The devastation of Hurricane Dorian may cause you to wonder how well your homeowners or renters insurance will hold up in a natural disaster. The answer depends on the disaster. Damage from many perils are covered by a standard policy, but a handful of perils are not and require separate coverage for protection.

Even if your insurance covers the peril, it may not be enough. Many homeowners and renters don’t have adequate protection to cover all of their losses. In 2019, changes to the tax law reduce or eliminate deductions for uninsured losses.

Damage from flooding and earth movement – which includes earthquakes, mudslides, landslides, sinkholes and mine subsidence – are excluded from homeowners, condo and renters insurance.

To get flood and mudslide protection, you must buy a separate policy from the federally funded National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. You also must buy separate coverage for your possessions; these are not automatically included in a flood policy.

Flood insurance rates are based on the flood zone you live in. These zones where determined by the federal government and have been updated within the past 10 years. You also may be required to get an elevation determination survey, which will help determine your exact exposure to flooding and can raise or lower your flood premium.

Fortunately, floods do not occur every year. Unfortunately, some people forget they do occur and let their flood insurance lapse or fail to update their coverage.

Faced with a higher amount of bank foreclosures, because of lapsed flood insurance, the federal government requires all federally insured banks that issue a mortgage to require the mortgagee to purchase flood insurance. If a bank requires you to purchase flood insurance, it must provide all the information, such as the flood zone you are in, to you to make the process easier.

Please remember,r the bank is only going to require enough coverage to cover the amount of your loan.

For earthquakes, you may buy a separate policy from a private insurer or some private insurers may offer endorsements to your current home policy.

Some home insurance policies may also exclude specific weather events, or require higher deductibles for perils such as windstorms. Read your policy or ask your agent if these restrictions apply to you.

The danger of mine subsidence is not new to anyone who has lived in Western Pennsylvania . When a mine is active, the mining company is usually responsible for any damage caused by the operation of the mine. Once mining is completed, the property owner needs to purchase mine subsidence insurance.

Coal mining in Pennsylvania began in mid-1700s, and there are hundreds of closed mines in this end of the state. Contact your insurance agent, who can determine whether there is a mine under your property. Mine subsidence insurance is provided by the state of Pennsylvania and can be purchased through any licensed agent.

I have mentioned in previous articles that home insurance policies have limits on items such as jewelry, guns, coins and other collectibles. To insure your valuables, you may need a personal articles policy. These policies are designed to insure single items or multiple items of value. One important feature of these policies is they are written on an all-risk basis, meaning your valuables will be covered for practically everything that could happen to them.

Lastly, limits for liability in your home insurance and auto policy may require you to purchase a Personal Liability Umbrella Policy, which will increase the amount of personal liability coverage you have on your home and autos. Talk to your insurance agent to find out what gaps in coverage you may have.

Bob Hollick is a State Farm Insurance agent based in Washington.

To submit columns on financial planning, investing or business-related matters, email Rick Shrum at

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