On Friday, February 15th, a meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere at approximately 9:20 a.m. above Chelyabinsk, a town of about 1 million inhabitants in central Russia. The 50 foot wide, 7,700 ton meteor caused a blinding flash of light as it traveled at 40,000 miles per hour or over 52 times the speed of sound. Most of the meteor’s energy was consumed in the upper atmosphere about 9 miles above the earth’s surface. The energy released in the upper atmosphere was equivalent to at least 20 atomic bombs about the size of one exploded above Hiroshima.
The shock waves that reached Chelyabinsk and the surrounding area blew out an estimated 1 million square feet of glass in about 3,000 buildings and injured about 1,100 people. Most injuries were caused by flying glass. The roof of a zinc factory partially collapsed as a result of the shock wave that struck the city.
This meteor was smaller than one that struck Siberia on June 30, 1908, referred to as the Tunguska event. That meteor exploded at an altitude of about 5 miles producing two shock waves, one from it exploding and the other by its flight path. Those two shock waves flattened millions of trees over an area of about 825 square miles, as well as snapping trees and breaking windows up to 40 miles away.
Being an insurance agent, this event made me think about the insurance implications if such an event happened over Texas. If this meteor had happened over one of our more heavily populated areas such as Dallas / Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio or Austin, would the glass breakage and flattened roofs be covered?
There are three potential types of home insurance coverage that would come into play from the typical Texas home insurance policy:
- Glass breakage
- Falling objects
Glass Coverage: Most Texas home insurance policies have an option for glass coverage. This coverage is designed to cover windows up to a specific amount, usually $100 to $125 per pane, per window. Depending on the insurance company, the deductible ranges from $0 to $250.
- If this option were included on your policy, the glass breakage would be covered for nothing to little out of pocket.
- If this option is not included in your policy, then the amount of damage would have to exceed your deductible, usually 1% of the dwelling’s value, for the home policy to begin to pay for damage.
Wind Coverage: Wind coverage is a part of the wind/hail coverage built into most Texas home policies unless it’s been excluded. In the coastal areas of our state, this may be a separate coverage designed mostly to protect the home in the event of a hurricane. In either case, as long as the coverage has been purchased this should protect from the shock wave that was produced by the meteor. For those along the coast, remember there are two components to wind coverage,
- The coverage for the dwelling and the contents are separate.
- Both need to be purchased in order for the home and the contents to be covered.
Falling Objects: This coverage varies by company. I have seen some policies where this was not a part of the home policy or it had to be added as a part of an extended package. In most HO-3 and HO-B policies this coverage is included and would protect the homeowner if the meteor struck their home.
By the way, if you find a piece of this meteorite, save it. They’re valued at $670 a gram. Just make sure it’s not emitting any radiation!
While Texas has so far avoided such an event, it’s a good practice to read the policy to know what’s covered and what’s excluded. It’s always better to know if additional coverage needs to be added before such an event occurs rather than after. Those are not the surprises anyone enjoys.
Share your most unusual claim experience with us or any question you have in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page. We all learn something from each other’s experience and I answer every question.