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.
“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.
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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.