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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
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.
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.
[Read more: Best Home Insurance Companies of 2020]
Do I need hurricane insurance?
Hurricane season arrives every year with a relentless onslaught of punishing winds and driving rains. In 2019, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) reported 18 named storms. Fortunately, many of the storms last year were weak and short-lived. Only eight out of the 18 storms lasted more than three days. Even still, hurricane losses in 2019 totaled an estimated $45 billion.
However, one below-average hurricane season doesn’t negate the potentially catastrophic effects of a hurricane. According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and North Carolina have the highest number of hurricanes on average. Homeowners in these states should strongly consider purchasing hurricane insurance to protect their home from costly damage.
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 10% 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:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
When does my hurricane deductible kick in?
If you file a home insurance claim for hurricane damage, you don’t automatically have to pay a hurricane deductible. Your insurance company will require you to pay a hurricane deductible based on certain deductible triggers. These triggers are different for every company.
For example, some insurance companies require homeowners to pay a hurricane deductible if the storm is officially declared a hurricane by the National Weather Service. Other providers require a deductible if the storm reaches a certain category, or if it’s a named storm.
If you are required to pay a hurricane deductible, you’ll receive a check for the repairs, minus the cost of your deductible. If you aren’t required to pay a hurricane deductible, you’ll still have to pay your dwelling insurance deductible.
How much does hurricane insurance cost?
The Insurance Information Institute reports the average cost of homeowners insurance in the United States is $1,211 each year. Because most companies exclude hurricane insurance from standard coverage, many homeowners are forced to buy extra coverage.
The cost of windstorm and flood insurance varies by provider and where you live. Keep in mind that hurricane insurance tends to be more expensive in high-risk areas. However, the cost of hurricane insurance is probably cheaper than paying out-of-pocket to repair damage after a major storm.
Homeowners in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, the Carolinas and other states along the eastern seaboard benefit the most from hurricane insurance. If you aren’t able to afford coverage through a private insurance provider, there are resources available. Most states offer low-cost coverage through a Beach Plan, FAIR Plan or a Market Assistance Plan (MAP).
Does hurricane insurance cover flooding?
Hurricane insurance includes flood insurance, so any flood-related damage after a storm would be covered. Flood insurance is available through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for an average cost of $672 per year. You can also get flood insurance through some private insurance companies, although it might be more expensive.
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.
[ Read: Best Flood Insurance Companies 2020]
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.
[Related: Best Homeowners Insurance in Florida]
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 billion 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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