Are You Covered if a Volcano Erupts?


Of the movies set to premier in February, one has a unique setting: Pompeii. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano next to the Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD has long captivated the minds of the modern world. When it buried the city under 13 to 20 feet of ash and volcanic stone, the volcano effectively sealed off a little piece of the past for the world to find more than a thousand years later.

The mystery and the myth

For more than 1,500 years after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the city of Pompeii was lost. It was rediscovered in 1599 and officially in 1748 by Alcubierre, a Spanish architect. UNESCO designated it world heritage site in 1997. What made this site so intriguing?

Pompeii was a city perfectly preserved: hidden from the fall of the Roman Empire and the ravages of time and looters. It provided a physical representation of the art, architecture, and culture of the time, even preserving the final positions of the people who died within the city walls. It’s no wonder that Hollywood wishes to capture the history of this haunting city.

With everything so perfectly preserved, researchers learned so much from that city about the everyday life of those in the Roman Empire. It makes you wonder what future researchers would think if they discovered us.

The ongoing danger

Unlike other natural disasters, active volcanoes are always present and highly unpredictable. Even with the technology available today, we can’t determine where, when, and how intensely a volcano will erupt. Worldwide, about 500 million people live near volcanoes, according to Geo Risks Research completed by Munich Re, the reinsurance giant. The U.S. alone, one of the most ‘volcanically rich’ countries in the world, has 169 active and dormant volcanoes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In Indonesia, the recent continuous eruptions of Mount Sinabung have displaced more than 22,000 people. The volcano lay dormant for 400 years until its eruption in 2010. In September of last year, it began spewing gas and ash and hasn’t stopped since. During one recent week, the volcano erupted more than 220 times, according to CNN. These eruptions show the very real dangers that volcanoes can still cause.

Back to the future

So the big question: Is your home protected from volcanoes? Yes. If you live near a volcano in the U.S., your home insurance policy typically can cover damage caused by the airborne debris that it spews. This coverage matters, considering that the costliest eruption in the United States, that of Mount St. Helens in 1980, caused $1.1 billion in total damages, only $27 million of which were insured.

Because you can’t predict disasters such as earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, make sure you’re always prepared by creating a home inventory. With it you can remind yourself of the possessions of your home after a disaster and substantiate your claims. Though a home inventory might not help you in a Pompeii-sized disaster, you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.

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