In 2019, there were over 1,400 tornadoes reported in the U.S. In 2020, there were 1,183 tornadoes by November 2nd. 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 there.
If you’re a homeowner in tornado alley, having tornado insurance is extremely important. Between 1997 and 2016, tornadoes accounted for nearly 40 percent of all insured catastrophe losses. Tornadoes can cause severe damage to your property and personal belongings, so make sure you have the proper home insurance coverage before a natural disaster happens. Without enough coverage, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket to repair or rebuild your home after a tornado hits.
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 were:
Texas had the most tornadoes in 2019, reporting 188 tornadoes. The worst tornado in Texas history since 1900 took place on May 27th, 1997 and was the last confirmed F5 tornado in the state.
Though it’s not in tornado alley, Mississippi had 138 tornadoes in 2019. On one weekend in April 2020, the state saw three separate F4 tornadoes strike within 40 miles of each other in the state’s southern region.
Regularly hit by tornadoes, Kansas reported 127 of them in 2019. Kansas ranks third nationwide for tornadoes per state per 100 square miles between 1950 and the present. The state sees an average of 4.4 tornadoes per 100 square miles.
Oklahoma is another hard-hit state, with 99 reported tornadoes in 2019. Between 1950 and 2017, the state experienced 3,823 tornadoes that killed 502 people.
Missouri had 98 tornadoes in 2019, nearly beating the state record of 102 in a single year, set in 2006. Five of the deadliest tornadoes in the nation’s history took place here.
Louisiana reported 97 tornadoes for 2019, and between August 2019 and August 2020, 87 counties and zone areas had a tornado-related event.
Alabama had 95 tornadoes in 2019, and the state ranks fifth overall for the highest average number of tornadoes between December 20th and January 3rd.
Georgia had 60 tornadoes in 2019. The state has an average of 20 tornadoes per year, which works out to an average of 3.53 tornadoes per 10,000 square feet.
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 14-16, North Carolina experienced 30 tornadoes.
Ohio also experienced 59 tornadoes in 2019. Generally, most of the state’s tornadoes happen between May and July; 59% of Ohio’s tornadoes occur during this time frame each year.
Which states are in “tornado alley”?
As we mentioned above, tornado alley is a nickname given to a region in the U.S. where tornadoes are very common. Specifically, tornado alley begins in the Southern plains and extends up to South Dakota.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, states in tornado alley include:
- South Dakota
Does homeowners insurance cover tornadoes?
Most basic homeowners insurance policies cover tornado damage and extreme windstorms. Your policy will also likely cover damage from fallen trees that are blown over onto your home during a storm. As a result, the majority of people will not need to purchase a separate policy for tornado insurance. Standard homeowners insurance policies include hazard insurance, which will replace the structure and contents of a home in case of a natural disaster. Hazard insurance also covers medical bills and potential legal bills if someone is injured at your property.
However, your home insurance policy might not offer enough coverage if you live in one of the worst states for tornadoes. People living in states where tornadoes are common should consider purchasing an add-on policy for tornado insurance. You’ll get a higher coverage limit, which is important if the structure of your home or personal belongings sustain damage after a storm. In the end, having tornado insurance can save you a significant amount of money if you have to rebuild your home.
In addition to heavy winds, tornadoes often cause floods. Unlike tornado and wind damage, flood damage isn’t included as a part of homeowners insurance. If you need flood insurance based on where you live, you’ll need to purchase it through an insurance agent or an insurer that participates in the federally-backed 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, these tips can help you physically safeguard your home and belongings:
- 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
- Keep important paper records in a secure location away from home
- Invest in a storm-proof safe room
- Prepare a home inventory of your belongings
Frequently asked questions
Does tornado insurance cover my car?
No, you don’t need a separate tornado insurance policy to cover your vehicle. Your auto insurance policy covers your car from any type of wind damage, which includes tornadoes. It would also cover your car if a tree fell on top of it, or it was damaged by storm debris.
What is the best home insurance company?
Some of the best home insurance companies include Allstate, Geico, and MetLife. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare rates from multiple providers before purchasing a policy. If you have questions, speak with a licensed insurance professional.
How much home insurance do you need?
It’s a good idea to purchase enough home insurance to cover the entire dwelling (the actual structure of your home) if a tornado or other peril destroys it. You’ll also need property coverage. Many people underestimate how much their belongings are worth, so consider what it would cost to replace everything and make sure it’s covered. It’s always wise to speak with a licensed insurance professional to ensure you are getting the coverage you need.
Does home insurance cover temporary housing?
Many home insurance companies will cover temporary housing while you rebuild or repair your home after a tornado, but policies vary from provider to provider. Check your existing policy or research other providers to ensure that temporary relocation is covered.