Meteors and Insurance

Now that we’ve had the weekend to absorb Friday’s news of a meteor exploding over Russia’s central Ural mountains, injuring up to 1,200 and causing damage to buildings in six cities, here’s a quick recap of the insurance impact.

According to a report by catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide, most of the damage was caused by the shock waves as the meteor broke up in the atmosphere. The force of the explosion was enough to shatter dishes, televisions, and windows.

The explosion is estimated to have shattered more than 1 million square feet of glass, AIR Worldwide notes. Preliminary reports suggest more than 3,000 homes and businesses sustained damage from broken glass, including a zinc factory where part of the roof collapsed.

What about the insurance impact?

AIR Worldwide reports that in many countries with developed insurance markets, a comprehensive multi-peril insurance policy generally will cover all risks that are not specifically excluded, meaning that meteorite damage would generally be covered:

The dwelling portion of the homeowner policy is very broad and if damage from falling objects is not listed in the exclusions, it is generally covered.†

CNN cites  local officials who say damage from Friday’s explosion could be as much as $33 million.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) also reminds us that while the likelihood of actually getting struck by a satellite, a meteor or an asteroid is extremely rare, the good news is that if one of these falling objects does hit you, your home or car or place of business, the resulting damage would be covered by insurance:

Falling objects, including satellites, asteroids, meteors and space debris, are covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies.†

Good to know, especially as the Russia meteor weighed around 10,000 tons, entered the earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph) and shattered into pieces about 30 to 50 kilometers (18 to 32 miles) above the ground.

The Wall Street Journal says that it is the largest reported meteor since one that hit Tunguska, Siberia in 1908, according to the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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