Does life insurance cover death by natural disaster? |
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Life insurance and natural disasters

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You’re covered for accidents — but not if you seek them out.

The US is regularly hit by hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and other natural disasters. While there’s no way to guarantee you or a loved one won’t ever get hurt by a natural disaster, you can protect your family from the financial consequences.

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Does life insurance cover natural disasters?

Yes, the accidental death benefit on a life insurance policy would pay out if the policyholder died in a natural disaster. While it’s always best to check your policy to make sure, most life insurance policies will pay out for any accidental death, regardless of cause.

But if you chase down a natural disaster and don’t have a policy that includes high-risk activities, your beneficiary might not be able to claim the funds. For example, if you die of smoke inhalation while trying to photograph a wildfire or are killed while attempting to take video outside during a hurricane, the insurance company can deny the claim.

How life insurance protects you from natural disasters

Insurance can’t keep you physically safe during a natural disaster, but it can help you and your loved ones deal with the aftermath.

  • Life insurance. If something happens to you, will your loved ones be able to get by without your income? A life insurance policy can pay for funeral and burial costs as well as day-to-day expenses.
  • Income protection. If you’re seriously injured in a disaster, income protection can help you with day-to-day expenses until you’re able to return to work.
  • Personal accident insurance. After a serious injury, bills can start to pile up and your health insurance won’t cover all of them. Personal accident insurance can cover medical copays, nursing care, renovations to make your home more accessible and day-to-day expenses while you’re not working.

Other types of insurance and natural disasters

To stay fully protected from the financial consequences of natural disasters, you’ll want to check each one of your insurance policies to find out how you’re protected.

  • Homeowners insurance. Many homeowners insurance policies don’t cover natural disasters, and you may need to take out additional coverage — especially if you live in a high-risk area, like on a fault line or near a forest. Contact your insurer to find out if you’re covered.
  • Renters insurance. Like homeowners insurance, many renters insurance policies exclude damage from natural disasters — especially in high-risk areas. Reach out to your insurer to find out how you’re covered and what to do if you’re not.
  • Car insurance. If you have comprehensive car insurance, you’re likely already covered for natural disasters. But exclusions vary from policy to policy, so it’s best to double check with your insurer.
  • Health insurance. Health insurance policies cover you no matter how you get sick or injured, so if you’re hurt in a natural disaster your health insurance policy can help with the medical bills.

Natural disasters in the US

The US is prone to many different types of natural disasters, and each region has its own risks. Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, blizzards, lightning storms and earthquakes hit with alarming frequency.

In 2018, there were eight Atlantic hurricanes and a record-breaking seven subtropical storms. There were over 100 wildfires, with the Carr Fire alone destroying well over 1,000 homes. Roads and bridges collapsed and homes were trashed when a 7.0 earthquake hit Anchorage, and a massive blizzard caused a 70-car pileup on a freeway in Iowa.

Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more expensive. The average number of billion-dollar disasters per year over the last 5 years is more than double the average since 1980.

Ways you can plan ahead for a natural disaster

Preparing ahead of time can help negate any risks you and your family might face should disaster strike. To make sure your family is protected in the event of a natural disaster:

  • Check your insurance policies. Review your insurance policies, including life insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, car insurance and health insurance to make sure you’re fully protected.
  • Speak to your financial adviser. Speaking to your financial adviser will provide valuable insight on how you’re able to financially protect yourself and your family from the aftermath of a natural disaster.
  • Put together an emergency kit. Include important documents, first aid supplies, clothes, food, water and cash. Put your emergency bag in an easily accessible area, such as an entryway closet or the trunk of your car.
  • Stock your house. Keep enough food and water to last for at least several days, preferably a week or more to be cautious, in your house, along with flashlights, extra batteries and a radio.

Bottom line

While life insurance can’t prevent natural disasters from occurring, it can prevent your loved ones from being unable to pay the bills if something happens to you. Compare life insurance policies to find coverage that fits your needs and budget.

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