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Apocalypse coming? Check your insurance policies
Most of us have home insurance coverage that is adequate for common mishaps, such as burglaries, accidents and fires, but some policies may not be up to the task of protecting you from disasters of truly biblical proportions.
Few people plan for the day when their home is hit by swarms of locusts or hail the size of baseballs, but such things do occur. Recent headlines about massive flooding in Australia, millions of fish dying in Chesapeake Bay and red-winged blackbirds falling dead from the skies in Arkansas and Louisiana call to mind the Ten Plagues of Israel. As described in the Bible, they included invasions of pests, damaging weather and devastating disease.
Scientists say such a series of misfortunes is well within the realm of possibility. If so, the ancient people who suffered through them could have made good use of the insurance coverage that is available to us today. A full range of protection against Apocalyptic events requires adequate health and life insurance, in addition to a solid homeowners insurance policy.
Many people regard the story of Noah's Ark as a religious parable, but myths of a great flood are common throughout the world. The ancient peoples of North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia all share similar legends. Geologists are studying the possibility that a cataclysmic deluge actually may have occurred. With present-day global warming, scientists warn that more large floods are in our future. You may decide to invest in a boat, but make sure that your home is protected from flood damage.
Insurance for unforgiving nature
Natural disasters regularly demonstrate how unforgiving and unpredictable nature can be. Raging wildfires routinely send thousands of people fleeing from their homes in the American Southwest. Earthquakes are a worldwide concern. Floods continue to wreck havoc in many communities, such as those along America's Gulf Coast.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- Conquest, War, Famine and Death -- are the biblical figures who symbolize the many disasters that befall mankind. Although we may not be able to prepare for every crisis, there are steps we can take to make sure our insurance is adequate. Be sure to read your home insurance policy carefully and ask your agent what losses it covers and excludes, advises Peter Moraga, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Network of California.
The most basic homeowner insurance policy, HO-1, covers few perils and is not widely used. The HO-2, or broad form policy, is more comprehensive, but your best bet is HO-3 or special insurance coverage. This is used by most homeowners because it insures homes against loss or damage from all perils except those that are specifically excluded.
"The typical homeowners insurance covers most wind damage, trees falling on your home, an airplane that crashes into your home, a car that goes off a freeway and crashes into your home," Moraga says.
Know your home insurance policy's exclusions
"Acts of God" may be excluded from home insurance policies. For example, standard home polices generally do not cover floods or earthquakes. If there is a chance that you will be affected by such disasters, you can buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program and some private insurers. Earthquake coverage is available from private insurance companies. The California Earthquake Authority offers polices to state residents.
Other common policy exclusions include damage from neglect, wars, riots, civil commotion, nuclear hazards, intentional loss caused by the homeowner and loss stemming from government actions. Standard policies normally do not cover damage from pests, such as rodents and insects. Although your policy may protect you against terrorism, each incident will be judged on a case-by-case basis to determine the true cause of damage, says David Snyder, vice president and associate general counsel for the American Insurance Association.
"Each one is a factual decision based upon the investigation," he says.
Being prepared for disasters is good, but it is possible to get carried away. You can purchase an insurance policy for nearly any type of disaster, no matter how unlikely. If you pay the premium and the insurer believes it is a risk worth taking, the game is on. Make sure you spend your money wisely.
Really unforeseen events
Some believe that ancient aliens influenced the development of humankind and continue to visit the planet to abduct unfortunate individuals. If this weighs on your mind, you can purchase alien abduction insurance. The UFO Abduction Insurance Co. in Florida says it has paid out at least two such claims. If you are abducted by aliens and somehow find your way back to your home planet, it pledges up to $10 million in coverage to compensate you for your ordeal.