Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?

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

Jennifer Gimbel

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Jennifer Gimbel

Jennifer Gimbel

Senior Managing Editor & Home Insurance Expert

Jennifer Gimbel is a senior 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.

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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Home 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. [1]

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?

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, 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. 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. 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. Covers damage to your belongings, including furniture, appliances, clothing, computers, and more. 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. Typically set at 20% of your dwelling coverage limit, depending on the insurer.

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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Additional homeowners insurance coverage considerations for 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.

Below are some things you can do to be fully protected in the event of a catastrophic tornado.

Add endorsements to your homeowners policy

There are a couple endorsements you can add to your home policy to enhance your dwelling coverage.

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 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.

With so many tornadoes in Texas, a windstorm deductible applies to windstorm and hail damage from any type of wind storm. 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 much does tornado insurance cost?

A standard homeowners insurance policy costs $1,899 per year on average. In some states, wind coverage may be excluded from your homeowners insurance. If you’re required to take out a separate windstorm insurance 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.

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.

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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. [2]

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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 windstorm insurance cost?

The cost of windstorm insurance will vary based on the insurer and your coverage needs. The average cost of a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policy is $1,700 per year, according to its website.

What states are located in Tornado Alley?

Tornado Alley typically refers to the region in the United States where tornadoes occur most frequently, which includes West and North Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and parts of Colorado and New Mexico.

However, climatologists have since seen a shift in tornadoes to the Southeast and identified what they call the new Tornado Alley that consists of Eastern Texas and Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.

What states have the most tornadoes?

The top five states that see the most tornadoes each year — in order — include Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Mississippi.

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. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    . "

    Climate Monitoring. U.S. Tornadoes

    ." Accessed July 29, 2022.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    . "

    Staying Safe in a Tornado

    ." Accessed February 17, 2022.

Author

Senior Managing Editor & Home Insurance Expert

Jennifer Gimbel

Senior Managing Editor & Home Insurance Expert

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Jennifer Gimbel is a senior 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.

Expert reviewer

Certified Financial Planner

Kristi Sullivan, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner

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Kristi Sullivan, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, she was a regional consultant at Fidelity Investments for nine years.

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