If a Meteorite Hits Your Home, Are You Insured?

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It’s been an odd day for Earth and celestial objects. A 10-ton meteorite exploded near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, injuring hundreds and causing widespread panic. Meanwhile, a 143,000-ton asteroid passed just 17,000 miles away from Earth around 2:30 Eastern today, a little too close for comfort. All this talk of dangerous rocks falling from the sky — as NASA scientist Don Yeomans recently told my TIME colleague Jeffrey Kluger, a basketball size object hits the earth’s atmosphere every day — may have you wondering how a meteor shower or asteroid collision could theoretically affect your family or property.

If a meteorite crashes through your roof, the damage to your house and belongings would generally be covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a consumer education organization funded by the insurance industry. Meteorites are classified as a falling object, one of the many “named perils” for which insurance companies cover personal property damage. Other odd perils include a volcanic eruption, a riot, and a falling airplane.

(MORE: Asteroid Hits Earth! How the Doomsday Scenario Would Play Out)

“Your building is covered for all risks, except for the things that are specifically mentioned as excluded,” says David Vales, a claim team manager for State Farm. Named exclusions typically include relatively common natural disasters like floods and earthquakes, but also man-made problems like a nuclear accident, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Thankfully meteorites are not common enough to warrant charging an extra premium from insurance companies.

While you’re likely covered if a space rock hits your house directly, things would be more complicated (in a lot of ways, obviously) if an Armageddon-sized asteroid like the one cruising near Earth today entered your vicinity. Standard insurance policies only cover personal property damage in your house if the falling object blasts directly through your roof or your walls. If an asteroid slams into the Earth a mile away from your house and your prized art deco sculptures tumble to the ground and shatter, insurance isn’t likely to cover it. Ditto for a huge explosion centered miles above the ground like the one caused by a massive asteroid on June 30, 1908, near the Tunguska River in Central Russia, which leveled everything in a 14-mile radius.

“It’s got to be a direct hit,” says Michael Barry, vice president for Media Relations at the Insurance Information Institute. “It can’t be something that happened down the block.” What if the object’s so big that it wipes out entire houses for miles, as the nearby asteroid would if it made a direct hit? That’s a cataclysmic bridge insurers will cross when they come to it, apparently. “Once you get beyond a direct hit of the house, the coverage is going to be open to interpretation,” says Berry.

The rules for meteors are actually no different than for a much more common falling object: trees. Your car would also be insured in this instance of cosmically bad luck, assuming you have comprehensive auto insurance.

(MORE: (Very) Close Encounter)

Vales and a State Farm spokeswoman couldn’t recall any prior instances of people making claims for meteor damage, but other weird things have come tumbling from the sky. Vales says one woman was able to make a claim under the “falling objects” provision when a jet engine, which had fallen off an airliner, damaged a room in her home. One customer’s house was even damaged by “blue ice,” the frozen discharge that comes from airplane bathrooms. That might be a fate worse than a meteorite crash.

49 comments
frankthomas
frankthomas

It also pays to add a separate rider to cover any expensive things you may have like the "prized art deco sculptures" that were used in the article above. Riders are highlighted at http://homeinsurancegeorgia.info to protect jewelry, antiques and works of art.

Lets hope that there are no falling asteroids in any of our futures!

Clark_Nova
Clark_Nova

Can we do without all of the useless twitter posts that add nothing to the discussion?

Clark_Nova
Clark_Nova

Do you understand the difference between 10 tons and 10,000 tons? Stop spreading misinformation.

VincentWolf
VincentWolf

Well damage from the meteor may or may not be covered.  It depends on how the damage occurred.  

For example, if the big rock hits a lake next to your home--and flushes gazillions of gallons of water over and into your home--that requires flood insurance and you WON'T be covered!!

cairne.morane
cairne.morane

That was a 10 *thousand* ton meteor, not a 10 ton meteor.

