More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Published September 2, 2020
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Homeowners insurance covers your home and personal belongings from many types of tornado damage, including damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, and fallen trees. If a tornado displaces you from your home and you’re forced to live elsewhere, homeowners insurance may also cover your additional living expenses. However, water damage from flooding that occurs during a tornado would not be covered by home insurance.
A tornado can cause significant damage to your home and personal property, and although home insurance does cover tornado damage, your insurer will only reimburse you up to the coverage limits in your policy. 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.
A standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers wind, hail, and fallen tree damage during a tornado
Homeowners insurance also covers water damage in the event a tornado damages your roof and rainwater gets in
Your insurer may require you to pay a separate deductible to be covered for wind and hail losses
Homeowners insurance can help cover the cost of a home rebuild, repairs, or new personal belongings in the event they’re damaged in a tornado. But whether or not your property is covered depends on the specific cause of the damage.
Wind and hail damage is covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, but it’s common for insurance companies in Tornado Alley to require a separate wind and hail deductible in addition to an “all other perils” deductible. A higher wind and hail deductible may lower your insurance premiums, but the higher amount may prove unaffordable in the event of a tornado damage claim. Make sure you set your deductible at an amount you can afford to pay out.
Coverage for water damage varies based on the cause, but damage from wind-driven rain is generally covered. If rainwater enters your home through an opening in your roof or foundation caused by a tornado, the resulting water damage would typically be covered. In general, homeowners insurance covers most water damage that is sudden and internal — like pipe bursts or wind-driven rain — but other types of water damage, like flooding and sewer backups, would not be covered.
Home insurance covers property damage caused by fallen trees as long as the tree fell because of a covered peril, including if a tornado uprooted a tree and it fell onto your home.
However, there are some cases where fallen tree damage and removal wouldn’t be covered. If the tree was already dead and rotting prior to the tornado taking it down, you may not be covered for the tree’s removal and any damage it caused to your home. But given the devastation a tornado can have on a perfectly healthy tree, it’s very unlikely that your insurer would be able to prove the tree fell because of age or rot and not the tornado itself.
Homeowners insurance also includes coverage for debris removal — including removal of fallen trees and covered property — after a storm or fire. One caveat to this coverage is homeowners insurance will usually pay to remove a tree from your property if it damages a covered structure (like your home or garage), but won’t cover its removal if it lands innocently in your yard without damaging anything. Some homeowners insurance companies offer additional debris removal protection with higher policy limits.
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While tornado damage itself is covered by homeowners insurance, any flooding that happens during the storm would not be covered. Residents of tornado-prone areas with any amount of flood risk should consider flood insurance to supplement their homeowners insurance policy.
Your insurer will only pay for covered damages up to your coverage limits in your policy. Your dwelling coverage limit is determined by your home’s replacement cost value or how much it would cost to completely rebuild your home at current construction and labor prices (without depreciation).
If you live in a tornado-prone area, it’s especially important to make sure your home is insured up to its full rebuild cost, not its market value. Given the fact that tornadoes are powerful enough to take out entire neighborhoods, your dwelling coverage limit should be high enough to fully replace your home in the event of a disaster.
Bear in mind that 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 any region prone to tornadoes, consider upgrading your claim settlement terms to increase your home’s coverage amounts in the event your policy limit isn’t high enough.
Many insurers offer extended replacement cost , an endorsement that raises your dwelling coverage limits an additional 25% or 50% if your base coverage limit isn’t high enough for a full rebuild. Some insurers also offer guaranteed replacement cost coverage which covers a full rebuild of your home regardless of the cost.
Coverage for personal property also has its limits, as you’re typically reimbursed for its actual cash value in a basic HO-3 policy. If you live in a tornado-prone area, consider covering your personal property at its replacement cost for more complete protection against tornado damage.
Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.
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