Get Windstorm Insurance Before Your Stuff Gets Blown Away
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While most homeowners insurance policies automatically include coverage for windstorms, you may have to purchase a separate windstorm policy or pay a higher wind and hail deductible if you live in a region that is particularly prone to severe wind damage.
Keep reading to learn about the types of areas that need windstorm insurance and how you can make sure your home and belongings are sufficiently covered in case of a major storm.
How Does Windstorm Insurance Work?
Windstorm coverage is a type of homeowners insurance that you may need to purchase if you live in a geographical region that experiences a high rate of hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hailstorms or similar extreme weather events. It may be available as a standalone policy or an endorsement for your main home insurance policy.
Keep in mind that not everyone needs separate windstorm insurance since wind is among the perils covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. In addition, your insurance provider is required to include windstorm coverage in your residential property policy if you live in Florida.
Nevertheless, other states allow insurance companies to exclude coverage for windstorms in areas with a high rate of wind-related claims. If you live in one of these areas, your insurance company will not reimburse you for damage to your home caused by a windstorm unless you purchase extra coverage.
Even if your policy automatically includes windstorm insurance, you may have to pay a separate deductible on wind and hail claims depending on your location. Your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay up front on every insurance claim and it is often a flat payment of $500 or $1,000.
However, homeowners in disaster-prone regions may have to pay a separate percentage-based wind and hail deductible rather than a flat amount of money on any claims related to wind damage. In addition, many states also have named storm deductibles that specifically apply to damage from hurricanes.
States where these deductibles apply have their own guidelines for what circumstances can trigger a hurricane deductible. Depending on the situation, you may have to pay a hurricane deductible in the District of Columbia and the following 19 states:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Windstorm deductibles are usually between 1% and 5% of your policy’s coverage limit. For example, if you have $300,000 worth of dwelling coverage and a 3% windstorm deductible, then you would have to pay $9,000 out of pocket on any claims related to wind damage to the structure of your home.
What Does Windstorm Insurance Cover?
A windstorm insurance policy typically includes the following four coverage types, which also appear in a standard homeowners insurance policy.
Coverage A (Dwelling)
Covers the structure of your home and attached structures like decks and carports
Coverage B (Other Structures)
Covers structures on your property that are not attached to your home like sheds and fences
Coverage C (Personal Property)
Covers your belongings like furniture, electronics and clothing
Coverage D (Loss of Use)
Covers additional living expenses and lost rental income if you or your tenants are temporarily unable to live in a property you own due to a covered peril
What Isn’t Covered?
Windstorm insurance won’t cover perils like fire or theft that are already covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy in your area. As a result, you should only purchase windstorm coverage to supplement your homeowners policy, not to substitute it.
Likewise, windstorm insurance won’t cover wind damage to your car since this would be covered by comprehensive auto insurance instead. It should also exclude coverage for flood damage to your home unless you purchase a separate flood insurance policy.
Where Is Windstorm Coverage Needed?
Windstorm coverage is most commonly excluded from regular homeowners insurance policies in coastal regions of coastal states such as the Texas Gulf Coast.
Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas have state-sponsored Beach and Windstorm Plans that offer windstorm coverage to residents of coastal areas. New York has a similar program that provides coverage for homeowners who have been denied coverage by at least three private insurance companies, while windstorm coverage is also included in most states’ government-established Fair Access to Insurance (FAIR) Plans.
How Much Does Windstorm Insurance Cost?
The cost of your windstorm insurance premiums will depend on factors like your location, your claims history, the characteristics of your home and the coverage limits and deductible you select. For example, coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association costs around $1,850 per year on average.
If you live in Florida, you should be able to get discounts on your residential property insurance rates if you install wind mitigation devices like shutters and undergo an inspection to prove that you have taken steps to make your home more wind resistant.
Filing a Windstorm Insurance Claim
If your home or belongings have incurred wind damage that you believe is covered by either your standard homeowners policy or your windstorm insurance policy, you can take the following steps to file a claim:
- Inform your home insurance provider that your home has been damaged and you plan on filing a claim.
- Photograph or record videos of the parts of your home that have been damaged.
- Prevent further damage to your home by making emergency repairs if needed.
- Let your mortgage lender know that you are in the process of filing a claim.
- Gather supporting evidence for your claim to show the insurance adjuster like photos of the damage and repair estimates obtained from independent adjusters.
- Submit all important information to your insurance provider and be sure to take care of any problems that come up regarding your claim.
How Can I Get Windstorm Insurance for My Home?
To find the best windstorm coverage for your home, you should shop around by comparing quotes from multiple insurers using an online insurance marketplace like SmartFinancial. If you are struggling to find private insurance due to living in a high-risk area, consider seeking coverage through your state’s FAIR Plan or a similar public program.
Keep in mind that many insurance companies will temporarily stop selling new policies or updating existing ones if a hurricane is expected to make landfall within 24 to 48 hours. As a result, you should be sure to find windstorm insurance well in advance of any major storms.