The number of lives lost from natural disasters can vary from year to year; some years pass with very few deaths before a large disaster event takes far too many lives. According to Our World in Data, if you look at the average over the past decade, roughly 60,000 people globally died from a natural disaster. 

Our World in Data has found that in many years, the number of deaths can frequently be less than 10,000. But they also see the horrific impact of shock events such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami; 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, LA; and the 2010 Port-au-Prince earthquake in Haiti. 

What is a Natural Disaster?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, a natural disaster includes all types of severe weather, which can pose a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security. All natural disasters are typically described to be an instance that causes building and/or structural damage due to natural causes that are out of human control.

Natural disasters occur both seasonally and without warning, causing the country to experience frequent periods of disturbance, uncertainty, financial loss, and even possible death. There are numerous types of natural disasters, including winter storms, floods, tornados, hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, or any combination of the-like.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover a Natural Disaster?

Most natural disasters are uncertain and tough to gauge. Because of this, it can oftentimes be challenging to recuperate losses for damages to properties you own. 

To make sure that you are protected when disaster strikes, it is important to consider whether your renters’ or homeowners insurance policy covers natural disasters when renting or buying a home. Natural disasters can include:

  • Lightning strikes
  • Hail Damage
  • Mudslides
  • Rockslides
  • Tsunamis
  • Other common natural disasters

Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover a wide range of situations; however, other possible disasters need to be added to your policy. Homeowners’ insurance policies are important to have so that when a catastrophic disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, happens, a homeowner does not have to pay out-of-pocket to fix any damage that occurred. Insurance policies cover anything from items lost to theft or even fire damage caused by certain natural disasters.

When a natural disaster strikes, insurance companies have a duty to ensure that their clients receive payment in a reliable and feasible way. Policyholders specifically pay their premiums on time in order to obtain insurance coverage during horrific times like these.

High-Risk Areas

Traditionally, natural disasters are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy if you live in a high-risk area, such as a flat area on the edge of a river or along an active fault. Because of this lack of coverage, homeowners typically purchase supplemental policies that cover specific types of natural disasters depending on the conditions in where their home is located. However, if you live in a high-risk area, you can potentially pay more for your general policy to cover that increased risk.


Since flooding can come in many different forms, not all sources of flooding are treated equally. Flooding can come from:

  • Rivers
  • Plumbing failures
  • Coastal surges or sneak waves
  • Sinkholes
  • Excess rain

Relatively speaking, most homeowner policies specifically exclude flood-related damage. The only exception is cases that are directly related to flooding from damaged plumbing infrastructure, such as a leaking pipe.

However, if you live in an area where floods happen frequently, you can purchase a special flood protection policy. In 1968, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created so that homeowners in flood-prone areas could buy flood insurance. The NFIP is through private insurance companies but is supported by the United States government. The cost of flood insurance through the NFIP is decided by the measures the community you live in has taken to reduce the risk of flood damage.

Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Homeowners’ insurance policies cover any wind damage as the outcome of natural disasters (mostly hurricanes); however, they exclude the flooding that often follows storm surges from hurricanes. 

Damage as the result of a tornado is usually covered, such as:

  • Any and all damage considered to be wind damage
  • Water damage related to tornadoes (e.g., rain that comes through a roof that was damaged in a tornado)

Most states on the East and Gulf coast are susceptible to hurricanes; however, states like Florida and Louisiana are the most vulnerable due to their close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Individuals that reside in these states should heavily consider purchasing flood insurance or certain “beach and windstorm” insurance to protect their homes in the case of a hurricane damaging them.

Most insurance companies are looking to make enormous amounts of money, and hurricanes can cost a state or region tens of billions of dollars in property damage. Due to these insurance companies’ money-making motives, it is important to fully understand every detail of your homeowners’ insurance policy, especially if you live in a high-risk area. For instance, various hurricane insurance claims involve debates over how the terms “wind damage” and “flood damage” are specified by insurance companies. 


Several different elements determine the cost of earthquake insurance. Those elements include:

  • Location of the house
  • Materials used in its construction
  • The way it is constructed
  • The integrity of its foundation
  • Number of stories or levels
  • Home's insured value
  • Policyholder's chosen level of coverage

Even if a homeowner lives in an area that is not necessarily known for earthquake activity, they still have the option of purchasing supplemental earthquake insurance at a decently low premium. For example, individuals that reside in Missouri can purchase very inexpensive earthquake insurance even though the state is situated on the unfamiliar but potentially catastrophic New Madrid Fault. 


Even if you do not live near an active volcano, your homeowners’ insurance policy most likely covers damage from an unlikely volcanic eruption. Standard policies particularly cover damage related to:

  • Ash
  • Dust
  • Particulate matter
  • Lava flow
  • Initial removal of these materials

Standard policies do not cover:

  • Landslides
  • Shock waves
  • Tremors
  • Ash deposited later (from the wind)

An individual that owns a home near an active volcano, even in parts of Washington, can purchase additional coverage for volcanic disasters to ensure their home is protected in the instance a volcano erupts and damages their home.

The bottom line is that when a natural disaster strikes, you should be able to rely on your insurance company to help repair any damage that is covered within the policy that you hold with them. Unfortunately, more times than not, insurance companies underpay on their claims or deny a claim altogether in order to profit as much as possible. If you have the right coverage but the company claims that you do not, an attorney can review your policy and help you recover full compensation. Contact our skilled attorneys at The Cochran Firm today to help you fight for the settlement you deserve for natural disaster damages.

