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Standard home insurance policies typically include some coverage for wind damage. But in many cases, you may want to purchase additional windstorm insurance for extra protection.
Here’s what you need to know about windstorm insurance, what it covers, and how to get it.
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What is windstorm insurance?
Windstorms — which include things like tornadoes, straight-line winds, and hurricanes — are a named peril on most home insurance policies. This means if one of these storms causes damage to your home, your policy will cover the repairs and other associated costs — after you meet your deductible.
But in some areas of the country, this basic coverage is more limited. If you’re in a hurricane-prone state or a high-risk coastal area, for example, your mortgage lender may require you to purchase an additional windstorm insurance policy (or even a hurricane-specific policy) to protect your property from these events.
How does windstorm insurance work?
When you add separate windstorm coverage, you typically get a rider on your homeowners insurance policy — meaning it’s an addition to your policy, not actually a part of your main coverage.
Once added, your windstorm insurance will cover damage to your property and personal belongings should a hurricane or other wind event blow through. Depending on where you live, your windstorm insurance may only kick in when winds reach a certain speed or when the National Weather Service officially names a storm. Be sure to carefully review your policy so you understand how to use it and what exactly it covers.
If a covered event occurs, take pictures of any damage your home has suffered, in addition to detailed notes, and contact your insurance agent to begin the claims process. They will send an adjuster out to assess your property and the costs to repair it, minus your deductible.
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What does windstorm insurance cover?
Windstorm insurance usually covers hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, tropical storms, and high-wind events. These are known as “covered perils” in your policy documents. Your windstorm insurance policy generally affects your dwelling coverage (Coverage A) and personal property coverage (Coverage C), since it protects your home and belongings.
It’s important to note that windstorm insurance has two types of deductibles: A hurricane deductible only applies to damage from hurricanes, while a windstorm or wind/hail deductible covers any kind of wind damage. Keep in mind, a windstorm deductible is typically a percentage of your home’s total insured value — usually 1% to 10%. So, if your main policy insures your home for a replacement value of $300,000, you’ll pay anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000 for this deductible.
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What doesn’t windstorm insurance cover?
Windstorm insurance typically won’t cover damage from flooding (even in a hurricane or other windstorm). If you’re in a flood- or hurricane-prone area, you may need a separate flood insurance policy to cover the possible damage from these events.
Your windstorm insurance also won’t cover damage from a storm surge or mold that’s not related to a covered peril.
For example: If a hurricane brings heavy winds that rip off part of your roof, and then rain damages the exposed part of your property, your windstorm insurance would only cover the roof repair — not the subsequent damage from the rain. Similarly, if your car was damaged due to a fence falling in a tornado, your windstorm insurance would cover the fallen fence but not your car.
How much windstorm coverage should you get?
If you’re in a particularly high-risk area, your lender might mandate windstorm coverage, along with flood insurance. If your lender does require it, you’ll likely have to meet a minimum coverage threshold.
Even if it’s not required, you should review your existing homeowners insurance policy. Does it include any wind coverage? If so, how much? When determining how much coverage (or additional coverage) you need, take the following into account:
- Your deductible — Consider how much you’re willing to pay out of pocket if a storm occurs. Lower deductibles come with higher premiums, while high deductibles have lower premiums.
- Your savings — Do you have the funds to cover potential damage if a storm comes through? If not, more comprehensive coverage is probably the right choice.
- Your risk level — If your area is very prone to hurricanes or storms, you may want more protection.
How much does windstorm insurance cost?
The cost of windstorm insurance will vary widely based on different factors. In Texas, the average premium for a residential windstorm insurance policy from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is around $1,650. But if you live in a state that’s less prone to windstorms, you may pay much less.
Some of the many factors that influence the cost of insurance include:
- Your location — Homes located in higher-risk areas typically have higher premiums.
- The value of your property — How much your property would cost to repair or replace plays a big role in your insurance costs.
- Your home’s age — Older homes are typically more prone to damage and may cost more to insure.
- Local construction costs — These also impact your home’s replacement cost. The higher construction costs are in your area, the more you’ll typically pay for insurance.
Coastal areas, which have more exposure to hurricanes and other large storms, are typically more expensive to insure due to their heightened risk. You might also see higher premiums inland if your area has been hit with storms or catastrophic weather events frequently. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have a hurricane or named storm deductible in place. You can visit the Insurance Information Institute website to find out if your state is one of them.
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You can get windstorm insurance through your existing home insurance provider or through a separate insurer.
Here are the general steps you’ll need to follow to purchase a windstorm insurance policy:
- Contact your insurance carrier and find out how much wind coverage you currently have. As mentioned previously, it’s also important to find out if windstorm insurance is required in your area.
- Research the risk of hurricanes and other storms in your area to determine if extra coverage is needed. Both FEMA and the National Hurricane Center have tools you can use to assess your region’s specific risk.
- Compare quotes from at least three insurance providers. Start with your current insurance carrier. Make sure to get quotes for several deductible tiers so you can compare your options, and ask about any discounts you may be eligible for (many providers offer rate discounts for bundling your various policies with them). Compare these with quotes from other insurers and see which offers the best coverage and value.
- Choose a policy. Select an insurance provider and finalize your new policy.
If you’re unable to get windstorm insurance through a private insurer, you may be able to purchase wind insurance through your state’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan. Seven Atlantic and Gulf states also offer specific Beach and Windstorm Plans. FAIR Plans offer less coverage and are more expensive than private insurance, so they should be a last resort.
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