Homeowners insurance covers tornado damage from wind, rain, fallen trees, and more — up to the coverage limits in your policy. There are over 1,200 tornadoes on average per year across the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 
And 2023 is already seeing more tornadoes than normal in January, making it even more important that you review your home insurance coverage ahead of the spring tornado season. 
If you live in a tornado-prone area, you’ll want to make sure you have enough insurance to cover an entire rebuild of your home. It’s also a good idea to insure your personal belongings at their replacement cost so that you’re getting as much back for damaged items as possible.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?
Yes, homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and personal belongings caused by wind, rain, and fallen trees during a tornado. And if a tornado displaces you from your home and you’re forced to live elsewhere, home insurance also covers your additional living expenses. However, water damage from flooding that occurs during a tornado would not be covered by your home insurance policy.
Coverage usually falls under one of these four sections of your policy:
Dwelling coverage: Covers damage to your home, built-in appliances and systems, and any attached structures like a garage or porch. Your home should be insured at its replacement cost value.
Other structures coverage: Covers damage to any other structures on your property, like sheds, detached garages, fences, and mailboxes. Coverage limits are usually set at around 10% of your dwelling coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $500,000, your other structures coverage would protect any sheds or fences on your property up to $50,000 after a covered loss.
Personal property coverage: Covers damage to your belongings, including furniture, appliances, clothing, computers, and more. This is typically set at 50% of your dwelling coverage limit.
Loss of use coverage: Covers expenses to live elsewhere while your home is being rebuilt, such as hotel stays and restaurant meals. This is typically set at 20% of your dwelling coverage limit, depending on the insurer.
6 types of tornado damage covered by homeowners insurance
Homeowners insurance covers the cost of a home rebuild, repairs, and replacing personal belongings in the event they’re damaged in a tornado from the following covered perils.
Does homeowners insurance cover flood damage during a tornado?
No, homeowners insurance does not cover damage from flooding that happens during a tornado. While tornado damage itself is covered by homeowners insurance, any flooding that happens during the storm and damages your property isn’t covered.
Residents of tornado-prone areas with any amount of flood risk should consider buying flood insurance in addition to their standard homeowners insurance policy. Flood insurance policies cost around $738 per year, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.
How much does tornado insurance cost?
A standard homeowners insurance policy that includes tornado insurance costs $1,754 per year on average.
But in many states prone to tornadoes and windstorms — like Texas, Alabama, Missouri, and Kansas — wind coverage may be excluded from your standard home insurance policy. This means you'd need to take out a separate windstorm insurance policy in addition to your standard homeowners insurance policy.
For example, the average cost of a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policy is around $1,700 per year. Add to that the cost of a standard home insurance policy, and you could be paying upwards of $3,600 per year to ensure your home is fully protected against tornado damage.
Do you have enough insurance to protect your home from tornado damage?
Tornadoes can cause even more damage than your home is insured for, especially in disaster-prone areas where the cost of construction materials and labor may become inflated after a catastrophe. If you live in Tornado Alley or a Southeastern state prone to tornadoes, consider increasing your home’s coverage limits in the event your policy limit isn’t high enough to fully rebuild your home after a tornado destroys it.
Below are some things you can do to be fully protected in the event of a catastrophic tornado.
Increase your home's dwelling coverage limits
Here are two endorsements you can add to your home insurance policy to enhance your dwelling coverage limits after a tornado:
Extended replacement cost: Raises your dwelling coverage limits an additional 25% or 50% if your base coverage limit isn’t high enough for a full rebuild due to inflated construction and labor costs after a natural disaster.
Guaranteed replacement cost: Covers the full cost of replacing your house after a tornado, even if this amount exceeds your policy limits.
Upgrade your personal property coverage
Standard homeowners policies cover your personal property at its actual cash value — meaning depreciation is taken into account when it pays out your claim. If you live in a tornado-prone area, consider covering your personal property at its replacement cost for more complete protection against tornado damage.
Let’s take a look at an example.
Say your entire living room was damaged by a tornado, meaning all of your furniture, TV, and electronics need to be replaced. Since you bought all of these items 10 years ago, an actual cash value policy would provide a check to replace your belongings minus 10 years of depreciation. So if it would cost $20,000 to replace everything at today’s prices, taking depreciation into account, you’d likely only get around $4,000 or $5,000.
But if your policy covered your personal belongings at their replacement cost value, you’d get the full $20,000 to replace your belongings with new items — regardless of how old they are.
Is there a separate deductible for tornado claims?
No, there isn’t a separate deductible for tornado claims. However, depending on where you live, you might have to pay a separate windstorm, wind/hail, or named storm deductible for tornado damage.
Unlike standard deductibles that are a flat fee, wind or named storm deductibles are typically expressed as a percentage of your home’s dwelling coverage limit — normally anywhere from 1% to 5%.
Let’s take a look at an example.
With so many tornadoes in Texas, a windstorm deductible applies to wind and hail damage from any type of windstorm. That means if your house was insured for $500,000 and your windstorm deductible is 5% of your dwelling coverage limit, you’d need to pay $25,000 toward damages before your insurance will kick in to cover the rest.
How to file an insurance claim for tornado damage
Follow these steps to file a home insurance claim after a tornado:
Reach out to your home insurance company ASAP. You'll also want to document the damage by taking photos and videos to support your claim.
Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Hold on to your receipts so you can be reimbursed for these temporary repairs later on.
If you’re forced to relocate, also hold on to your receipts. The loss-of-use coverage in your home insurance policy will reimburse you for hotel stays, restaurant meals, and other additional living expenses if you're forced to live elsewhere while your home is being rebuilt.
File your claim and meet with a claims adjuster to survey the damage. Your insurer will send an insurance adjuster to survey the damage and determine how much your claim settlement will be.
Use your claim payment to pay for repairs. Many insurers will send one check for the repairs to the structure of your home, one check for the additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable, and another check to replace your personal belongings.
Hot tip: Document all discussions with your insurance company to avoid any issues during the claim settlement process.
How to prepare for tornado season
From installing storm-proof shutters on your windows to mapping out the safest place in your home to take shelter, here are a few ways to prepare for tornado season.
Review your home insurance policy annually. This will help ensure you have high enough coverage limits on your home and personal belongings to fully rebuild your home and replace your things after a tornado makes landfall.
Keep an up-to-date inventory of your personal belongings. This will make it easier to ensure your belongings are fully accounted for if you have to file a claim.
Get your home ready for severe weather. This includes trimming tree limbs that hang close to your roof, removing dead trees from your yard, cleaning up heavy debris on your property, moving lawn furniture inside when a tornado nears, and installing storm-proof shutters on your windows.
Create an emergency kit of essentials. FEMA recommends packing a few bags with essentials you can easily grab as you take shelter when a twister nears, including: water, non-perishable food, battery-powered radio, flashlights, first aid kits, and batteries.
Map out the safest place in your home to take shelter should a tornado hit. Hunkering down in a basement or inside a windowless room on the lowest floor of your home is typically your safest bet.