The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a 40 percent chance of having an average 2023 hurricane season. According to NOAA, we can expect between 12-17 named storms, with 1-4 of them potentially developing into major hurricanes (categories 3, 4 and 5). Residents along the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico are familiar with the challenges of an active hurricane season, from preparing for power outages to searching for lodging along evacuation routes. Homeowners have the added challenge of securing insurance policies that cover the wind and flood damage that typically accompanies the hurricane season. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team, composed of licensed insurance agents and writers with combined decades of industry experience, reviews what a basic home insurance policy covers and where to find additional insurance for what it doesn’t cover.

Key takeaways

  • A standard home insurance policy does not cover all aspects of hurricane damage.
  • Flood insurance covers hurricane-related storm surges and flood damage.
  • You may have a separate, and higher, hurricane insurance deductible.
  • Getting hurricane coverage before the season starts may be the best idea to ensure you have coverage. Typically, there are moratoriums (restrictions) for buying or adjusting coverage when storm warnings are issued.

How much hurricane coverage do you need?

Insurance companies don’t sell standalone “hurricane insurance policies,” so you will need to rely on your home insurance policy and some supplemental policies, like flood insurance, to get adequate coverage. Depending on your circumstances or preferred degree of financial protection, you may need to consider higher coverage limits or coverage add-ons to your policy, above what a standard HO-3 or HO-5 policy provides. Most homeowners policies provide financial protection from windstorm damage for:

  • Your dwelling (the structure of the home)
  • Detached units (like a shed or detached garage)
  • Personal property (your belongings)
  • Living expenses if you are displaced

Dwelling coverage

Dwelling coverage covers the structure of your home, your roof, attached structures and built-in appliances such as your water heater or kitchen cabinets. You generally buy this coverage equal to the total rebuild cost of your home. Since property replacement costs have increased a cumulative 30.4 percent over the past five years, you might consider purchasing optional endorsements, like guaranteed replacement cost coverage which promises to repair or rebuild your home even if, at the time of the loss, the rebuilding cost exceeds the dwelling limit on your policy.

Other structures coverage

Other structures coverage pays to repair or replace detached structures on your property, including garages, sheds, barns, gazebos, in-ground swimming pools and more. This coverage is based on a percentage, generally 10%, of your dwelling coverage limit. For example, if you have $400,000 in dwelling coverage, you may have up to $40,000 in coverage for detached units.

Personal property coverage

Personal property insurance covers your personal items, like clothing, furniture and appliances. Generally, the limit for personal property coverage is a percentage of your dwelling coverage limit. Many insurers provide personal property coverage of 50% to 70% of your home’s insured value, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

If you live in a state where hurricanes are common, it’s important to make sure you have enough personal property coverage. For the highest amount of protection, consider insuring your belongings at their replacement cost value instead of their actual cash value so you can replace them with new items of equivalent value.

Additional living expenses

Homeowners insurance helps pay for additional living expenses if you get temporarily displaced after a covered loss, like a hurricane. Your policy may reimburse you for the cost of hotel and food expenses while your home is being repaired. The coverage limit for additional living expenses is sometimes a default amount set by the insurance company, but you might have the option to increase the limits for more protection.

How do hurricane deductibles work for homeowners insurance?

If your homeowners insurance does cover for wind damage or other hurricane damage, then claims may be subject to a separate deductible. These deductibles are typically higher than standard homeowners insurance and set as a percentage – usually 1% to 5% – of your dwelling coverage. For example, if you are covered for $400,000 and your hurricane deductible is 5%, then you may have to cover a $20,000 deductible, which would be deducted from your claim payment.

Do you need a hurricane deductible?

All Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, as well as Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Hawaii allow insurance companies to require a separate hurricane deductible, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). It is possible that you may have the option to pay a higher premium to lower your fixed deductible.

Hurricane deductibles are usually triggered by a hurricane watch or warning issued by the National Weather Service, but can vary slightly by state and insurance company. While hurricane deductibles may be costly compared to your standard home insurance deductible, the coverage is essential protection for those in high-risk areas for hurricanes.

What states have hurricane deductibles?

Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have hurricane deductibles:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Additional hurricane coverage options to consider

Flood insurance

Some homeowners may be surprised to learn that flooding — even from a hurricane — is generally not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. This is why many lenders require homeowners to carry flood insurance if they have a mortgage. One of the most common ways to get flood insurance is through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

NFIP policies provide up to $250,000 in dwelling coverage and $100,000 in personal property coverage for residential homes. Before your coverage takes effect, there is a 30-day waiting period, except in a few rare circumstances. Additionally, NFIP flood insurance premiums must usually be paid for upfront and in full, rather than in monthly increments. Many private carriers also offer flood insurance now as well, and the waiting periods may differ from NFIP-backed policies. Private flood policies typically offer higher dwelling and personal property limits than NFIP policies, as well as additional living expenses.

