Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane damage?

Homeowners insurance technically covers damage from tropical hurricane winds and rain. However, depending on where you live a special hurricane or wind deductible may apply.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

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Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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The 2022 hurricane season is already underway, with experts predicting a 65% chance of an “above average” season, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). [1] If your home or personal property are damaged by hurricane winds, homeowners insurance will generally help cover the cost of repairs. However, most policies won’t cover water damage caused by flooding or storm surge from a hurricane — that requires separate flood insurance

If your home is in a hurricane-prone area, your insurer may charge a separate and more expensive policy deductible for hurricane wind damage, or exclude wind coverage from your policy altogether. It’s also common for insurance companies to place a moratorium on new and existing policies once a tropical storm has officially been named by the National Weather Service. Be sure to get the coverage you need and make any changes to your policy well in advance of a storm.

Key takeaways

  • Most homeowners insurance policies cover wind damage and wind-driven rain during a hurricane.

  • Insurance companies may charge separate wind, named storm, or hurricane deductible before they’ll pay out for tropical storm damage.

  • Home insurance won’t cover flood damage, so you’ll need flood insurance to cover your home against hurricane storm surge.

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How much hurricane coverage do you need?

Hurricanes happen most frequently between June and November every year. Before hurricane season starts, be sure that every section of your policy is optimized to reflect your home’s hurricane risk. That includes updating your policy and identifying other coverage needs.

You’ll want to make sure there is enough coverage to pay for the extensive and exorbitant costs associated with hurricanes. For instance, if a Category 5 storm rolls through and wipes out everything in its path — including your home — you’ll need to be reimbursed for temporary shelter and restaurant meals while your home is being rebuilt, a process that can last months or even years.

Pay special attention to the following coverage areas:

Dwelling coverage

Personal property coverage

Loss of use coverage

  • Covers additional living expenses like temporary housing and food costs if your home is uninhabitable after a hurricane

  • Most insurers will offer the option of higher loss-of-use coverage limits depending on where you live. If you live on the coast, look into increasing your loss-of-use coverage amount and time limits for the coverage

How hurricane deductibles work in homeowners insurance

A deductible is the out-of-pocket amount that you’re responsible for paying on a claim before your insurance company will reimburse you for the remainder of a loss. For most covered losses, you’ll pay a standard dollar amount deductible like $500 or $1,000. 

But if your policy has a hurricane deductible, you’ll be required to pay that separate amount on a claim involving wind damage from hurricanes. Hurricane deductibles are typically a percentage — usually 1% to 5% but sometimes higher — of your home’s insurance amount. 

Here’s an example of how it works.

Say your hurricane deductible is 3% and your home is insured for $400,000. You’ll have to pay a $12,000 deductible before your insurer will cover the remainder of your loss.

Where can I find my hurricane insurance deductible?

Your hurricane insurance deductible can be easily located on your policy’s declaration page, which is the monthly or annual invoice for your policy.

Do I need a hurricane deductible?

Almost every state on the Atlantic coast allows insurers to charge special deductibles for hurricane damage, but depending on your insurer and the state you live in, you may have the option to pay higher premiums in exchange for a lower, fixed-price deductible.

You can also leave the deductible off of your policy altogether for a reduced premium, but this might be a bad idea if you live in an area at high risk of hurricanes since you’re essentially forfeiting coverage from hurricane damage.

When does a hurricane deductible kick in?

The event that triggers the hurricane deductible varies by state and insurance company, but companies typically wait for an official hurricane ruling from the National Weather Service. Otherwise known as a deductible trigger, the deciding factor could be one of the below circumstances:

  • The storm was defined (Category 3 or 4)

  • The storm was given a name (Lucy or Michael)

  • There was an official declared hurricane watch or warning

Which states have hurricane deductibles?

Homeowners insurance companies in every Atlantic coast state (except New Hampshire) include percentage hurricane deductibles that you can add onto your policy. 

We provided a list of the 19 states and District of Columbia where insurers require hurricane deductibles, along with links to the associations in states that offer special form hurricane windstorm coverage for people who can’t afford it or are unable to buy it elsewhere.

Keep in mind that what qualifies as a hurricane during underwriting varies from state to state, so be sure to check with your state’s insurance department to find out what constitutes a hurricane trigger.

