As part of your homeowners insurance policy, hazard insurance protects the structure of your home against “hazards” like fire, hail, theft, vandalism, lightning, and more.
The average homeowners insurance policy costs $1,680 in annual premiums.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover floods, so you’ll need to buy a separate flood insurance policy.
Lemonade offers earthquake coverage in some states as an add-on.
Perhaps you knew going into the home buying process that your lender would require you to purchase home insurance. You might be confused, then, when you also hear your mortgage lender tell you that you’ll need hazard insurance.
Fortunately, the home insurance policy you purchase to qualify for your mortgage includes hazard insurance, so there’s no need to purchase two separate policies.
-What is hazard insurance?
If you find yourself wondering what, exactly, hazard insurance is, rest assured that it’s exactly as it sounds: it’s insurance that protects your home against, well, hazards!
Insurance nerds see “hazards” as things that increase the chances of something bad happening – but mortgage companies talk about ‘em differently (and, chances are, if you’re here, they asked you to get mortgage insurance!).
So what are hazards in mortgage speak, exactly? Things like:
What hazard insurance covers
Your insurance policy contains a “Perils Insured Against” section that spells out exactly which hazards your insurance company will cover, like a range of natural disasters. Most states cover 16 named perils, so if any of these happen, your insurer can help cover the costs after you’ve paid your deductible:
Fire or lightning
Windstorm or hail
Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
Accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam
Sudden and accidental tearing, cracking, burning, or bulging
Sudden and accidental damage due to short circuiting
While hazard insurance covers the physical structure of your home itself, your overall homeowners insurance policy includes a broader range of coverage, including personal property, other structures on your property, loss of use, and personal liability. As a refresher, here’s a primer on what your home insurance policy covers.
What hazard insurance doesn’t cover
While you’re covered for “named perils” like those above, not all perils are covered under your base homeowners or condo insurance policy. Typically, you’ll have to purchase separate flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program, as well as separate earthquake insurance.
While earthquake insurance isn’t a part of your base policy, Lemonade does offer earthquake coverage in certain states, and it takes just a few minutes to add it on.
Second, take note that hazard insurance covers your home structure only–aka dwelling coverage. It doesn’t cover the stuff inside your home. Think of it this way: if you turned your house upside down, everything that would fall is not covered by hazard insurance. But fear not – your stuff, (aka, ‘personal property’ in insurance speak) is covered by homeowners insurance, under your personal property coverage.
How hazard insurance works
Say your home needs to be completely rebuilt after it’s destroyed by a fire.
Its estimated reconstruction cost is $400,000, and fortunately, your Coverage A dwelling limit (the cost to rebuild your home) is $400,000, which means that once your claim is approved, you’re fully covered for the cost of rebuilding your home. Had you selected a lower limit—$350,000, say—you’d be on the hook for the remaining $50,000.
Your hazard insurance payouts will depend not only on the coverage limits you’ve selected, but also on the deductibles you pick. Your insurance policy’s declarations page will give you all the info you need.
Hazard insurance costs
Since hazard insurance is part of your homeowners insurance and you won’t have to purchase a separate hazard insurance policy, the cost of your homeowners insurance is effectively the cost of your hazard insurance. The average cost of a homeowners insurance policy in the United States is $1,680 per year, or $140 per month.
Of course, what you’ll pay for your home insurance depends on a wide range of factors, including your home’s condition, where you live, your claims history, and much more. One way to lower your premiums is to select a higher deductible; the flip side is that you’ll have to pay more towards your claim before your insurance company chips in.
How much hazard insurance do I need?
Because hazard insurance coverage is part of your home insurance policy, getting sufficiently covered is all a matter of making sure your home insurance coverage reflects what it would actually cost to rebuild your home if it were destroyed by a covered hazard. With reconstruction costs climbing amid inflation, you’ll want to make sure that your homeowners insurance policy includes enough dwelling coverage.