In 2019, there were 1,517 tornadoes reported in the U.S. In 2020, there were 1,075 tornadoes. While tornadoes can happen virtually anywhere in the country, they tend to be concentrated in certain regions. In fact, the central part of the U.S. is nicknamed Tornado Alley because of the prevalence of tornadoes in that area.
Tornadoes can cause severe damage to your property and personal belongings, so it can be important to be prepared with the proper insurance coverage. Without adequate coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket to repair or rebuild your home if a tornado damages it. Tornado insurance is typically not a standalone policy and is instead included on your homeowners insurance.
The top 10 worst states for tornadoes
According to the National Weather Service and the Insurance Information Institute, the top 10 states with most tornadoes in 2019, the most recent year with available data for all states, were:
Though it is not in Tornado Alley, Mississippi had 138 tornadoes in 2019. On one weekend in April 2020, the state’s southern region saw three separate F4 tornadoes strike within 40 miles of each other.
Regularly hit by tornadoes, Kansas reported 127 of them in 2019. Kansas ranks third nationwide for tornadoes per 100 square miles between 1950 and the present. The state sees an average of 4.4 tornadoes per every 100 square miles.
Oklahoma is another hard-hit state, with 99 reported tornadoes in 2019. The peak season for tornadoes in Oklahoma is May, closely followed by April and June, respectively. Nearly two third of Oklahoma’s annual tornadoes occur in these three months.
Alabama had 95 tornadoes in 2019. The costliest tornado damage in the United States occurred in Tuscaloosa in April 2011.
North Carolina was hit with 59 tornadoes in 2019, well above the state’s typical average of 31 tornadoes per year. In 2011, when more than 177 tornadoes occurred in the U.S. between April 14th and 16th, North Carolina experienced 30 of them.
Which states are in Tornado Alley?
Tornado Alley is a nickname given to a region in the U.S. where tornadoes are very common. Tornado Alley begins in the Southern plains and extends up to South Dakota.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states in Tornado Alley include:
Tornadoes can and do occur outside of these states. Additionally, Tornado Alley is simply a nickname. Some states, like Georgia and Mississippi, are not included in Tornado Alley but often see tornadic activity.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornadoes?
Most homeowners insurance policies cover tornado damage. Your policy will also likely cover damage from fallen trees that are blown onto your home during a storm. Standard homeowners insurance policies include hazard insurance, which is coverage for the structure and contents of a home. Homeowners insurance also typically includes coverage for the medical bills of guests injured on your property and liability coverage in case you are found at fault for injuries or damages.
As a result, you may not need to purchase a separate policy for tornado insurance coverage. However, every policy varies in its coverage, so it is always important to check your policy for these added protections. Your home insurance policy might not offer enough coverage if you live in one of the worst states for tornadoes. Additionally, since every company has its own underwriting guidelines, it is possible that tornado damage could be excluded from your policy, meaning you may need to seek out a seperate policy for tornado coverage.
In addition to heavy winds, tornadoes often cause floods. Unlike tornado and wind damage, flood damage is not typically included within homeowners insurance. If you need flood insurance, you will likely need to purchase a separate flood policy through an insurance company that offers flood coverage or from the National Flood Insurance Program.
Protecting your home from tornadoes
In addition to making sure your home insurance covers you in the event of a tornado, there are some things you can do before and after a storm to minimize damage.These tips can help you prepare for a natural disaster by physically safeguarding your home and belongings. If you live in an area where tornadoes are common, you may want to:
- Strengthen your garage by reinforcing it with vertical bracing.
- Reinforce your roof with hurricane clips.
- Secure your windows with plywood and clips.
- Remove branches and trees that are on the verge of breaking or are overhanging your roof.
- Keep important paper records in a secure location and in waterproof containers.
- Invest in a storm-proof safe room.
These preparations and safeguards can make an enormous difference should a disaster strike. Should the worst happen, having pictures of valuable belongings and the inside and outside of your home can be helpful if you need to file a claim. Preparing a home inventory of your belongings could also be beneficial.
Frequently asked questions
Does tornado insurance cover my car?
You typically do not need a separate tornado insurance policy to cover your vehicle. However, you do need to have comprehensive coverage included on your car insurance policy in order to get coverage for natural disasters like tornadoes. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover your car, even if your vehicle is in your garage when it is damaged.
What is the best home insurance company?
The best home insurance company will vary depending on your individual needs and rating factors. It can be a good idea to shop around and compare home insurance quotes from multiple providers before purchasing a policy. If you have questions, a licensed insurance professional may be able to help.
How much home insurance do I need?
Experts typically recommend that homeowners purchase enough home insurance to cover the entire dwelling (the actual structure of your home) if a tornado or other peril destroys it. You may also want to consider personal property coverage. Other coverages that could be helpful include other structures coverage, medical payments coverage and water backup coverage. A licensed insurance professional can help you choose coverages for your specific needs.
Does home insurance cover temporary housing?
Many home insurance companies will cover additional living expenses while you rebuild or repair your home after a tornado, but policies vary from provider to provider. Check your existing policy or talk to your agent to see if you have this coverage, which is often called loss of use.