Insurance Companies Underpaying on Claims

Most insurance companies are after one thing and one thing only: money. In order to make as much money as possible, insurance companies use many strategies to underpay on claims or even deny the claim completely. Some of these strategies include:

  • Claiming that the type of damage is not covered in a clients’ policy
  • Applying inaccurate markdowns to determine the value of an asset
  • Using inaccurate, outdated price lists when construction prices have increased
  • Failing to value the cost of repairs/replacements accurately, especially pertaining to objects
  • Standing in the way of processing a claim in hopes of increasing the likelihood that a policyholder will become desperate and agree to a smaller payout.

Businesses have even found that by lowballing insurance holder’s cases, they can save millions of dollars.

While the federal government funds flood insurance plans and there is no revenue intention in this case, in homeowners protection, where businesses pay out of their own pockets, they do obtain earnings and have full intention of profit.

Examples of Insurance Companies Underpaying on Claims

Hurricane Isaac

In one lawsuit, Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, a state-run insurance company, was sued for underpayment of property insurance claims after Hurricane Isaac hit. Legal actions varied regarding the insurance policies breach of contract. There were some claims that were underpaid by $40,000 and others by up to $70,000. After the disastrous storm, many families could not repair their homes because of the deliberate claim underpayment.

Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy hit, many insurance policyholders were refused insurance policy protection for damages suffered after flooding from the storm. Fabricated reports established that damage to the house “existed before the storm” or could have been “due to natural planet activity.” After this storm, experts in the field of insurance plans identified that insurance companies systematically rejected reputable insurance policy cases as well as severely underpaid what they should have. 

The fact of the matter is that many insurance companies will do whatever it takes to make a profit, even if it is at the expense of one of their clients. Luckily, our experienced attorneys at The Cochran Firm are ready to help you fight for fair settlements for the damages you have suffered due to a natural disaster.

Has Your Property Been Damaged Due to a Natural Disaster?

If you have experienced the nightmare of seeing your property become extremely damaged by the brutal forces that accompany a natural disaster, you are likely facing tremendously expensive repairs. 

The ridiculously strong winds that hurricanes and tornadoes bring habitually cause horrific damage to communities throughout the United States, a fact that is only augmented by the risk of flood damage. States with dry, hot summers are susceptible to wildfires that rapidly consume enormous areas of land, blazing out of control and burning anything along its path.

Earthquakes also cause significant damage because of their rattling of structures, causing harm and destruction to anyone and anything standing in its way. Winter storms bring excessive hail and freezing temperatures that often cause extreme damage to your property. Fortunately, our experienced, resourceful natural disaster attorneys at The Cochran Firm know just what to do and are eager to help you navigate your claim during this unprecedented time.

How Do I Handle a Natural Disaster Claim?

Dealing with the impact of a hurricane, tornado, fire, or any other natural disaster can be very stressful and even scary. Policyholders expect their insurance companies to fix any damage related to a natural disaster once a claim is filed; however, that is not always the case. Actually, policyholders often make filing mistakes that can cost them thousands of dollars. This reality is usually related to consumers failing to read the fine print of their policy, leading to being underinsured and sometimes even paying for coverage out of their own pocket.

So, if you are unsure of what your insurance policy will cover to file a successful claim, consider the following things when filing your natural disaster claim.

  1. Assess the damages you have incurred. Make sure to take photographs and keep a list of the property that has been damaged. Be very sure that you do not throw out any property until an insurance adjuster has reviewed it for your claim. You can try and make temporary repairs to your home and move your personal property into storage if your house cannot be locked. Insurance policies can allow for the reimbursement of storage units until you can move back into your home.
  2. Go through your policy carefully and make sure you understand what can be covered in regards to clean-up ad repairs. Most insurance policies reimburse for mold, painting, carpet, wall repairs (or insulation), and rewiring and electric work. 
  3. If you can still reside in your house, but your home needs repairs as a result of a natural disaster, make sure to consult with your insurance provider about the repairs that need to be made urgently. Make sure you document all of your expenses (keep receipts) no matter if you made the repairs yourself or hired someone else to do so.
  4. If you are not able to reside in your house after a natural disaster, make sure to record all of your expenses (meals, hotel rooms, transportation, etc.). A typical insurance policy usually provides a limited amount of coverage for these expenses.
  5. Be aware that the majority of insurance companies have a time limit on when you can file a claim, so it is extremely important to file your claim as soon as possible. Once you file a claim, your insurance provider will send out an adjuster to survey the damage of your house at no cost to you. Before you agree to the settlement terms, you may have an independent contractor of your choice review the adjuster’s survey or go over the inspection to make sure that all damage that needs to be covered will be covered.
  6. Make sure to keep up with your claim. If you believe there is a delay on your claim by the insurance company and you have contacted the claims department, and they have not gotten back to you, make sure to consult with an attorney to advance your claim.
  7. Don’t be scared to NOT agree to a settlement. When it comes down to it, insurance companies aim to profit as much as they can, so it is possible their settlement offer is less than you deserve. 

Even if you act in a timely manner when submitting your claim, there are many reasons why your claim could be delayed or, worse, denied. You could be denied because you are underinsured, or in some instances, you may have sufficient coverage, but you will not be compensated the full amount due to the terms and conditions of your policy. In this case, you will not be denied coverage; however, you will have to pay the remaining expenses out of pocket. Unfortunately, your coverage can be rejected if your home is damaged by a natural disaster that you do not have coverage for. 

If you feel as if you have been taken advantage of by your insurance company after a natural disaster strikes, contact The Cochran Firm today. Our experienced attorneys are ready to walk you through the difficult legal process and will fight for you until you receive the compensation you deserve. 

Why Choose The Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love that has suffered from a natural disaster claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. Our attorneys have won over $30 Billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

If you’re looking for an experienced natural disaster lawyer to help you pursue justice and obtain compensation for your losses, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.