Hurricane season has arrived, and this year is expected to bring more storms than usual. The Atlantic hurricane season starts in June and runs through November. Last year the U.S. saw 18 named storms, six of these became hurricanes, and three were a category 3 or higher.
When hurricanes hit residential communities, they create financial havoc for homeowners. Finding the right insurance to protect against hurricanes is essential, especially for those living in high-risk areas.
Although “hurricane insurance” doesn’t exist, homeowners can buy a combination of policies that provide adequate protection against the perils caused by hurricanes.
We’ll dive into the specific coverages needed to protect your home from hurricane damage.
Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane damage?
The two main dangers hurricanes pose for homeowners are windstorms and flooding.
Many home insurance policies cover damage from windstorms, but home insurance doesn’t cover flood damage.
Flood damage is incredibly costly, so insurers seek to limit its risk by excluding flood damage from home insurance policies. However, flood insurance is a must for homeowners in coastal regions.
If you live in an area that is high-risk for flooding, you could be required to buy flood insurance as a precaution against losing your home without the ability to rebuild. FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center is a helpful tool to find the flood risk in specific regions.
Windstorm damage, on the other hand, is a peril commonly included in home insurance policies. But there’s no guarantee that a home insurance policy will cover it.
Some coastal regions in the U.S. are very high-risk for hurricanes, and home insurance providers may not include windstorm damage in its standard policies. In these regions, homeowners may have to purchase windstorm insurance separately.
Your home insurance provider may offer windstorm insurance as additional coverage to your standard policy. Some states also have insurance pools that offer windstorm insurance.
What is a hurricane deductible?
Home insurance policy deductibles are generally a dollar amount. That means if a coverage has a deductible of $1000, then the policyholder pays that amount out-of-pocket before insurance pays the rest.
In coastal regions that are high-risk for storms and flooding, the deductibles for hurricane-caused damage are handled differently.
These deductibles are set at a percentage of the home’s rebuild value, instead of a dollar amount. There are two reasons for this.
First, ocean storms have become more frequent and damaging in recent decades, causing homes on the coast to be a higher insurance risk for providers. Second, property on the coast has become more populated with high-value homes that are more costly to insure and replace.
Due to these financial risks, insurance providers now require many coastal homeowners to use percentage deductibles instead of the traditional dollar deductibles.
The 19 states with hurricane deductibles are Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington DC.
Florida has state legislation that sets its hurricane deductible rates. In all of the other states, insurance companies generally set the rates. On average, a hurricane deductible is one to five percent of the home’s rebuild value.
For example, if a $500,000 home has a hurricane deductible of 3 percent, then the homeowner pays $15,000 before the insurance pays the rest.
How to file a claim after a hurricane
Filing a claim after a natural disaster can be emotional, especially if your home is destroyed. But keeping calm will help the claim process go smoother.
After a hurricane, it may be some time before you can return to your property. Once it’s safe to do so, the first steps should be:
- Take photos of the damage
- Make emergency repairs
- Understand what the policy covers
- Contact your insurance provider
It’s important to have a good understanding of what peril is responsible for specific damages to your home since insurance companies will handle damage from wind, hail and flooding differently.
Frequently asked questions
Is there such a thing as hurricane insurance?
There is no such thing as “hurricane insurance” or “hurricane coverage,” but there is insurance to cover damage associated with hurricanes. Wind damage and flooding are the two major dangers.
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.
Will my auto insurance cover damage to my car?
Auto insurance may cover damage from a hurricane. Comprehensive coverage on auto insurance policies usually provides protection from natural disasters, so if you carry this type of coverage, then hurricane damage to your vehicle might be covered.
Where can I buy flood insurance?
Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program, which was created by the U.S. federal government.