Hurricane season in the U.S. typically runs from June through November, often peaking in September.
Every year, meteorologists at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast the anticipated number of hurricanes and tropical storms for the upcoming season. The current prediction for 2022 is 13 storms with 3 major events.
Luckily, most hurricanes and storms don’t make landfall, meaning they stay over the ocean and don’t directly affect populated areas. But if you live in a part of the country at risk for hurricanes and tropical storms, it’s essential to be ready.
This article will help you understand what hurricane insurance does and doesn’t cover, how much you need and the best way to ensure you have enough.
What Is Hurricane Insurance?
Flooding and wind cause most hurricane damage. Therefore, protecting your home and possessions from hurricane damage requires separate flood and wind insurance.
Flood damage is a significant concern, as hurricanes typically bring tremendous rain and storm surges. Coastal areas are exposed to rising water from 20- to 30-foot storm surges and higher surf activity. This combination can destroy structures close to the coast.
Flooding can take place inland as well. Think back to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Much of the damage happened when levees designed to protect the area failed, and most of New Orleans was submerged in water.
Hurricane-force winds also cause significant damage, specifically to windows and garage doors, which are often the first structural element to fail. Boarding over windows can help, but this doesn’t guarantee safety when wind speeds exceed 100 miles per hour. Roofs are frequently damaged or destroyed, and damage also results from flying debris.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
Unlike the risk of a lightning strike or fire, your home isn’t automatically insured against hurricanes. Like homeowners who live in earthquake-prone areas like California, you may need a particular homeowners insurance policy or endorsement (also known as an insurance rider) for hurricane coverage.
For example, wind damage is covered in most states. But if you live in an area at risk for hurricanes, you may find that damage you sustain from hurricane winds isn’t covered if you don’t have a specific provision for it.
For homeowners insurance coverage, flood damage differs from water damage caused by a burst pipe or some other source. It’s almost always excluded from your homeowner’s policy. To cover flood damage, you need a flood insurance policy.
If you neglect flood insurance, the cost can be exorbitant. One inch of water in your home can cause more than $25,000 in damage, and the average payout from a flood claim is over $50,000.
What Policies Protect You from Hurricane Damage?
Remember, there’s no specific insurance policy for hurricane losses. You need to obtain flood and wind insurance to safeguard your home and belongings from potential damage.
Covering water damage
Flooding caused by a storm surge can inundate homes, ruining everything inside and leaving behind mold and decay. Replacing damaged or destroyed belongings requires a separate policy from traditional homeowners insurance.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is the largest flood insurance provider in the U.S. It’s sold through partner companies.
Most communities in the U.S. participate in the NFIP, which was created in 1968 and is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Communities in the program help by enforcing flood management in exchange for access to flood insurance for their residents.
The NFIP also oversees the maintenance of flood mapping. If you buy a home in an area prone to flooding, you’ll likely need a flood insurance policy as part of the mortgage lending process.
The flood damage policy should cover structural elements like your foundation, walls, roof, staircase(s), installed appliances, cabinets, paneling and bookshelves. It’ll also protect electrical, plumbing and heating systems. But don’t overlook contents coverage to replace personal belongings, including clothing, furniture, electronics, artwork, carpeting and drapes.
Covering wind damage
In most states, if your home is damaged by wind, your homeowners policy will cover the costs. However, if you live in one of the hurricane-prone states along the east or southern coast, that’s not the case.
Residents of those areas need a special windstorm policy and will often need to get it from a particular agency. Wind can cause significant damage to your roof, windows, siding, doors (especially garage doors) and fencing. It can also destroy outbuildings, landscaping and outdoor belongings.
You can usually get windstorm insurance from your homeowners insurance company – and potentially from a state-run agency in some coastal regions. The good news is this kind of policy can also cover damage from a tornado or other type of storm.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have special programs for residents to buy Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR), Beach or Coastal Market Assistance insurance plans for windstorm damage. These state-mandated programs simplify and expand access for residents in areas with historically higher claims from wind damage.
In some participating states, these public plans are available to anyone. In others, homeowners must first try to purchase coverage through private insurers or meet other eligibility standards.