Catastrophic flooding from hurricanes can occur in inland communities as well, as we have seen from several recent storms. More than 20% of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk federal flood zones, according to FEMA. Because of this, it may be better to err on the side of caution and buy flood insurance if your area is at all subject to flooding. Otherwise, you could be stuck with the entire bill if your home is damaged by water, says Sara Singhas, director at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Windstorm insurance

Some insurance companies limit or exclude wind damage from homes in areas at high-risk for hurricane and tornado damage. Homeowners may have the option to purchase wind coverage as an additional endorsement from their current home provider. If not, they may need to secure a stand-alone windstorm insurance policy. Windstorm policies usually have a deductible of 1, 2, 5 or even 10 percent of the dwelling coverage. Some insurers also offer a standard flat deductible for “named storms” so that homeowners are not always required to meet a high deductible for wind damage from smaller storms.

Most homeowners find windstorm policies through non-profit government-backed policies like Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance. By law, these policies have a higher premium than those offered by private insurers but can be a life-saving option for homeowners with no other way to secure coverage.

Water backup coverage

Sewage overflow is not something you want to think of after a hurricane, but it could happen as a result of flooding. Water backup coverage helps protect your home and personal property from water damage if sewage water backs up into your home through your plumbing or sump pump.

Debris removal coverage

Homeowners insurance generally covers debris removal if, for instance, a tree falls on your property. However, the coverage usually only goes up to a certain amount. Debris removal following a hurricane can easily exceed that cap so you may want to check if your insurer offers a coverage endorsement to increase your debris removal reimbursement.

Hurricane season 2023

Hurricane season runs from June 1 until November 30. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center first reported “near normal” hurricane activity for the 2023 Atlantic season but recently changed its stance and upgraded its prediction to “above normal.” This puts estimates between two to five major hurricanes for this year. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team is closely following hurricane activity in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Here are some key facts from the 2023 hurricane season so far: 
  • Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend region of Florida as an intense Category 3 hurricane. The city of Perry, Florida, was hit the hardest as Idalia pushed through Florida and Georgia, but Idalia was downgraded to a strong tropical storm as it blew through the Carolinas.
  • There were three Idalia-related deaths reported, a much lower number than anticipated since the storm made landfall in a rural part of Florida, and many residents took precautionary measures. Estimates put damage from Hurricane Idalia around $20 billion.
  • Homeowners insurance typically covers some forms of hurricane damage but does not cover flood damage. Homes in high-risk areas may need windstorm insurance and flood insurance to avoid potential gaps in coverage. When a hurricane approaches, most insurance companies put a moratorium on increasing coverage or lowering deductibles until the storm passes.
Bankrate’s hurricane resources aim to help you understand how your home insurance coverage may financially protect you from storm damage. These guides also provide tips to prepare your home for a storm and resources on how to file a claim for hurricane-related damage. 

How to be prepared to make a home insurance claim after a hurricane

To prepare for an insurance claim after a hurricane, there are several things you can do. Take photos and videos of the interior and exterior of your home routinely (every six months to a year) to document what your home looks like and what is in it. If you have done major renovations or repairs, make an inventory of that, too, and upload all of the documentation to the cloud so you can access it remotely.

After a storm, it could take time for an insurance adjuster to inspect your home so document everything again as soon as you can. Moss advises having your own documentation can help your insurer process your claim more quickly and resolve potential claim disputes.

Do I need hurricane coverage if I rent or own a condo?

When it comes to hurricane protection, renters insurance policies are just as important as homeowners policies are, but for two different circumstances. If you live in an apartment, your landlord insures the building, but you still need to carry insurance for your possessions and additional living expenses. Renters insurance does not cover flood loss, however renters that live in an area prone to flooding may be able to purchase a stand-alone flood policy through NFIP or a private flood insurer.

If you own a condo, find out what areas of the structure are covered by the association and what you will need to insure. In addition to your personal items, it is possible that you may be responsible to help pay for a portion of the repairs to the damaged structure. Check with your association attorney or property management company before you buy and find out exactly what type of coverage you will need under your condo insurance policy. You may also want to have your insurance agent review the master condo policy to help you determine what additional coverage you need for full financial protection. You may need separate flood and windstorm policies to cover damage for attached fixtures and personal property inside your home.

Frequently asked questions

    • There is no such thing as “hurricane insurance” or “hurricane coverage,” but there is insurance to cover windstorm damage associated with hurricanes. For example, some home insurers in coastal regions exclude windstorm damage, so windstorm insurance will need to be purchased separately. Flooding is also a big concern. Home insurers generally do not cover flood damage, so a separate flood insurance policy will be needed.
    • A hurricane moratorium is a period of time after a hurricane is forecasted when insurance companies will not write new policies or allow coverage updates to existing policies. The moratorium is usually put into effect once a hurricane watch or warning has been issued by the NOAA.
    • Hurricane damage to your car (like flood and wind damage) is generally covered as long as you carry comprehensive insurance on your auto policy. However, if you have personal items in your vehicle that get damaged due to a hurricane, your homeowners, renters or condo insurance may cover it. That’s another reason why it’s important to have adequate coverage limits for these policies.
    • The cost of flood insurance depends on your policy limits and the degree of financial protection you require, as well as if you purchase from a government flood insurance provider or a private company. Flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program costs around $935 per year on average. Your own rates will depend on where you live, if you are in a flood zone, the amount of coverage you need, and the deductibles you choose. If you are looking to buy a home soon, shop around with multiple insurance companies to compare pricing and coverage. Finally, it could be beneficial to do more than a skim-read of your policy. Take the time to understand what it includes (and what it does not), how to file a claim and any additional coverage you might need to purchase.