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Windstorm insurance

Palm Tree Blowing In Hurricane Winds
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Wind can be one of the most damaging forces of nature. From thunderstorms to tornadoes and hurricanes, most of the country deals with weather events that can bring high winds. If you are a homeowner, having the proper insurance coverage to protect you from financial stress if your home is damaged by a windstorm is important.

Windstorm insurance is a coverage that some homeowners insurance policies automatically include or which can be added to a policy as an endorsement. In some areas, separate windstorm insurance policies may be necessary to obtain coverage. Because wind is such a common weather event, it is important for homeowners to understand how windstorm insurance coverage works.

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 policies cover wind damage automatically or offer the option to add wind coverage by endorsement.

However, if you live in a high-risk area, you may need a separate policy for certain windstorm events. Homeowners in coastal states and areas prone to hurricanes, as well as in the Midwestern states and counties located in what is known as “tornado alley,” may want to consider confirming how wind damage is covered on their homeowners insurance policies.

Additionally, some policies include a “named storm” exclusion. This means that general wind damage could be covered, but if a storm has been given a name, as is common with hurricanes and tropical storms, the damage it causes would not be covered. If your policy has a named storm exclusion, you will need to purchase separate coverage for named storms.

How and when to purchase windstorm insurance

If you already have a homeowners insurance policy, talking to your agent can help you determine if wind damage is covered automatically or if it can be added by endorsement. If neither option is available, you will need to seek out a separate policy to obtain coverage.

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 which limit the timing for buying windstorm insurance. Many insurers impose “insurance moratoriums” 24 to 48 hours before a major hurricane or other 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 $1,477 per year. This figure is for a homeowners insurance policy with dwelling coverage of $250,000. If you are adding a windstorm endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy, you will most likely see an increase in your 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 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 price.

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 deductible level on each applicable policy and rider. 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.
  • 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

Does my homeowners insurance policy cover wind damage?

In many cases, homeowners insurance will automatically cover wind damage. However, you may need to add an endorsement to get coverage, or you may need to purchase a separate policy. However, even if wind damage is covered on your policy, there could be exclusions in place or a separate, higher windstorm deductible. Talking to your insurance company to understand how and to what extent your homeowners insurance covers damage may be a good idea.

How can you protect your home from storm damage?

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.

Written by
Rick Hoel
Insurance Contributor
Rick Hoel is an international business attorney and legal and insurance writer for Bankrate as well as and Over the last several years, he has covered topics dealing with personal and commercial insurance and technology and the law. Rick is General Counsel and Director of Risk Management and sits on the Board of Power Stow Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Power Stow A/S in Denmark, the world leader in the supply of tracked conveyor systems to the airline industry.