Everything You Need to Know About Acts of God & Insurance

An Act of God is generally considered to be any event that’s outside of human control and is unpredictable and unpreventable. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and storms are typical examples of such events.

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What is an Act of God?

An Act of God is generally considered to be any event that’s outside of human control and is unpredictable and unpreventable. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and storms are typical examples of such events.

However, when it comes to insurance, the precise definition of an Act of God is likely to vary depending on your insurer. This can cause ambiguity when raising insurance claims, so if you are at risk of being affected by such an event, it’s worth paying close attention when dealing with your insurance policy. Here are some of our top tips to help you:

1. Don’t assume anything

If you are unsure about what your insurance covers, ask your insurer for clarification before taking out your policy. The terminology used is likely to vary from one insurance policy to the next. Some may have a specific Act of God clause while others will simply refer to risks and perils.

2. Find out if you need any ad-ons or separate policies

Sometimes your standard home insurance policy will cover for you for certain Acts of God. Check both your buildings and your content insurance to check what cover you get as standard. The accidental cover section of your insurance policy may protect you against damage caused by natural causes such as flooding. But this isn’t always the case. You may need to pay extra to upgrade your policy, or get a separate policy specifically for certain circumstances like flooding.

If you’re getting travel insurance, make sure you are clear about the risks where you are travelling. Most basic policies don’t cover disruption caused by natural disasters as standard, so you’ll either need to get this as an ad-on or buy a separate policy. Since the disruption caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano in 2010, many polices now allow you to choose if you want to get protection against ash disruption.

3. Look for any exclusions

Your policy will have a section telling you about specific circumstances they don’t provide cover for and Acts of God are sometimes included in this list.

You may believe you are fully covered for weather damage but it’s common for home insurance policies to exclude damage caused to fences, gates and sheds.

If you run a business, find out what circumstances your professional indemnity insurance is likely to cover you for. It’s important to know what you might be entitled to if your business was affected by an Act of God. For instance, if delivering your goods or service is deemed to be ‘commercially impracticable’, meaning it is too complex or costly to fulfil your duties, you may be able to make a successful claim for cover.

4. Be honest

When you take out your policy, make sure you honestly report your level of risk and find out what it is if you don’t already know. The UK’s government website allows you to search for information about the long term risk of flooding in your local area.

If you do end up having to make a claim, don’t be tempted to embellish or omit any information either.

5. Be prepared

Even if your insurance policy covers a specific Act of God, you may still face a dispute with your insurer if they believe you hadn’t taken reasonable measures to prevent the damage occurring. For instance, if your roof isn’t in good repair, it may be more vulnerable to damage during heavy snowfall. You can take a number of steps to make sure your property is well maintained, such as:

  • Checking your drains
  • Checking your roof tiles are in good condition and fixing any which are broken
  • Repairing broken fences and cracks in walls
  • Raising your electricity sockets if possible, if you’re in a flood risk area
  • Avoiding planting large trees where they could fall and cause damage
  • Cutting down any trees which are risk of falling because of rotting for instance

6. Present evidence when making your claim

If you do have to make a claim, be prepared to present evidence that you took reasonable measures to prevent any damage occurring. For instance, in the case of flooding, be prepared to show flood prevention measures you put in place in your property, such as raising the level of your door. Make sure you also know what precautions have been taken to protect your local community.

The same goes for travel insurance, if your journey is disrupted by an Act of God, make sure you keep any evidence of expenses you hope to claim for, like hotel accommodation receipts. Also, try to keep such expenses to a minimum because there will probably be a cap on how much the insurance company will pay out.

If you need any further information, simply call our 24/7 National Helpline on
0844 544 1699 or, to request a call back dial 0330 022 9179.

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