Jurisdictions offering state-managed insurance for wind damage include:
- Alabama Insurance Underwriting Association
- Coastal Market Assistance Program
- Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
- Georgia Underwriting Association (GUA)
- Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation
- Maryland Joint Insurance Association
- Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association
- Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association
- New Jersey Insurance Underwriting Association
- New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association
- Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association
- South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association
- Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)
- Virginia Property Insurance Association
Protect your possessions
Insurance is one of those purchases we hope we never need to use. But when we do need it, it’s usually a process. Filing a claim using your wind or flood damage policy won’t be any different.
One thing you can do now to simplify the claims process is to create a detailed home inventory. If you never have to use it, that’s great. Just remember to update it twice a year.
Maintaining this inventory will improve your experience with your insurance provider should you need to file a claim. It also increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to get a complete reimbursement for your damaged and destroyed property.
How Does a Hurricane Deductible Work?
Most insurance policies have a deductible, which is the amount the insured party must pay out of pocket before the insurance activates.
Say you file a claim for $3,000 because of a loss due to theft. If you have a $1,000 deductible, the insurance company will subtract that amount from the reimbursement.
However, with windstorm insurance, deductibles can be more complex. An event deductible will most likely be a percentage of the home’s insured value instead of a flat dollar amount. For example, if you have a home insured for $500,000 with a 5% hurricane deductible, your out-of-pocket cost before insurance starts to pay would be $25,000.
In some cases, the policy may have a windstorm deductible that follows the typical dollar amount approach. The flat amount might apply if the wind event doesn’t meet the standard of a named storm. But if the storm is strong enough to receive a name (like Tropical Storm Julie, for example), then the value-based deductible kicks in.
A storm that strengthens to a hurricane may trigger a higher deductible in some areas. So depending on your policy, damage caused by a storm that gets a name could cost you more than the same damage resulting from a smaller, less powerful wind event.
States with additional hurricane deductible charges
Some high-risk states limit the percentages insurers can set for deductible thresholds. Others have no restrictions and allow the market to set the standard.
|Alabama||Deductible options of 1%, 2%, 5% and 10%|
|Connecticut||Insurers may not mandate special windstorm deductibles|
|Delaware||Requires insurers to disclose separate deductibles|
|Florida||Offers flat or percentage deductibles|
|Georgia||GUA policies carry a 2% deductible|
|Louisiana||Imposition of hurricane deductibles limited to once per year|
|Maryland||Deductibles typically between 2% – 4%|
|Massachusetts||Deductibles vary according to proximity to the coast|
|Mississippi||Deductibles average 2% of the insured value|
|New York||Percentage and flat deductibles available|
|Pennsylvania||Deductibles typically 1% – 5%|
|Rhode Island||Deductibles cannot exceed 5% of the insured value|
|South Carolina||Does not regulate deductibles|
|Texas||TWIA has flat rate and percentage deductibles|
|Virginia||Limits the deductible to 5% of the insured value|
How Much Is Hurricane Insurance?
The average cost for flood protection, on top of the cost of your homeowners insurance, is $700 annually. Windstorm insurance will typically cost more. For example, the average TWIA annual policy costs $1,750.
Depending on where you live, there are significant cost differences for hurricane coverage and added protection for wind and flooding. Not surprisingly, the states with more frequent hurricanes – like Florida, Texas and especially Louisiana – have higher rates for coverage.
These factors will also affect the cost of your insurance:
- What’s being covered, such as the building and its contents, and how much coverage
- The deductible amount
- Your home’s age and design
- The cost to rebuild your home
Don’t Get Caught in the Storm
You’ve worked hard to be a homeowner. Protect your investment by obtaining the appropriate amount of insurance, including windstorm and flood protection when needed, to safeguard your home and belongings in a hurricane.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “NOAA predicts above-normal 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.noaa.gov/news-release/noaa-predicts-above-normal-2022-atlantic-hurricane-season
UCAR Center for Science Education. “Storms and the Weather: Hurricane Damage.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/storms/hurricane-damage
National Weather Service. “Hurricane Katrina – August 2005.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.weather.gov/mob/katrina
National Hurricane Survival Initiative. “Reinforcing Your Home and Business.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://hurricanesafety.org/prepare/reinforcing-your-home-and-business/
Federal Emergency Management Administration. “The Cost of Flooding.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.floodsmart.gov/cost-flooding
Federal Emergency Management Administration. “50 Years of the NFIP.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/NFIP_50th_Final_8.5x11_Regional_Printable.pdf
New York State Department of Financial Services. “Flood & Flood Insurance Information.” Retrieved August 2022 from https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/help_for_homeowners/flood_insurance