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What Is Windstorm Insurance and What Does it Cover?

Your home insurance may not cover wind damages if you live in an area that has an elevated severe-storm risk. Let's say you live in Texas, where hurricanes abound. If your roof gets torn off after a severe hurricane, you may need windstorm insurance in order to get it replaced without paying out of pocket. Homeowners insurance will most likely reject your claim. That's where windstorm insurance comes in.

What Is Windstorm Insurance?

Windstorm insurance is coverage that protects your home or business from wind-related damages to your home, personal property and belongings. Created to protect homeowners from heavy windstorm damage, windstorm insurance is a special property insurance you can add to your home insurance policy or buy as a separate coverage.

Although homeowners insurance and renters insurance usually pays for damages from wind, along with 15 additional perils, this coverage isn't guaranteed if you live in a state that has a higher chance of severe storms with high winds.

Wind and hail damage may be excluded from your homeowners insurance policy if you live in a storm-prone area.

Wind and hail damage may be excluded from your homeowners insurance policy if you live in a storm-prone area like the Atlantic Coast, Tornado Alley or the Gulf Coast. When this occurs, you may need to purchase windstorm insurance to cover your repairs.

What Does Windstorm Insurance Cover?

Windstorm insurance covers the following damages resulting from storms:

  • Hurricanes are cyclonic storms that form over warm waters and have maximum sustained winds of 74 mph or higher. These policies cover damages, regardless of the hurricane's magnitude, on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

  • Tropical storms are cyclones that form over warm waters and have sustained surface winds of 39 to 73 mph.

  • Severe thunderstorms are storms with high winds exceeding 58 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

  • Tornadoes are violently rotating funnel clouds that extend from a thunderstorm and touch the ground.

  • Hailstorms are raindrops that are swept high into thunderstorm updrafts, freeze in the atmosphere and fall to the earth. Some windstorm policies cover hailstorms in their plans.

Windstorm insurance also offers the following coverage for your property:

  • Coverage A (Dwelling) protects your home and attached structures, such as decks, garages and patios. Your dwelling coverage should be equal to your home's replacement cost value to help you rebuild.

  • Coverage B (Other Structures) protects your property's unattached structures, including your detached sheds, fences and garages. Get coverage that's 30% of your dwelling insurance's limit.

  • Coverage C (Personal Property) insures belongings, including your furniture, electronics and other personal items. This coverage can be as high as 70% of your dwelling insurance's limit. Windstorm policies also offer lower special liability limits for jewelry, fine art and other high-end items.

  • Coverage D (Loss of Rent) reimburses you for lost rent income after a windstorm has damaged your rental property.

  • Coverage E (Loss of Use) pays for additional living expenses, including meals, when your home is uninhabitable because of a windstorm.

What Doesn't Windstorm Insurance Cover?

There are some perils windstorm policies won't cover:

  • Floods – Your windstorm insurance doesn't cover damages caused by floods resulting from storms. You'll need a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program to receive coverage.

  • Fires – If high winds drive a wildfire on your property, your windstorm insurance won't cover the losses. Some standard homeowners policies and wildfire policies may reimburse you for this damage.

  • Earthquakes - A windstorm insurance policy will not cover earthquakes, only certain losses resulting from one, such as a fire. You'll need a separate earthquake insurance policy to be fully insured.

How Do Windstorm Insurance Deductibles Work?

A home insurance provider may require you to meet a deductible, which is an amount you must pay before your policy covers your damages.

There are several types of windstorm deductibles. Insurers may charge you a fixed deductible for windstorm damages if you have a standard homeowners insurance policy. Under these policies, you can lower your annual premium by raising your deductible.

You’ll pay a percentage-based deductible that’s 1% to 5% of your home’s insured value if you live in a state that requires windstorm insurance.

You'll pay a percentage-based deductible that's 1% to 5% of your home's insured value if you live in a state that requires windstorm insurance. For example, if you own a home worth $600,000 and your windstorm deductible is 2%, then you'll pay $12,000 per covered claim.

Deductible amounts can approach 10% in coastal regions because these areas have a greater risk of wind-related damage from windstorms, such as hurricanes.

There may be different requirements for your deductible, depending on where you live. Most states decide which events initiate windstorm coverage and how much carriers can charge. Some policies require the National Weather Service or National Hurricane Center to issue a hurricane warning before insurers can cover wind damage.

How To Buy Windstorm Insurance

You can purchase windstorm insurance in one of three ways:

  • Purchase an endorsement to add on to your homeowner's insurance.

  • Buy a windstorm-only policy through a private insurer that sells special policies.

  • Get a plan through a shared market or residual market insurance plan. These include FAIR, Beach or Coastal Market Assistance Plans.

Where Do You Need Windstorm Insurance?

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently mandate this windstorm insurance coverage for residents who live in high-risk areas. 

Your state may also ask you to buy windstorm insurance if you're a coastal resident. Your lender may require you to buy windstorm insurance if you have a mortgage.

State

Offers Separate Hurricane Deductible?

Offers Windstorm Coverage?

