Asteroids have once again made the news with reports of a special election-time present this year, a November 2nd asteroid named 2018 VP1. Though early reports sensationalized a collision, astronomers at NASA say that the odds of collision are just one in 240, with no damage to Earth should it actually collide.
“Close approaches by small objects of this size are not rare, and even if something of this size were to impact, the object would not likely survive the Earth’s atmosphere,” Donald Yeomans, a senior researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in an email to The New York Times.
End-of-the-world apocalyptic thrillers are a favorite American pastime, making movies like Armageddon and Deep Impact instant hits, but this recent brush with space has made us once again confront one major possibility: what if an asteroid hits my home?
[ Read: The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies ]
What Damage Can Asteroids Cause to Your Home?
Most asteroids are harmless, but what if one isn’t? What damage could an asteroid strike cause your home?
“If an asteroid hits your house, the effects could be catastrophic if it’s big enough,” says Melanie Musson, a home insurance expert. “Even a small asteroid will make a hole in your roof and subsequent levels until it encounters enough friction to cause it to come to a rest.”
That means trouble for your cherished belongings inside your home. “Asteroids fall with such force that they can destroy whatever they hit, whether it’s a bed, a piano, a TV, or a couch,” warns Musson.
This is where homeowners insurance is key. The standard homeowners insurance policy covers falling objects. This includes things like satellites, debris, meteors and asteroids. With this kind of coverage, you can repair and recover damages to your home’s structure, as well as your belongings inside.
How Common Are Asteroid Strikes?
An asteroid is a small, inactive formation of rocks that orbits the sun.
Asteroids are a common byproduct of life in space, creating deep craters within planets, but Earth is largely protected by its atmosphere. It is so protected, in fact, that no human has been reported to have been killed by a meteorite in the last 1,000 years.
NASA classifies asteroids according to three categories.
|Size of Asteroid/Debris
|Level of Damage
|Less than 25 meters (about 82 feet)
|Little to no damage
|25 meters – 1 kilometer
|Local damage to impact area
|Larger than 1 – 2 kilometers
|Catastrophic, worldwide damages
Occasionally, space debris like dust and sand particles collide with the Earth. In fact, NASA says that once a year, “an automobile-sized asteroid hits Earth’s atmosphere, creates an impressive fireball, and burns up before reaching the surface.”
In an article entitled “The Probability of Collisions with Earth,” NASA writes: “Most asteroids follow simple circular orbits between the planets Mars and Jupiter, but all of these asteroids are perturbed, occasionally by each other and more regularly and dramatically by Jupiter. As a result some find themselves in orbits that cross that of Mars or even Earth.”
The Earth’s atmosphere protects us from the multitude of small debris, the size of grains of sand or pebbles, thousands of which pelt our planet every day.
While there is an extremely low likelihood of one affecting your home, it never hurts to be prepared. Should your home be struck by a falling object, such as an asteroid, you’ll suddenly be grateful for all of those monthly premiums.
Home Insurance Coverage for Asteroid Strikes
Your homeowners insurance policy is based on a few different types of standard coverage:
- Dwelling coverage, which covers your home.
- Personal property coverage, which covers your property inside the home.
- Liability coverage, which covers legal fees related to bodily injury or property damage and paying for related losses
- Additional living expenses, which covers the cost
Personal property and liability coverage are not of concern here, although additional living expenses will cover many of your expenses should you have to seek alternate temporary shelter while your home is being repaired.
Dwelling coverage is what is key for asteroid strikes because this will handle the cost of the repair or rebuild of your home should it become damaged.
“Yes, homeowner’s insurance will cover the highly unlikely event of an asteroid hitting your house,” says Musson.
The fact that asteroids are so rare can actually work in your favor, she says. “Floods are usually excluded from policies, because they happen often enough that insurance companies don’t want to take on the risk unless you pay more. The chance of an asteroid hitting your house is so low that insurers don’t exclude asteroid damage, and they don’t offer separate asteroid policies.”
What to Do if You Experience an Asteroid Strike
If you experience an asteroid strike on your property, your homeowners insurance will protect you with your coverage of falling objects. You should proceed with filing a claim as you would for other property damage.
- Survey the damage.
As soon as it is safe, you should carefully inspect your home and the damage. Make a detailed inventory of all losses and damages for both the interior and exterior of your home.
- Contact your insurance provider.
Once you have assessed the damage, you should contact your insurance company immediately to notify them of the damage. An insurance representative will be able to walk you through your coverage, as well as any policy limits and deductibles.
- Complete all required documentation necessary.
Your insurer will require you to complete certain forms in order to process your claim. Complete the forms as honestly as you can and return to your provider as soon as possible.
- Meet with the adjuster.
More extensive damages will require that you work with an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will meet with you at your home to inspect and review damages before proceeding with your claim.
- Repair what you can.
Once you have met with the adjuster, make whatever minor repairs that you can in order to prevent additional damages, such as clearing debris and patching broken windows.
- Track all expenses.
Keep all receipts for reimbursement, whether they are for repairs and supplies or hotel and food bills from temporary housing.
When all is said and done, your claim should accomplish three different things:
- Explain what happened
- Detail what was lost
- Calculate how much is needed for reimbursement or repair
The Bottom Line
Asteroid strikes are incredibly rare, but they can still happen. Your homeowners insurance policy should protect you from falling objects like asteroids and meteors, which is why it is so crucial to arm yourself with the kind of coverage. Although it’s unlikely that you will encounter an asteroid in your home, you should still have the coverage to protect you in case space comes knocking at your door.
Photo by Claudio Ventrella / GettyImages