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Insurance Terms: What Is “An Act of God”?

Navigating the insurance world is difficult enough when the elements of your case are clear, such as another driver’s proven liability for your car accident. If your case involves an act of God, however, it can be even harder to obtain the compensation you believe your insurance company owes you. An act of God destroying your property will take a special kind of claim to remedy your losses.

What Does Act of God Mean in the Insurance World?

An act of God in the insurance realm refers to an incident no amount of prudence could have prevented. Acts of God include floods, lightning, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires. Natural disasters or acts of nature, such as strong winds blowing a tree limb onto your vehicle, are acts of God in the eyes of an insurance company. In general, basic insurance policies do not cover acts of God.

If you only purchase the minimum required amounts of automobile insurance in Arizona, for example, your insurance policy will not pay for repairs to your vehicle if it gets swept away in a flash flood. You would need to purchase a higher degree of coverage, such as comprehensive insurance, to enjoy protection against acts of God. The root cause of the damage will determine whether or not the incident qualifies as an act of God.

Your home insurance policy might cover fire damages, for instance, but not if the cause of the fire was a natural disaster. If your neighbor started the fire by shooting fireworks toward your home, an insurance policy might cover the damages. If lightning started the fire, however, you would need coverage for acts of God. Each insurance policy is unique. It is up to you to read the fine print on yours to find out if your insurance policy covers acts of God.

Does Your Insurance Cover Natural Disasters and Acts of Nature?

You will not find the phrase act of God in your insurance documents. Instead, the insurance company will specifically list scenarios or events in which your policy will or will not cover your damages. In general, any unexpected events that no human could control, prevent or protect against are acts of God. The only way to understand your protections is to read through the language of your policy carefully or to contact your insurance agent for more details.

The type of automobile insurance you would need for acts of God is comprehensive coverage. This type of policy would pay to repair your vehicle if something other than a motor vehicle accident damages it – including fire, flood or vandalism. Comprehensive coverage is optional in Arizona. Most homeowner’s policies cover some acts of God, but not others. The average policy will cover damage due to regular storms, wind, rain or hail. It will not, however, cover more serious natural disasters.

If you wish to secure your home against all possible acts of God, you will need to purchase special homeowner’s insurance. HO-3 insurance is a common choice for homeowners that want more comprehensive coverage. This type of insurance protects against most disasters, other than those the policy specifically excludes. HO-1 and HO-2 insurance, however, only protect against the types of incidents listed in the policy. Speak to your insurance provider to learn more about purchasing better coverage against acts of God.

How to Recover Damages for an Act of God

With no human liable for an act of God that damages your property, it can be difficult to obtain financial compensation from someone else. A comprehensive insurance policy could be your only hope of damage reimbursement. You likely will not have grounds to file an injury claim against someone for an act of God. If, however, someone did contribute to the disaster – such as a utility company failing to trim a dead tree near a power line – that party could owe you compensation. Work with an attorney for assistance discovering who could owe you money after a natural disaster.