Even though the late summer is typically hurricane season, many areas of the nation experience a different phenomenon at this season: droughts. The lack of rain this year has resulted in droughts in much of the country, with a significant portion of the Midwest under extreme drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. These droughts cause a different type of problem for homeowners than those brought on by rain and floods. Even more concerning is the fact that these types of damage may not be covered by your home insurance policy. However, there are some steps you can take to protect your home from uncovered drought-related damages.
Like many homeowners, you are probably aware of the dangers that floods pose to both property and persons. Water is a basic peril insured against in the standard home insurance policy. In fact, floods present their own unique risk and have a whole system of flood insurance developed around the peril. Unfortunately, not many people contemplate the dangers of too little water. While it’s commonly understood that droughts can affect crops and other vegetation, you probably have not contemplated the problems that can strike your home as a result of droughts. A recent story in Business Insider” details some of the drought problems experienced by homeowners across the country.
Prolonged droughts cause the soil around your home to dry out and contract, which can also make it move or shift. This then leads to the settling and cracking of your home and its foundation. Unfortunately, these types of damage are generally excluded from the standard home insurance policy. For example, the policies usually exclude damage to your home from settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging, or expansion of pavements, patios, foundations, walls, floors, roofs, or ceilings. As if that weren’t enough, the policies go further to exclude damage from earth movement, which is generally defined as the sinking, rising, shifting, expanding, or contracting of earth, all whether combined with water or not.
So, what can you do as a concerned homeowner? The best thing is to be vigilant and monitor the soil and your foundation. If you see areas of erosion or settling starting to appear, take immediate steps to keep the problem from deteriorating. Waiting for rain or some other natural solution is likely a poor choice and will ultimately result in costly repairs that are not covered by insurance. At the same time, keep in mind that simply watering your property in the hopes of moistening the soil is not exactly the best solution, either. Overwatering of the soil can cause it to heave and result in additional, or different, damage to your house’s foundation. These damages are also not covered by your home insurance policy.
Be sure to consult an expert in soils and foundations who can give you professional advice about protecting your home. In the world of home ownership and maintenance, too little water can be just as damaging as too much water and these cities have a history of drought-related problems: Jacksonville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Tucson – so watch out!