Understanding Hurricanes and ‘Act Of God’ Insurance Clauses
By Space Coast Daily // November 30, 2022
An act of God is a natural occurrence that cannot be predicted but causes damage to property or injury to people. The cost of the damage is not covered by insurance unless the policy includes hurricane coverage.
Hurricanes can be one of the most devastating and expensive natural disasters in North America.
These powerful storms are fueled by warm ocean temperatures, and when hurricanes land, they come with a heavy punch. Hurricanes cause many different types of damage: wind, rain, and tidal surges, but it’s flooding that causes the most destruction to property and people.
Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone. A tropical storm is a large-scale weather system characterized by low pressure, closed winds rotating around a center of circulation, and originating over tropical or subtropical waters.
The sustained winds in a hurricane are strong enough that a hurricane can be identified as such at sea or in the open Atlantic, even if the maximum wind speed exceeds the limits of the Beaufort scale.
The eye of the hurricane can be as far as 100 miles from the center of circulation, meaning that a hurricane is much larger than its eye.
It depends on where you live:
Until recently, Americans living along the Atlantic coast have had to cope with hurricanes. Hurricanes can cause a storm surge or a rise in water level due to an approaching hurricane.
Storms passing over open waters can produce tremendous rainfall and send a devastating wall of water onshore, called a tidal surge. Winds from a hurricane can uproot trees and snap power lines. They can tear buildings apart and knock them down. Hurricane winds are strongest at the surface.
Above the surface, a hurricane has smaller-scale versions of itself, known as eyewalls. The outer edge of an eye is known as the eyewall. A hurricane’s wind field contains a vast volume of warm, moist air that is not incredibly dense and can stretch hundreds or even thousands of miles from the eye.
It depends on the hurricane:
For a given storm, the width of its eyewall is most important in determining wind speeds. Other factors, such as cloud patterns and sea-level pressure, are also important.
For example, a hurricane projected to move over water moves with higher wind speeds than one approaching land. And generally, the wider the eyewall’s diameter, the higher the wind speed at any point inside it.
A tropical cyclone is a large-scale weather system characterized by low pressure driven by warm water, which causes moist air to flow in a direction north of the storm’s center of circulation.
Tropical cyclones are classified into three main groups according to their power, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and a third group known as hurricanes.
It depends on your insurance policy and your damage:
Insurance litigation policies vary and may include coverage for hurricanes. Still, it is always best to check your policy, as damage from a storm does not automatically mean you are covered.
In the case of a hurricane, an insurance company’s liability is limited to the cost of restoring your damaged property to its condition before the disaster. While significant portions of this type of coverage might be referred to as “hurricane,” they typically don’t cover flood damage.
The best approach to addressing storm damage is to proceed as if your property has been hit by a hurricane and ensure you have adequate coverage. Many homeowners are taken “by surprise” when a storm or other damage occurs.
By taking steps ahead of time, you can reduce the time it takes for your belongings to get back to their pre-storm state.
It depends on whether you will fight your insurance company:
In the best case, you will not have to fight your insurance company. Hopefully, you have a policy with good coverage for hurricane damage, and your claims adjuster will adequately assess the value of your property based on what it usually costs to repair and restore a home to its condition before the hurricane.
If you do not have any coverage for hurricane damage, you will likely be told by your adjuster that there is nothing that can be done or that you are responsible for the damages.
Protecting yourself against hurricane damage is a personal decision and should be based on the value of your property, the cost of hurricane coverage, and the limitations of your policy.
If you have any doubts or questions, check with your insurance company or refer to an independent loss consultant. While various factors play a role in determining replacement value, as a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend eight times your actual purchase price to repair or rebuild an average home.