More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Which states experience the most tornadoes?
Published December 3, 2020
Tornadoes can impact just about every U.S. state, but the majority of these storms are concentrated in states throughout the Midwest and Southeast. In fact, of the average 1,137 tornadoes that occur in the United States each year, 64% of them form in states located in “Tornado Alley” and “Dixie Alley”, two regions with a disproportionately high frequency of tornadoes due to atmospheric conditions that persist for long stretches of the year.
With an average of 140 tornadoes annually, Texas is the most tornado-prone state in the U.S., followed by Kansas with 80 and Florida with 59, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data.
While it’s no secret that states like Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska experience a lot of tornadoes, the term Tornado Alley may be outdated. In recent years, the most destructive tornadoes have actually happened in Alabama, Mississippi, and other Southern states in what is infamously known as Dixie Alley. The reason is fairly simple: the South generally a greater population density than the Plains, and the density and path length of the tornadoes themselves appears to be highest in the Southeast.
Bear in mind that, depending on your state and insurance company, you may have to pay a separate deductible on losses caused by wind and hail. Known as a wind/hail deductible, it’s typically listed as a percentage of your home’s coverage limit, not a fixed dollar amount. In other words, if your wind/hail deductible is 5% and your home is insured for $250,000, you would have to pay $12,500 (250,000 x 0.05) before you’d be reimbursed for a wind and hail-related loss.
If you live in a tornado-prone area and you’re unable to find homeowners insurance due to your home’s high risk, you have a couple of options. One is to get coverage through a non-admitted surplus carrier. “Non-admitted” essentially means the carrier isn’t licensed with the state, but they’re allowed to sell insurance. Surplus carriers don’t have to follow the same underwriting criteria as admitted carriers, so they’re able to take on higher risks.
However, the smarter option may be to get coverage through your state’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan, a type of last-resort homeowners insurance that provides fire and wind coverage for homes that aren’t insurable on the private market.
One thing to note about FAIR Plans is they don’t cover losses like theft and water damage, and don’t provide any liability or medical payments coverage — but you may be able to combine your FAIR Plan with a difference in conditions (DIC) policy to fills in the aforementioned coverage gaps. FAIR Plans are not available in every state.
Pat Howard is a homeowners insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. He has written extensively about home insurance cost, coverage, and companies since 2018, and his insights have been featured on Investopedia, Lifehacker, MSN, Zola, HerMoney, and Property Casualty 360.
Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.
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