Man holding small umbrella over house model, Home Insurance Concept

“Act of God” Clause in Home Insurance Policies

Arnett & Arnett, PC June 14, 2023

A home is usually the largest investment any individual or family will make in their lifetimes in the United States. Buying a home involves several processes. For example, you will need a downpayment and qualify for a mortgage.  

However you acquire your residence, you want to make sure you protect it from adverse events that can cause damage. Perhaps a tree will fall over and strike your roof. It may cost thousands to repair. 

That’s where a homeowner’s policy comes into play -- to cover the expense of these unforeseen events. In fact, if you have a mortgage, the lender will insist upon your purchasing a homeowner’s insurance policy to protect their investment – and yours.  

A tree that falls onto your house may be a rare event; perhaps a giant windstorm caused the tree to uproot. Here’s where homeowner’s policies can get a bit self-defensive. Homeowners’ policies usually contain what is called an “Act of God” clause.   

God, in this instance, is used to indicate that certain events are not foreseeable or controllable by humans. They just happen. There are many events encompassed by these clauses, but two stand out – flooding and earthquakes. Your policy will invariably not cover damage from either of these Acts of God.  

If you’re purchasing or just purchased a home in or around Chandler, Arizona, and you want to better understand homeowner’s insurance and its Act of God clause, or if you are involved in a dispute with your insurer over damage from any source that it refuses to cover, contact us at Arnett & Arnett, P.C., for reliable legal guidance. 

We have more than 30 years of experience dealing with insurance company bad faith tactics. We will listen to your story and present your legal options to you. Arnett & Arnett, P.C. also proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and throughout Arizona. 

Role of the Act of God Clause

Insurance companies are for-profit entities, and they generally will use every means at their disposal – legal and sometimes borderline – to protect their bottom line. Act of God clauses are not only legal but are also contained in virtually every homeowner’s policy in one form or another. The goal of this clause, once again, is protecting the bottom line of the underwriting insurer.  

You must read your policy carefully before signing on to it. The wording may not actually contain the phrase “Act of God.” Instead, it may list specific events that will or will not be covered, and to what extent. Some events may warrant full coverage for damages, some for 50 percent, and some for no coverage. Your policy may also include a catchall phrase, such as "any other event beyond the reasonable control of a party.”  

Events listed in a standard homeowner’s policy often are hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, wildfires, windstorm, volcanic eruptions, flooding, and earthquakes. All will be generally covered except flooding and earthquakes. Even if you have hurricane protection, it will not extend to damage from flooding caused by the event. To cover your residence for damage from any of these two Acts of God, additional insurance will need to be purchased. 

What Is the Difference Between Act of God and Force Majeure?

An Act of God is a natural event, not manmade. Insurance policies also generally contain clauses regarding force majeure events.  These could include acts of war, contagion, and even government lockdowns. Force majeure events can also be excluded from coverage. 

Reviewing and Understanding Your Policy

Your homeowner’s policy can be lengthy, wordy, and written in a way that's not always easy to comprehend. Nonetheless, you should review your policy carefully. It may be more limiting than policies issued by other insurers. You can always reach out to us for clarification of clauses in your policy. 

Protect Your Home and Your Rights

In Arizona, there are between 40 and 100 floods a year. The frequency and severity of flooding may hinge on the region in which you live.  

You will want to factor in the potential for damage from the Acts of God when you purchase your homeowner’s policy. Our team at Arnett & Arnett, P.C. stands ready to advise you of your rights and help you exercise them when disputes arise with your insurer. Reach out to us with all your questions and concerns.