Q

Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?

A

Yes, homeowners insurance protects your home and personal belongings from damage caused by tornadoes.

Jennifer Gimbel

By 

Jennifer Gimbel

Jennifer Gimbel

Managing Editor & Home Insurance Expert

Jennifer Gimbel is a managing editor and home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our homeowners insurance coverage. Previously, she was the managing editor at Finder.com and a content strategist at Babble.com.

Updated February 17, 2022 | 4 min read

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Home insurance covers tornado damage from wind, rain, fallen trees, and more — 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.

Key Takeaways

  • A standard homeowners insurance policy covers tornado damage.

  • Damage from flooding is never covered under standard home insurance.

  • If you live in Tornado Alley, you might have to purchase a separate wind and hail insurance policy.

  • Tornado damage doesn’t come with its own deductible, though windstorm damage does in certain states.

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Does home insurance cover tornado damage?

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, homeowners 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.

  • Other structures coverage. Covers damage to any other structures on your property, like sheds, detached garages, fences, and mailboxes.

  • Personal property coverage. Covers damage to your belongings, including furniture, appliances, clothing, computers, and more.

  • Loss of use coverage. Covers expenses to live elsewhere while your home is being rebuilt, such as hotel stays and restaurant meals.

Will homeowners insurance pay for me to live somewhere else if my home is destroyed by a tornado?

Yes, the loss of use portion of your home insurance policy kicks in to pay for hotel stays, dining out, pet boarding, and other living expenses if your home is destroyed during a tornado. 

Most home insurance policies offer 30% of your dwelling coverage limit in loss-of-use protection. That means if your home is insured for $500,000, you’d have $150,000 in loss-of-use coverage to pay for additional living expenses while your home is being rebuilt.

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.

Wind and hail

Wind and hail damage is covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy. But it’s common for insurance companies in Tornado Alley to require you to purchase a coverage add-on or separate windstorm policy altogether for wind and hail damage. This type of coverage might come with a separate deductible.

Wind-driven rain

Homeowners insurance covers most water damage that is sudden and internal — like wind-driven rain during a tornado. So 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.

Mold and water damage

Mold caused by a covered peril should be covered under a standard home insurance policy. But water damage from flooding will not be covered.

Fallen trees

Home insurance covers property damage caused by fallen trees as long as the tree fell because of a covered peril, like if a tornado uprooted a tree and it fell onto your home. But if the tree was already dead and rotting before the tornado took it down and your insurer can prove it, you may not be covered.

Debris removal

Homeowners insurance covers debris removal after a tornado as long as the debris includes damage to the structure of your home. That means if a tree falls on your home, that debris removal would be covered. But if a tree just falls in your yard without damaging anything, you’d have to foot the bill yourself.

Food spoilage

Many standard home insurance policies cover up to $500 in food loss after a power outage — including those caused by a tornado. If it’s not included in your policy, you can usually have it added for an additional fee. 

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.

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How much home insurance should I purchase in case of 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 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.

Dwelling and other structures coverage limits 

If you live in a tornado-prone area, make sure your home is insured up to its full replacement cost — that’s how much it would cost to completely rebuild your home at current construction and labor prices.

That means your dwelling coverage limit should be high enough to fully replace your home in the event of a disaster.

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.

Other structures coverage is usually 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 limits

Most home insurance policies set your personal property coverage limits at 50% of your policy’s dwelling coverage limit. That means if your home is insured for $500,000, then your personal belongings would be covered up to $250,000.

But keep in mind that standard 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 property at its replacement cost value, you’d get the full $20,000 to replace your belongings.

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.

In Texas, a windstorm deductible applies to windstorm and hail damage from any type of wind storm, including tornadoes. 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 a tornado damage claim

Follow these steps to file a home insurance claim after a tornado:

  1. Reach out to your home insurance company ASAP.

  2. Document the damage by taking photos and videos.

  3. Make temporary repairs if your home is still livable and save the receipts.

  4. If you’re forced to relocate, also hold on to your receipts to be reimbursed.

  5. File your claim and work with the insurer to have a claims adjuster survey the damage.

  6. Use your claim payment from your insurance company to pay for repairs.

Hot tip: Document all discussions with your insurance company to avoid any issues during the claim settlement process.

How to prepare for a tornado

Follow these tips to prepare for a tornado:

  • Keep an up-to-date inventory of your personal belongings.

  • Trim back tree limbs that are hanging near your home.

  • Create an emergency kit of essentials including water, 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. [1]

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Frequently asked questions

Does home insurance cover damage to cars during a tornado?

No, home insurance will not cover damage to your car due to a tornado. Instead, your car insurance should cover any losses to your automobiles caused by weather events, including tornadoes.

How much does tornado insurance cost?

Since tornado damage is typically covered under your standard home insurance policy, the cost of insurance will depend on how much coverage you carry on your home and belongings. To give you an idea, the average cost of homeowners insurance is $1,249 per year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

How much does windstorm insurance cost?

If you’re required to take out a separate windstorm policy in addition to your standard home insurance policy, you might pay around $1,700 for the extra protection. This is the average cost of a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policy, according to its website.