You should also see if insurers in your state offer discounts for being proactive and storm-proofing your house against powerful storms. Certain coastal areas may also have special financing programs for people who can’t afford insurance.

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What’s a hurricane moratorium?

An insurance moratorium is a period of time before a windstorm or natural disaster where new policies can’t be written and updates to existing policies can’t be made. Most carriers dictate that once a hurricane watch or warning has been issued by the NOAA, coverage can’t be written until a certain number of hours after the watch or warning expires — usually anywhere from 24 to 78 hours — although some moratoriums can last longer.

Additional hurricane insurance considerations

Consider filling in your coverage gaps with the following coverages to make sure you’re fully insured against tropical storm damage:

Flood insurance

Your homeowners insurance policy won’t cover flood damage caused by hurricanes, but they may offer a flood coverage endorsement that you can add onto your policy. If not, most large insurance companies offer flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) — a division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 90% of all natural disasters include some form of flooding, so homeowners in coastal states should make sure their home is well-equipped with flood insurance. [2]

You can use FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to assess your flood risk.

Windstorm insurance  

If you live in a hurricane-prone coastal community in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, or another high-risk coastal state, it’s possible that your insurer will exclude wind damage from your policy. If that’s the case, you’ll need separate windstorm insurance to cover property damage from hurricane winds. Windstorm insurance can be purchased from private companies or through state-run insurance pools, also known as Beach and Windstorm Plans.

Debris removal coverage

If a hurricane causes debris to accumulate on your property, like a fallen tree or power line, your homeowners insurance will cover the cost of getting rid of the debris, but only up to a certain amount. Debris removal after a hurricane can cost you well into the thousands, so check to see if your insurer offers a coverage endorsement to increase your debris removal reimbursement beyond the policy limits.

Water backup coverage

Another unwanted consequence of hurricanes is sewage overflow resulting from floods. Water backup coverage protects your home and personal belongings from water damage if sewage water backs up into your home through your plumbing or sump pump. You can add water backup coverage to your home insurance for an additional premium.

What to do if you’re underinsured or don’t have adequate hurricane coverage

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to limit hurricane damage to your home if you’re underinsured or don’t have a policy at all. Below are some steps to take to prevent detrimental hurricane damage.

  • Trim branches and trees

  • Secure outdoor furniture or potential debris

  • Install storm shutters or put plywood over your windows and glass doors

  • Ensure garage doors are approved for wind pressure and impact

  • Seal any openings into your home like vents, power outlets, random holes, or pipes

  • Clean gutters and any direct downspouts that lead water away from your house

→ Take a deeper dive into how to prepare for a hurricane: 9 things to do TODAY

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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of insurance covers hurricane damage?

You’ll need both home insurance and flood insurance to be fully protected from hurricane damage. In the event your homeowners insurance excludes wind damage from coverage, you’ll also need a separate windstorm insurance policy.

What happens if your house is destroyed by a hurricane?

In the event that your house is destroyed by a hurricane, contact your insurer immediately to begin your home insurance claim process. If your insurer determines the destruction is covered by your policy, you’ll be reimbursed for a new home up to the coverage limit in your policy. Your insurer will also cover additional living expenses while your house is being rebuilt.

When is hurricane season?

Hurricane season runs June through November and peaks in September. The states with the most hurricanes include Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina.

How does homeowners insurance work after a hurricane?

If your home is damaged after a hurricane, you'll need to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company. If there's flood damage, you'll need to file a claim with your flood insurance company. It's a good idea to take photos of the damage before making any temporary repairs to your home. Once your claim is accepted, your insurer may send a claims adjuster out to your home to confirm the damage. From there, your insurer will move forward with repairs and claim reimbursement.

References

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Policygenius uses external sources, including government data, industry studies, and reputable news organizations to supplement proprietary marketplace data and internal expertise. Learn more about how we use and vet external sources as part of our

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  1. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

    . "

    NOAA predicts above-normal 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season

    ." Accessed June 02, 2022.

  2. Insurance Information Institute

    . "

    Flood: An insurable peril that's underinsured

    ." Accessed June 03, 2022.

Authors

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Managing Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Pat Howard is a managing editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Kara McGinley is a senior editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

gray twitter icon linkgray linkedin icon link

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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