Does insurance cover damage from volcanoes?

Mount St. Helens erupting on May 18, 1980.

Mount St. Helens erupted 40 years ago today, on May 18, 1980.

If you lived in Washington state in 1980, you likely have a recollection or story about Mount St. Helens’ eruption. Even if you lived elsewhere you may remember, as it made national and international news when it happened.

We haven’t had a major eruption since then, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Washington state is home to five active volcanoes.

The five volcanos in Washington state. Courtesy of WA DNR.

Mount St. Helens’ eruptions was triggered by a 5.1-magnitude earthquake. A lot of people don’t know that homeowner insurance doesn’t cover damage from earthquakes— you need a separate policy for earthquake coverage.

Here are some frequently asked questions about volcanoes and insurance.

Q: Does insurance cover damage from a volcano eruption?

A: Homeowner insurance covers the following due to a volcanic eruption:

  • Ash.
  • Dust.
  • Particle matter.
  • Lava flow.

Initial removal of ash, dust or particle matter from the interior or exterior of your home.

If you experience several eruptions within a 72-hour period, your homeowner policy treats any damage as one loss, which means you only pay one deductible.

Q: What happens if my car gets damaged after an eruption?

A: If you have comprehensive auto coverage, you can file a claim. Remember that you’ll have to pay your deductible, so weigh the repair cost against it. If the repair cost doesn’t exceed your deductible, you may want to pay cash for repairs to avoid having a claim on your record, which can increase your premiums.

Q: Is there damage that isn’t covered by homeowner insurance?

A: If your house is damaged by floods or mudflows, you would need flood insurance in order to be covered. Read more about flood insurance.

And, as mentioned above, any damage caused by earth movement would be covered by a separate earthquake insurance policy.

Later ash deposits caused by wind may be covered by insurance if they cause damage but would likely require a separate deductible.



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WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.