Direct Line magazine

What is an ‘Act of God’?

Updated on: 24 February 2021

waves batter the sea wall

An Act of God sounds very grand and biblical. But in this instance we’re not talking about swarms of locusts or water turning to blood.

Acts of God are actually events outside human control - like flash floods, earthquakes, volcanoes or other natural disasters. They’re often significant due to the massive amounts of damage they leave behind.

What am I insured for?

Insurance rates are based on risk. Fires and burst water pipes occur more frequently than hurricanes or earthquakes.

Obviously, there are no active volcanoes in the UK, so we don’t have to worry about them. Tornados, hurricanes and earthquakes aren’t unheard of, but when they do occur they’re much weaker than the ones we see in Hollywood movies.

Insurance companies aren’t trying to catch you out. They look at where you live and assess the risks in your area. If your home isn’t covered automatically, you can normally add on optional extras to boost your cover.

Can I protect my home?

You’re not defenceless against these natural disasters.

In the UK, damage from flooding is growing more common. If this is a known hazard in your area then it’s a really good idea to make sure your home insurance covers you in the event of a flood.

According to recent flooding statistics, around five million people live in flood risk areas in England and Wales, with one in six homes in England at risk of flooding.

The government-backed Flood Re scheme is designed to give further protection against flooding, by offering flood cover on home insurance.

If you’re worried about floods in your area, follow the advice from The Environment Agency and sign up for flood warnings. We also offer a guide on how to minimise flood damage.

What does buildings insurance cover?

Well, that all depends on the insurance company.

Buildings insurance usually covers your home for things like lightning and earthquakes, but every insurer is different. Make sure you check what’s covered before you buy.

The biggest earthquake ever recorded in the UK was in 1931, with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale. In more recent years, significant earthquakes have been recorded in Lincolnshire in 2008 (with a magnitude of 5.2) and South Wales in 2018 (with a magnitude of 4.6). So, although the risk may not be great, it’s always good to know where you stand.

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