Denesius
Denesius

What nonsense! Gee, you might as well ask 'if a UFO landed in your community, and the landing strut crushed your car, would you be covered?' I don't know- whatya think? Am I covered? Do I give a hoot??

amanda888
amanda888

Whoever it was on here that recommended the website Traders Superstore I want to say thanks. You are right they have been very helpful to me in learning to trade. I now have hope that I can quit my job and trade full-time. Trading is not as hard as I thought it was but it helps to learn from the right place.


AdiBara91
AdiBara91

@TIME @TIMEBusiness ...gotta get one of those

AdiBara91
AdiBara91

@TIME @TIMEBusiness ... gotta get one of those

RNicholsonJr
RNicholsonJr

RT@TIME @timebusiness The Actuarial profession has just experienced a game change.

OUTsurance
OUTsurance

@Derro_SA @TIME @TIMEBusiness We offer the cover: natural insured peril. Welcome to e-mail me for further enquireis: wenholdd@out.co.za.Tx

TheRajFather
TheRajFather

@PeaceLibLady @TIME @TIMEBusiness #Faith

intranautt
intranautt

@TIME @TIMEBusiness Just asteroids, not meteors

lifesmandarin
lifesmandarin

@TIME @TIMEBusiness Can you, can we dodge from the destiny's call?

ofula_stanley
ofula_stanley

@janetabondo @TIMEBusiness After Railway accident Eng. Musuva would equate this one as God's act...

HolyPizzaPie
HolyPizzaPie

@TIME @TIMEBusiness Moar like do you have PIZZA insurance. Ya Fuq.

ofula_stanley
ofula_stanley

@janetabondo @TIMEBusiness After Railway accident ask Eng.Musuva it will God's act

Sad_Onion
Sad_Onion

@TIME @timebusiness LOL insurance companies play dumb with the usual stuff already...

MrsPoonamRaut
MrsPoonamRaut

@TIME OUR LIC companies have no THIS type of insurance facilities. When it will start, we will do that surely. :-)

Storminc72
Storminc72

@TIME @TIMEBusiness hi, I'm raising funds for my friend he is stranded in a foreign country to return to US email: serenawiperi@yahoo.co.nz

selengulun
selengulun

“@TIME: Are you insured against a meteorite strike? http://t.co/3jahQj2h (via @TIMEBusiness)” paranoid android çalsın fonda da!

ajaylohar10
ajaylohar10

@TIME @TIMEBusiness slaves live for a day //

MbPradas
MbPradas

@TIME @TIMEBusiness A fun fact tweet!

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

How on Earth did this article get published??

The chances of Earth getting hit by a sizable meteorite are 1 in 100 million.  

It's no wonder TIME Magazine continues its decline in revenues, readership, and relevancy...

minus34
minus34

@TheRealEdDawson (personal comment) Generally speaking - if it's not excluded, its covered no matter how bizarre or impossible it seems!

andrea314052
andrea314052

@Corriereit @TIME Se stipulate la polizza vi danno in omaggio quella per asteroidi oltre il milione...di tonnellate!

gioicaro
gioicaro

@Corriereit @TIME Ho una collezione di Santi Protettori e di Arcangeli e Angeli!!

SPeteDave
SPeteDave

@colonialdude @TIME @TIMEBusiness Acts of god are not covered. Thanks for playing.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Has to be a direct hit......so one house in a 10 mile area gets covered; as usual the insurance industry does what it does best:  charge premiums and not pay claims.  I hope when Elizabeth Warren gets done with the banks (which shall not be too soon) she looks at the next set of legal thieves.

jdawsey1
jdawsey1

@VLuck If your apartment still doesn't have a buzzer system, does that change the insurance quandary?

Derro_SA
Derro_SA

.@OUTsurance Thanks for the info re meteorite cover. I'm good for now but will keep an eye out for any flying objects heading my way!

VLuck
VLuck

@jdawsey1 Ha this tweet is in the comments section of the story. You're famous(er)!