What is a Peril in Insurance?

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When it comes to insurance, there are a lot of terms and concepts that can be confusing. One such term is "peril." What exactly is a peril in insurance, and how does it affect your coverage? In this article, we'll dive into the definition of peril, explore some common examples, and discuss how it impacts your insurance policy.

What is a Peril?

A peril is a specific event or circumstance that causes damage or loss to your property or person. In insurance terms, a peril is something that is covered by your policy. For example, if your home is damaged in a fire, that would be considered a peril. If your car is stolen, that would also be a peril.

Perils can be natural, such as a hurricane or earthquake, or they can be man-made, such as theft or vandalism. The key is that the event or circumstance must be unexpected and beyond your control.

Types of Perils

There are many different types of perils that can be covered by insurance policies. Some of the most common include:

Natural Perils

Natural perils are events that occur due to natural causes and are beyond human control. These include:

  • Fire: Wildfires, lightning strikes, and other types of fires can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and other structures.
  • Windstorm or hail: High winds and hail can damage roofs, windows, and other parts of buildings.
  • Lightning: Lightning strikes can cause fires, damage electrical systems, and harm people and animals.
  • Earthquake: Earthquakes can cause structural damage to buildings, homes, and other structures.
  • Flood: Floods can occur due to heavy rain, melting snow, or other natural causes and can cause significant damage to homes and other structures.
  • Hurricane or tornado: Hurricanes and tornadoes are powerful storms that can cause significant damage to homes, businesses, and other structures.

Man-Made Perils

Man-made perils are events that occur due to human actions and are not caused by natural disasters. These include:

  • Theft or burglary: Theft and burglary can occur when someone breaks into a home, business, or vehicle and steals items.
  • Vandalism: Vandalism occurs when someone intentionally damages property, such as by breaking windows or spray painting graffiti.
  • Riot or civil commotion: Riots and civil commotions can cause significant damage to buildings, vehicles, and other structures.
  • Explosion: Explosions can occur due to gas leaks, chemical reactions, or other causes and can cause significant damage to buildings and other structures.
  • Falling objects: Falling objects, such as tree limbs or debris, can damage homes, vehicles, and other structures.

How Perils Impact Your Insurance Policy

When you purchase an insurance policy, it will typically list the perils that are covered under the policy. For example, a homeowner's insurance policy may cover perils such as fire, windstorm, and theft. If a peril that is not listed on your policy causes damage or loss, it will not be covered.

It's important to review your insurance policy carefully to understand what perils are covered and what is excluded. If you live in an area that is prone to certain types of natural disasters, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, you may need to purchase additional coverage to protect yourself from those perils.

Examples of Perils in Action

To help illustrate the concept of perils in insurance, let's take a look at a few examples:

Example 1: Homeowner's Insurance

Samantha has a homeowner's insurance policy that covers perils such as fire, windstorm, and theft. One day, a severe thunderstorm rolls through her town and causes a tree to fall on her house, damaging the roof and several windows. Because windstorm is a covered peril under her policy, Samantha is able to file a claim and receive compensation for the damage.

Example 2: Auto Insurance

John has comprehensive auto insurance coverage, which covers perils such as theft, vandalism, and falling objects. One night, while his car is parked on the street, someone breaks into it and steals his stereo system. Because theft is a covered peril under his policy, John is able to file a claim and receive compensation for the stolen items.

Example 3: Flood Insurance

Maria lives in a flood-prone area and has purchased a separate flood insurance policy to protect her home. One day, heavy rains cause the nearby river to overflow, and her basement floods with several feet of water. Because flood damage is not covered under her homeowner's insurance policy, Maria is able to file a claim under her flood insurance policy and receive compensation for the damage.


Understanding the concept of perils in insurance is important for anyone who wants to protect their property and person from unexpected events. By knowing what perils are covered under your insurance policy, you can ensure that you have the right coverage to protect yourself and your assets. Be sure to review your policy carefully and speak with your insurance agent if you have any questions or concerns. Remember, insurance is all about protecting yourself from the unexpected, and understanding perils is a key part of that equation.