Alabama

Yes

Yes

Connecticut

Yes

Yes (but only if you can't get private insurance)

Delaware

Yes

Yes (through the FAIR Plan if you can't get private insurance)

District of Columbia

Yes

Yes (through the Fair Plan if you can't get private insurance)

Florida

Yes (but the deductible is charged annually)

Yes (but only if you can't get private insurance, or when these policies exceed 15 percent of the state's plan)

Georgia

Yes

Yes (through the FAIR PLAN if you can't get private insurance)

Hawaii

No (hurricanes are excluded)

No

Louisiana

Yes (includes wind and hail deductibles)

Yes (through the FAIR Plan if you can't get private insurance)

Maine

Yes

No

Maryland

Yes

Yes (through the FAIR Plan if you can't get private insurance)

Mississippi

Yes

Yes (FAIR Plan available for most counties. George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River and Stone counties must buy private insurance)

New Jersey

Yes

Yes (through the FAIR Plan only if you can't get private insurance)

New York

Yes

Yes (through the C-MAP for South Shore of Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and surrounding areas).

North Carolina

Yes

Yes (in 18 eligible counties; FAIR Plan for remaining areas)

Pennsylvania

Yes

Rhode Island

Yes

Yes (but only if you can't find private insurance)

South Carolina

Yes

Yes (but only if you can't get private insurance and available for select areas)

Texas

Yes

Yes (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) coverage is available for 14 counties. FAIR Plan for remaining counties).

Virginia

Yes

Yes (through FAIR Plan if you can't get private insurance)

Compare & Find Best Rated Windstorm Insurance

Where Don't You Need Windstorm Insurance?

Several states have a lower risk of wind-related damages. In these areas, standard homeowners insurance should cover any storm damage:

How Much Does Windstorm Insurance Cost?

Windstorm insurance premiums are highest in coastal areas because of their elevated risk of hurricanes. Midwest residents in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas also pay higher premiums due to severe storms, tornadoes, high winds and hail.

Windstorm insurance premiums are highest in coastal areas because of their elevated risk of hurricanes.

Average annual premiums for windstorm coverage can range from $1,000 - $2,500 per year. Rates may vary depending on your location and your insurance company.

Insurance carriers usually consider several factors when calculating windstorm insurance policy rates:

  • Your location

  • Your home's replacement cost

  • Your home and roof's condition

  • Your home's construction type

Filing a Windstorm Insurance Claim

You must submit your windstorm insurance claim quickly since most carriers have a filing deadline. Take the following steps to file a claim:

  1. Take photos and videos of all wind damage to your home and belongings.

  2. Contact your insurer to start the claims process. They will send an insurance adjuster to visit your home. It takes an average of 3 days for the adjuster to visit.

  3. Before the adjuster visits, get damage estimates from two independent contractors.

  4. Fill out your claim forms. You can complete paper forms or send them electronically using your carrier's app. Submit your personal information and supporting evidence (damage photos, date of storm, news clips about the severe weather) to your carrier. 

  5. Hire a contractor to be present when the insurance adjuster arrives to ensure their assessment is fair.

  6. If you don't agree with the assessment, you can also ask your carrier to send a different adjuster to evaluate your home. Most insurance companies allow policyholders to meet with three insurance adjusters after filing a claim.

  7. Your insurer has 30 days to accept or deny your claim after the adjuster completes the assessment. 

  8. If your insurer denies your claim, you can appeal the decision. Follow the directions on the adjuster's website.

What if I Cannot Get Windstorm Coverage?

You may not be able to get a windstorm insurance policy if you live in a zip code that has an abnormally high risk of wind and hail damage. If you can't get insurance, you still have options. Homeowners should only use these three organizations as a last resort for insurance coverage since their policies are more expensive and provide less coverage than private insurance:

  • Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plans are available in 28 states and cover damages from wind-related events.

  • Beach and Windstorm Plans offer coverage similar to FAIR Plans for coastal residents and homeowners. These plans only provide coverage for windstorms and hurricanes and are available in 7 Atlantic and the Gulf States.

  • Coastal Market Assistance Program (C-MAP) is a state-run initiative that helps coastal residents purchase windstorm insurance coverage if they cannot get it through a private insurer.

How To Reduce Windstorm Damage To Your Home

To avoid an expensive claim, FEMA advises homeowners to take the following steps to protect their homes before wind damage occurs.

  • Trim or remove tree branches and limbs.

  • Protect windows with shutters and plywood.

  • Install a sturdy garage door.

  • Repair loose shingles.

  • Install impact-resistant shingles to protect from damage and roof strappings to anchor your roof down.

  • Secure outdoor furniture and other loose objects.

  • Seal cracks to stop the wind from entering.

  • Fasten manufactured homes, porches, fencing, and sheds to the ground.

  • Anchor fuel tanks and external utility lines.

Get Affordable Windstorm Insurance Coverage

If you're a homeowner in an area that is prone to heavy storms, windstorm insurance offers coverage for wind damage that may not be covered by a standard homeowners policy. These policies protect your home's structure, attached and detached structures and belongings. 

Your house is not just an asset, it's a place that you call home. Protect your family's home with enough coverage in case of storm damages. If you're unhappy with your current home insurance policy or want a new one with added windstorm insurance, it's time to shop around for the best value. SmartFinancial can help you get free homeowners insurance quotes so you can compare rates and coverages from different companies side-by-side. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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