Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

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When Hurricane Irma came whipping into town in September 2017, areas throughout the Atlantic basin suffered from severe winds gusting upwards of 185 miles per hour and storm surges that soared as high as 39 feet before crashing down and taking everything with it.

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Hurricane Irma has been a learning experience for homeowners everywhere, as we witnessed first-hand the damage that hurricanes can cause. Puerto Rico and the Florida Keys sustained losses from which they are still recovering, and the state of Florida realized a pressing need to expand its hurricane and disaster programs.

Homeowners insurance does not include hurricane damage. Hurricane insurance is a two-part bundle of coverage that includes both flood insurance and windstorm insurance. Between these two specialized forms of homeowners insurance, you have the coverage you need from hurricanes.

You must know what to look for and what you need before you commit to a new homeowners insurance policy.

Do I need hurricane insurance?

Hurricane season arrives every year with a relentless onslaught of punishing winds and driving rains. NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reports that 2017 was a record year for climate disasters, including Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic basin and Hurricane Maria immediately thereafter. In total, there were 16 climate disasters that year, costing a minimum of $1 billion each.

With this kind of risk, homeowners in potential hurricane areas cannot afford to go without specialized homeowners insurance. If you live in a state or a part of a state that has a history of hurricanes, you are a candidate for this kind of coverage.

How much hurricane coverage do I need?

Just because a company offers hurricane coverage doesn’t mean that it is the right coverage for you. In the event of extreme, widespread damage like with Hurricane Katrina, you will need an attentive insurance company who can help you recover your losses.

The amount of hurricane coverage you need will depend on different factors, like where you live, your home’s construction and the weather patterns for your area. Windstorm insurance is a popular option because it includes not just hurricanes but also all wind-related damages like tornadoes and cyclones.

Another part of hurricane coverage you need is flood insurance. This is the coverage that would take care of water damage caused by hurricanes and the resulting flooding. In most states, flood insurance has to be purchased separately from your home insurance policy.

While hurricane insurance isn’t always included in standard home insurance, it is almost always available as an add-on. Regardless of how hurricane insurance is packaged, it is protection that most homeowners cannot afford to go without.

What’s a hurricane deductible?

Just like a standard insurance policy, your hurricane coverage will require a deductible. This is separate from your regular insurance deductible and can vary depending on your policy.

Most hurricane deductibles range from 2% to 5% of your home’s total value. Still, requirements can also be state-specific, like Florida, which offers the option of a $500 deductible in exchange for a higher insurance premium. Ask your insurance company what options are available for your area.

Which states require hurricane deductibles?

There are nineteen states that require hurricane and windstorm deductibles, in addition to Washington, D.C. These include:

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

How much does hurricane insurance cost?

The Insurance Information Institute reports the average cost of homeowners insurance in the United States is $1,173 each year. Because most companies exclude hurricane insurance from standard coverage, many homeowners are forced to buy extra coverage.

Flood insurance is available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for an average cost of $672 per year, but you may also elect private coverage. Windstorm insurance rates vary depending on where you live, but one example is the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which offers an average annual premium of $1,600. Look to see if your state has a similar association.

What should I do if I am not adequately covered?

Hurricane insurance may already be included within your homeowners insurance policy. If you need to purchase additional coverage for windstorm or flood insurance, be sure that you buy coverage suitable for your area. If you live in West Virginia, you do not need the same coverage as someone who lives on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

With most companies, you also have the option to pay in monthly installments instead of paying the entire annual premium upfront. That keeps it more affordable, with an average flood insurance only costing $56 per month and windstorm insurance for under $135 a month.

Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed over 300,000 homes, and uninsured losses of $215 billion significantly topped insured losses of just $35 billion. After Hurricane Irma, over 823,000 Florida homeowners filed insurance claims for property damage with estimated insured losses topping $9.7 billion. Additionally, wind damage is estimated to account for up to $19 billion in insured losses, while residential flood loss tacks on another $5 to $8 billion.

After a natural disaster, you will need help to rebuild, and that is where your homeowners insurance becomes your best ally. For what it costs, it’s a simple measure that will offer you substantial protection without burning a hole through your pocket.

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Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

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