Earlier this week we experienced a rare earthquake here in Lancaster County.  Some people were surprised to learn that a “standard” property policy does not cover damage caused by earthquake.

Now with Hurricane Irene warnings issued for the entire east coast, including Lancaster County, the popular question being asked is – Do I have hurricane coverage?

The answer is – it depends!

Let me explain.  “Hurricane” is defined by NOAA as the most severe category of the meteorological phenomenon known as the “tropical cyclone.” When the winds exceed 74 mph (64 kt), the storm is considered to be a hurricane.

Two key components of a hurricane are high winds and heavy rain.  The word “hurricane” is not found in a  property insurance policy.  Property insurance does cover damage from wind. That is why tornado damage is covered even though the word “tornado” is not found in a property insurance policy either.  All tornado and hurricanes are wind, but not all wind is tornado or hurricane.

The 2nd component of a hurricane is heavy rain.  Rain can cause flooding.  Damage from flood is not covered by a property policy. It does not matter whether the flooding comes from heavy rain, overflow of a stream or river, or waves from the ocean.

Hopefully now you understand why the answer to the question is – it depends. If wind does the damage – yes it’s covered.  If water does the damage – not covered.  Flood insurance covers water damage.  If you do not have flood insurance already, it is too late to get coverage for Irene.  Flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period.

Let’s hope Irene does little damage.