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Windstorms, ranging from hurricanes to tornadoes to straight-line winds, commonly cause home damage. Because high winds can occur in a variety of scenarios, no area in the United States is completely shielded from the possibility of wind damage. If you own a home, you should be aware of your wind-damage risk level and understand how your home insurance policy protects you. Bankrate can help you understand windstorm insurance, so you feel confident in building the financial protection you need.
What is windstorm insurance?
Windstorm insurance pays for damage to your home caused by high winds, which frequently damage roofs, siding, soffits and gutters. Many homeowners insurance companies and policies cover wind damage automatically.
However, you may need a separate policy for certain windstorm events if you live in a high-risk area. Homeowners in coastal states and areas prone to hurricanes, as well as homeowners in areas prone to tornadoes and strong thunderstorms, may want to consider confirming how wind damage is covered on their homeowners insurance policies.
Additionally, some policies include a “named storm” deductible. This means that general wind damage could be covered with a traditional flat deductible (such as $1,000), but if a storm has been given a name — as is common with hurricanes and tropical storms — the deductible is typically a percentage of the total dwelling coverage amount (such as 2%). If your policy has a named storm deductible, you will want to understand how the percentage-based deductible will impact your budget in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.
How and when to purchase windstorm insurance
If you already have a homeowners insurance policy, talking to your agent can help you determine how wind damage is covered on your policy.
The options to buy windstorm insurance vary from state to state. For example, in Florida, with its high hurricane risk, you can purchase windstorm insurance from the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation. In Texas, where wind damage can be caused by hurricanes or tornadoes, depending on where in the state you live, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is a source for windstorm coverage.
There are certain restrictions that many carriers impose that limit the timing for buying windstorm insurance. Many insurers impose “insurance moratoriums” 24 to 48 hours before a major hurricane or another significant weather event occurs. These moratoriums prevent the company from selling new policies in the designated area during the specified timeframe. The purpose is to prevent people from simply buying this insurance immediately before a disaster and canceling once the storm passes. Having windstorm insurance in place prior to an imminent weather event may be the safest option.
How much does windstorm insurance cost?
Often, the cost of windstorm insurance will depend on the price you are paying for underlying homeowners insurance. The national average premium for home insurance is $1,383 per year. This figure is for a homeowners insurance policy with dwelling coverage of $250,000. If you live in a high-risk area where you need to purchase a separate windstorm policy, though, you will have an additional charge separate from your home insurance premium. Windstorm coverage on an existing homeowners policy will sometimes have a separate deductible that is often higher than your underlying homeowners policy deductible if the storm is a named storm, like a hurricane or tropical storm.
If you are buying a separate windstorm insurance policy, your costs will depend on a number of factors, like the age of your home, your home’s rebuilding cost, the likelihood of damage in your area and if you have taken any damage-mitigating measures like installing hurricane shutters.
Windstorm insurance can be expensive, particularly if you live in an area that is prone to catastrophic weather events. In the states where these events are a threat, rates for wind insurance can vary from county to county depending upon each area’s history of storm damage. Homes on the coast will generally be more expensive to insure than those built in areas inland. It is important to review all your options with your agent and seek out quotes from several companies to compare coverages and prices.
Windstorm insurance claims
The damage that windstorms cause can be devastating. Approximately one out of every forty homeowners will make a wind- or hail-related insurance claim each year. If your home has been damaged by a windstorm, you may choose to file a homeowners insurance claim to be paid for the cost of repairs. Here is a snapshot of how to make a successful claim:
- Review your policy: Review your applicable deductible levels on your policy. Ask your carrier how and when these are to be paid. Read your policy carefully for coverage levels and exclusions. Doing this prior to a storm may help you to be more prepared for the claims process if your home is damaged.
- File promptly: As soon as it is safe to do so, examine your property for damage after a storm and file your insurance claim. Most companies allow policyholders to file claims by phone, or you may be able to file online or through an app. Make sure you note the day the storm occurred, as that will be the “loss date” when you file the claim. Most home insurance companies allow claims to be filed for months or even a year after the damage occurred but will question the reason for the delay. Additionally, because windstorms can cause widespread damage, filing your claim as soon as possible may help speed up the process.
- Document your damages: Keep a timeline of the events before, during and after a storm. Be sure to keep documentation of your damages, such as photographs or receipts for emergency repairs.
- Schedule repairs: If you need to have repairs done immediately, such as having a tarp put onto your roof to prevent further damage, keep the receipt so that your insurance company has the necessary information to reimburse you. You can schedule the final work to be done, but wait until your claim handler has authorized the repairs before you have any work done.
- Ask questions: If you have any questions during the claim process, talk to your agent or claim processor for clarification.
Having a damaged home is stressful, but your homeowners insurance is designed to restore your home to the state it was in prior to the damage.
Frequently asked questions
In most cases, homeowners insurance will automatically cover wind damage. However, if you live in a high-risk area like a coastal region, you may need to purchase a separate policy. However, even if your home insurance policy covers wind damage automatically, there could be a separate, higher “named storm” deductible. Talking to your insurance company to understand how and to what extent your homeowners insurance covers damage may be a good idea.
The best way to deal with windstorm damage is to attempt to prevent it from occurring in the first place. You can clear items away from your home, such as lawn furniture, garden tools and other unattached outdoor items. These items could become projectiles and damage your home or your neighbors’ homes. You may want to keep your trees trimmed back so that they do not overhang your roof. Storm shutters are another mitigation measure that homeowners can consider.
No state in the U.S. is completely free from the risk of wind damage. However, coastal states are more likely to experience hurricanes and tropical storms that come with devastating winds, and states in the Midwest and Southeast are also some of the riskiest areas for tornado damage. Wind damage doesn’t always happen from specific storms, though. High winds can happen in any state and in any season, so understanding how your insurance would respond is important for your financial protection.