? 

Here’s what you need to know.

Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
3
minute read
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Posted 23 DECEMBER 2021 Last Updated 17 MARCH 2022

What’s considered an Act of God? 

Specifically, the phrase ‘Act of God’ refers to a natural disaster that’s considered no one’s fault and couldn’t have been avoided. We’re talking about events like:

  • flooding
  • a storm
  • lightning
  • a hurricane
  •  a tsunami
  • an earthquake
  • a volcanic eruption 

It’s the kind of action movie phrase that gets stuck in your head and people often go searching for it in the small print of their insurance policy. But these days, you probably won’t find it because it’s just not a term that insurance providers normally use. Instead, your policy will set out what it does and doesn’t cover.

What isn’t an Act of God? 

Things not considered Acts of God are when damage is caused by a person or could reasonably have been foreseen, protected against or prevented.

So if, for example, a fire that damages your home is caused by someone throwing away a lit cigarette, it wouldn’t be classed as an Act of God because it was started by a person and could have been avoided.

Does home insurance cover Acts of God? 

There’s still a common misconception that insurance providers include an Act of God clause in their policies to avoid paying claims. And while that was once common practice, times have changed. These days, providers tend to be a lot clearer with their policy terms and will specifically outline what is and isn’t included.

If a natural disaster, like a fire, flood or storm damages your home, you may find that your home insurance covers you. That said, your policy is likely to have exclusions and isn’t going to cover you for all unforeseen circumstances.

What your insurance provider will and won’t cover will be clearly written in the policy. As always, you’ll have to read the small print to be sure. Keep an eye out for sections relating to natural disasters in particular.

How can I protect my home against natural disasters? 

We know that climate change is likely to increase the instances and severity of weather and natural disasters around the world. So it’s probably high time to get clued up.

Although some natural disasters may be covered by your insurance policy, it’s still a good idea to protect your home as much as possible so you won’t have to make a claim. Tips include:

  • Secure or lock away loose objects like bikes, garden furniture and children’s toys.
  • Inspect your roof for loose tiles or damaged chimney pots and get any issues fixed.
  • Trim back any bushes or small trees that could damage your windows in high winds.
  • Secure any weak fencing or gates 

It’s also important to protect your home from flooding, which is becoming more common in the UK, and to make sure your home insurance policy covers you for this by providing accurate information to your insurance provider.

Over five million properties in England are at risk from flooding. If your home is in a high-risk flood area, you might struggle to get cover, but the government-backed Flood Re scheme is designed to help you access affordable home insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get Act of God home insurance?

That might sound pretty cool (as far as home insurance goes) but no, it doesn’t exist and crucially, you shouldn’t need it. Your home insurance should protect you against natural disasters such as fire, flood and storms. Your policy has to be clearly written to say what is and isn’t included in your cover.

Will my insurance provider pay out for natural disasters?

It depends on what it says in your policy. If lightning or some other freak weather occurrence damages your property, your insurance provider could cover you for your losses. But always check your policy for exceptions.

Will my home be covered for flooding?

A standard home insurance policy will usually cover you against damage caused by floodwater. But if you live in a high-risk flood area or your home has flooded in the past, you might have to pay a high excess (the amount you must contribute towards a claim) or seek Flood Re cover.

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