Are You Insured Against Nuclear Radiation?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —  More than 200,000 Japanese residents have been evacuated from their homes, according to the Associated Press, as the country tries to contain a nuclear crisis caused by damage incurred to a power plant during its catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.

If a similar disaster were to occur in the U.S., would displaced homeowners be insured against nuclear radiation?

The answer is yes, though, the protection isn’t part of a person’s homeowner’s policy. 

Claims resulting from nuclear accidents are actually covered by a pool the U.S. government created in 1957 with a piece of legislation called the Price-Anderson Act.

The law requires owners of nuclear power plants to pay a premium each year for $375 million in private liability insurance. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commision, which manages the fund, should the cost of a nuclear accident surpass that amount, each plant must pay up to $118.8 million into a second-tier insurance pool to cover the damages.

“For that reason, all property and liability insurance policies issued in the U.S. exclude nuclear accidents,” the NRC explains on its website.

According to the NRC, insurance under Price-Anderson covers bodily injury, sickness, disease or resulting death, property damage and loss as well as reasonable living expenses for individuals who are evacuated.

The money in the pool currently covers all U.S. citizens through Dec. 31, 2025.

To date, the insurance pools have paid approximately $71 million in claims and litigation costs, all associated with the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Middletown, Pa. The NRC says there is currently more than $12 billion in the fund.

The pool explains why most U.S. residents haven’t heard of nuclear radiation insurance.

“Basically, home insurance companies can’t give you that type of coverage,” Chris Kissell, spokesperson for Insurance.com, tells MainStreet, adding that he has never seen an insurance company try to sell an policy extension that covers nuclear crisis.

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