The average American citizen is going to need various types of insurance throughout their life, including health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, and homeowners insurance. Insurance itself covers the costs related to a loss, and homeowners insurance specifically covers the dwelling (foundation, walls, roof, garage, deck), other structures on your property (shed, fence, etc.), personal property inside your home, and other structures, and liabilities (someone gets injured on your property).
With that being said, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover all damages to your dwelling or other structures. Here are some examples of additional coverage you may need, especially if you live in the Pacific Northwest.
1: Coverage for Wildfires
The good news about standard homeowners insurance is that it will typically cover any type of unintentional fire that’s not related to war or some type of nuclear risk. Because wildfires are a natural hazard risk across all of the United States West Coast, most homeowners insurance will include wildfire damage in their policies. However, you should double-check to make sure that this is covered in your homeowners insurance policy.
2: Coverage for Snow Storms
Just as with fire damage, most homeowners insurance will cover damage from snow storms, including ice. While the southern half of the U.S. west coast doesn’t usually have to worry about winter storms, the northern half does. Snow and ice can be especially detrimental to homes in this region, so make sure that your homeowners insurance covers damage related to winter storms. There are also two additional things to keep in mind: your homeowners insurance won’t cover the cost of removing snow from your property, and if you’re renting and have renters insurance you need to check and see if your insurance covers winter storm damage.
3: Coverage for Floods and Water Damage
Floods are another natural disaster that is common in the Pacific Northwest (especially in Oregon) and even in other regions of the U.S., but it’s not covered under standard homeowners insurance. Because of this, it’s one of the most popular types of added coverage to homeowners insurance. Flood insurance covers any loss that occurs as a direct result of a flood, so this doesn’t include water damage from anything else that isn’t a result of a flood. With that being said, if you’ve experienced water damage that isn’t a result of a flood and has to pay for it out of pocket, a Portland restoration company or a water damage restoration company in your area can give a quote on how much it would cost to repair any water damage.
4: Coverage for Earthquakes
One final natural disaster that can cause damage to your home in the Pacific Northwest is an earthquake, and just as with floods, earthquake coverage is not included in traditional homeowners insurance. This is because earthquakes (and floods) typically result in total losses for homeowners, and this would make the price of having homeowners insurance too expensive as it is too risky for a standard insurance policy.
While earthquakes are typically more common in California, both the states of Oregon and Washington are seeing more seismic activity. This seismic activity can (in rare instances, but not all at once) trigger volcano eruptions and tsunamis, in addition to earthquakes. The U.S.’s entire west coast is at the highest risk for any of these three natural disasters due to it being along the Ring of Fire.
However, when it comes to homeowners in the Pacific Northwest, fire damage from volcanoes and water damage from tsunamis aren’t as likely as these types of damage from other sources (i.e., wildfires and heavy rain, respectively).
The bottom line is that all homeowners, no matter where they may live, should be aware of what their homesowners insurance does and does not cover— and they should also get extra coverage for natural disasters that are prominent in their area. It is an insurance agent’s duty to advise homeowners of what natural disasters their homes are at risk for and what additional coverage can be purchased so that homeowners won’t have to spend a fortune on repairs. With that being said, the good news is that there are many companies in this region that are equipped to repair damages from these natural disasters at a fair price. That is one of the pros that come with the cons of living in an area of the U.S. with such diverse weather conditions.