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Windstorm insurance: how it works and who needs it

Updated May 03, 2024
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Key takeaways

  • Windstorm insurance is offered either as an endorsement or a separate policy for specific windstorm events that are not covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy.
  • High-risk areas like Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana and Texas are prone to windstorms, which can increase the cost of insurance.
  • Insurers may restrict homeowners from purchasing windstorm insurance 24 to 48 hours before a major hurricane or other severe weather event occurs.
  • Windstorm insurance costs vary based on several factors including your home’s age, rebuilding cost and location.

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.

Do I need windstorm insurance?

While home policies may include some level of coverage for wind damage, 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 percent). 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.

Currently, there are 18 states that permit home insurance companies to add hurricane deductibles, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I):

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas

How 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.

When to buy windstorm insurance

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, wind insurance costs will depend on the price you are paying for homeowners insurance. The national average premium for home insurance is $2,150 per year for a policy with dwelling coverage of $300,000. Windstorm coverage on an existing homeowners policy will sometimes have a separate deductible that is higher than your underlying homeowners policy deductible if the storm is a named storm (e.g., a hurricane or tropical storm).

If you live in a high-risk area where you need to purchase a separate windstorm endorsement or policy, you will likely be charged an additional amount on top of your home insurance premium. For a separate policy, 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 coverage and prices.

How to file windstorm insurance claims

The damage that windstorms cause can be devastating. Approximately one out of every 35 homeowners will make a wind- or hail-related insurance claim each year according to Triple-I. If your home has been damaged by a windstorm, you may choose to file a homeowners insurance claim to help pay for the cost of repairs. Here is a snapshot of how to make a successful claim:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Document the damage: Keep a timeline of the events before, during and after a storm. Be sure to keep documentation of all damage, such as photographs or receipts for emergency repairs.
  4. 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 beginning.
  5. 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 help cover its restoration to the state it was in prior to the damage.

Frequently asked questions

Written by
Shannon Martin
Writer, Insurance
Shannon Martin is a licensed insurance agent and Bankrate analyst with over 15 years of experience in the industry. She enjoys helping others navigate the insurance world by cutting through complex jargon and empowering readers to make strong financial decisions independently.
Edited by Editor, Insurance