What is an Act of God and what does it mean when it comes to home insurance? Read our guide to find out more.
For home insurance purposes, the phrase ‘Act of God’ means an act of nature that can cause a significant amount of damage.
It’s an uncontrollable event that’s not caused by people and that couldn’t be predicted or avoided.
Natural disasters like floods, storms and earthquakes typically fall into this category.
In times gone by, insurance companies sometimes used the catch-all phrase ‘Act of God’ to describe natural disasters that were beyond human control.
These days, you won’t find this term mentioned in insurance policies, although people still sometimes refer to it.
Instead, to avoid confusion, insurers clearly list specific natural disasters and other events in their policies that they will and won’t cover.
No, it’s not a type of insurance that exists. However, typically you’ll find a section in your policy that lists the protection you’ll receive in relation to specific types of events.
Standard risks that home insurers cover include fire, leaking roofs, and a tree falling on your property.
It’s worth checking what’s included and comparing policies before you choose your home insurance cover.
These are generally events caused by people making it easier for insurers to assess the risk, based on the number of times they’ve occurred and been claimed for in the past.
For example, house fires and burst water pipes happen more often than tsunamis and earthquakes. Your insurer will look at where you live and assess the likely risks in your area.
Certain events that could be classed as natural disasters are more predictable and easier for insurers to assess the risk of than others. And these are more likely to be covered in your policy.
Most standard home insurance policies will protect you against damage caused by:
While flooding can sometimes be caused by storms and be unexpected, there are some areas that are more likely to flood.
If you live in one of these areas, you may need to take out specialist flood insurance and your premiums may be higher.
The scheme can help to make insurance more affordable and keep premiums down for people living in areas previously hit by floods.
Pay attention to any weather warnings and make sure you’re prepared. If a severe storm is forecast, you’ll need to make your home as secure as possible.
To help minimise damage, try to tie down or store away any garden furniture and make sure fencing is secure. Plus check your roof for loose tiles, lock any gates and shut windows.
If it’s safe to, clear out your gutters to make sure rainwater can flow away. And if there’s time and you’re worried about flooding, you can try to protect your home with sandbags.
You might also want to move any important documents, photographs and valuable items upstairs.
If you live in an area that might make your home more at risk, there are a few things to bear in mind when you’re taking out home insurance:
To keep your premiums down you might be tempted not to tell your insurer about potential risks where you live, but even if you’re not asked directly it pays to be honest to make sure your cover is valid
If you live near a lake, stream or canal your risk of flooding may be higher. Make sure you know the distance from your home to the water so that you can tell your insurer
Don’t just assume that your insurance will cover you. Read the small print, check exclusions and read any sections relating to natural disasters
Speak to your insurer to find out if you have enough protection against the increased risk where you live. You may need to upgrade your current policy or buy add-on cover
Insurers will turn down claims for damage that’s happened because you haven’t been taking good care of your home. Make sure you keep on top of things like roof and mortar repairs
If you live in an area that’s likely to flood, it’s worth considering some flood-proofing measures. For example, fitting water-resistant skirting boards or installing a waterproof lining in your basement to stop water from getting in
Take photographs of any damage and for flooding, mark the highest level the flood water reached on your walls. Show proof of any protective measures you put in place and keep receipts of any repairs
Any claim you make can affect the insurer’s view of your level of risk. This means your provider may increase your premiums in the future.
If you find the cost for your renewal goes up a lot after a claim, it’s worth shopping around to compare quotes and policies.
Remember that to be fully protected for any weather-related incident, you’ll need cover for both the structure of your home and your belongings.
You can either buy buildings and contents insurance separately as two individual policies, or together as one combined home insurance policy.
Bear in mind that the most important thing to do when you’re taking out cover is to make sure all the information you provide to the insurer is full, correct and up to date.
This should help you to have the right level of cover and make sure that it’s valid.