What’s an Act of God in Homeowners Insurance?

Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover damage from an “act of God,” depending on the type of event that causes the damage.

Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco
  • 13+ years writing insurance and personal finance content

  • Insurance, lending, and retirement expert

Jacqueline has contributed content, and her personal finance passion, to dozens of noteworthy financial brands, including Credit Karma, Bankrate, and MagnifyMoney.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated April 18, 2023 | Reading time: 4 minutes

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When you hear the term “act of God” mentioned in the context of homeowners insurance, it typically refers to events that can damage or destroy a home. These events include natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes. However, homeowners insurance typically excludes floods and earthquakes, which are also acts of God. Other major natural disasters may be included in act of God coverage, so it’s important to check with your insurance provider.

Keep reading to learn more about what constitutes an act of God and how to make sure you have the appropriate coverage for your home.

What’s an act of God?

An act of God isn’t an insurance term you’ll come across in your homeowners policy. You will, however, find the term frequently used to describe damaging events that lead to insurance claims. But these events can’t be human-made acts, such as vandalism or theft.

An act of God is usually a sudden and unexpected natural disaster. Unfortunately, some natural events, such as floods and earthquakes, typically aren’t covered.[1]

Hurricanes, hail, and tornadoes are good examples of acts of God. Fire can also be considered an act of God if caused by a lightning strike. But if you accidentally start a fire while cooking, that would be considered a human-made act and wouldn’t be covered.

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Acts of God homeowners insurance will cover

These acts of God are commonly covered perils:

  • Hurricane

  • Tornado

  • Lightning

  • Wildfire

  • Hail

  • Volcano

  • Freezing

  • Snowstorm

These perils won’t be referred to as acts of God in your homeowners insurance policy, but understanding which perils are covered will show you what supplemental coverages may be necessary to reach your coverage goals.

Acts of God homeowners insurance won’t cover

Even though natural disasters aren’t the homeowner’s fault, standard homeowners policies don’t cover some acts of God, including:

  • Earthquakes: Generally, you have to purchase a rider for earthquake coverage.

  • Sinkholes: You can look into purchasing a rider if you worry your home is at risk of sinkhole damage.

  • Flooding: Flooding typically isn’t covered by homeowners insurance policies, and you have to purchase coverage through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Policy types that cover acts of God

It’s possible to buy additional coverage for acts of God not covered in a standard homeowners policy:

  • Earthquake insurance: Because standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover earthquake damage, you need to purchase either a separate earthquake policy or an endorsement in addition to your standard homeowners insurance policy. You can buy this coverage through private insurance companies.[2]

  • Sinkhole insurance: Sinkhole damage can be very expensive to repair, and, as a result, insurance companies rarely include this act of God in their standard policies. Some states require that insurance providers offer additional sinkhole coverage that can be added to a base policy. In either event, your insurer will usually inspect your home before issuing sinkhole coverage.[3]

  • Flood insurance: Flood damage is another very expensive act of God and is the most common natural disaster that affects U.S. homeowners. The NFIP backs coverage for floods, making it a great place to start your coverage search.[4]

Finally, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, or tornadoes, you might need to increase your coverage limits to ensure your home and belongings are adequately protected from these risks. Talking to your insurance agent can help you better understand your insurance needs.

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How to file a home insurance claim for an act of God

If you need to file a claim due to an act of God, you generally need to take the following steps:

  1. Call the insurance company. Start by calling the insurance provider that issued the policy that covers the event. This may be your main homeowners insurance policy provider or the company that issued the policy for perils not covered by your main policy, such as flood insurance.

  2. Complete claim forms. Your insurance provider will walk you through what they need in regards to paperwork.

  3. Meet with an insurance inspector. After you finish all the necessary claim forms, an insurance adjuster will likely stop by your home to inspect any damage.

  4. Create a list of damages. Take detailed notes on any structures of the home or belongings in the home that are damaged and require repair or replacement.

  5. Hold onto receipts. If you need to make temporary repairs before you’re reimbursed by the insurance company or need to stay in a hotel while you wait for repairs to be finished, save your receipts to make reimbursement easier afterward.

Act of God insurance FAQs

To help ensure you have the right coverage to protect your home, here are answers to some commonly asked questions about act of God insurance coverage.

  • Do you have to believe in God to have act of God coverage?

    No. You don’t need to believe in God in order to have act of God coverage for natural disasters. The term simply stems from the fact that these perils aren’t human-made, like theft or vandalism.

  • Does car insurance cover acts of God?

    It’s possible. Car insurance coverage can cover acts of God, such as falling rocks or trees that damage your car. It’s always a good idea to check what covered perils are included in your policy to understand what type of protection you have.

  • Can an insurer cancel your policy due to an act of God?

    No. Homeowners insurance companies can’t cancel a policy because you filed a claim for an act of God. Cancellations can only occur if the policyholder failed to pay their premium, committed fraud, or misrepresented themselves seriously on their application.

  • Is wear and tear over time considered an act of God?

    No. Natural wear and tear that occurs to a home over time isn’t considered an act of God. Acts of God are reserved for unexpected events not caused by people, such as natural disasters.

  • Does where you live affect your act of God coverage?

    It’s possible. Where you live can increase the likelihood of natural disasters and other events that may be considered acts of God. For example, living in Kansas may put you at more risk of tornadoes and may increase the cost of your insurance policy, as you’re more likely to file a claim for tornado damage.


  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Am I Covered?."
  2. III. "Background on: Earthquake insurance and risk."
  3. III. "Sinkholes and insurance."
  4. III. "Spotlight on: Flood insurance."
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco

During college, Jacqueline DeMarco interned at a retirement plan advisory firm and was tasked with creating a presentation on the importance of financial wellness. During her research into how money can affect our health, relationships and career, Jacqueline realized just how important financial education is. Jacqueline is a contributor for Insurify and has worked with more than a dozen financial brands, including LendingTree, Capital One, Credit Karma, Fundera, Chime, Bankrate, Student Loan Hero, ValuePenguin, SoFi, and Northwestern Mutual, providing thoughtful content to give readers insight into complex topics that they likely didn’t learn in school.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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