Q

Windstorm insurance: What is it and how does it work?

A

Windstorm insurance is a type of property insurance that covers your home if it’s damaged by wind or hail. This coverage can either be included in your standard home insurance or purchased as a separate wind-only policy.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By 

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor and licensed home insurance agent at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

 & Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Updated March 10, 2022 | 3 min read

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Homeowners insurance generally covers the cost of repairs if your home is damaged by wind or hail. However, in states that experience frequent tropical storms or tornadoes, like Florida and Texas, insurers commonly exclude coverage for wind and hail. This means they won’t pay out for repairs if your house or garage are damaged by high winds or hail.  

If that’s the case, you’ll need windstorm insurance — a special type of property insurance that specifically covers your home and belongings from wind or hail damage. Windstorm insurance is usually available as an add-on to your homeowners insurance, though It can also be purchased as a separate wind-only policy.

Key Takeaways

  • If you live in an area prone to frequent storms, you may need to add windstorm coverage to your homeowners insurance or purchase separate windstorm insurance.

  • Windstorm insurance is most common in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and other states where hurricanes or tornadoes are common.

  • If your home insurance company doesn’t offer windstorm coverage, you can get a wind policy through a specialized insurer or your state insurance association or FAIR Plan.

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What is windstorm insurance?

Windstorm insurance is a special type of property insurance that can either be added to your homeowners insurance or purchased as a separate policy. If you live in an area where severe windstorms are common, including the Gulf Coast or Tornado Alley, you may find that damage caused by wind and hail is excluded from your homeowners insurance – meaning if a hurricane or tornado rips shingles off of your roof, you won’t be covered for repairs. 

To fill that gap in coverage, you’ll need to buy windstorm insurance to cover the cost of damage caused by wind and hail. Windstorm insurance is intended to complement your home insurance, not replace it. 

What does windstorm insurance cover?

A typical windstorm insurance policy includes five types of coverage. Each type of coverage has a limit of liability, which is the maximum amount your insurer will pay out in the event of a windstorm claim.

  • Dwelling coverage. Covers your home and any structures attached to your home, like a garage or patio. Your dwelling coverage limit should be equal to your home’s replacement cost value, or the amount it would cost to rebuild the structure from the ground up.

  • Other structures coverage. Covers structures on your property that aren’t attached to your home, including a detached garage, shed, or a fence. Your other structures coverage limit is typically capped out at 30% of your dwelling coverage limit.

  • Personal property coverage. Covers your personal belongings, including furniture, electronics, and clothing. Expensive valuables like jewelry and watches may be subject to lower special limits of liability. Your coverage limit can typically be as high as 70% of your policy’s dwelling coverage limit.

  • Loss of rent coverage. If you rent out your property as a source of income, this coverage reimburses you for loss of rent if a windstorm makes your property uninhabitable and your tenants have to relocate.

  • Loss of use coverage. If your home is severely damaged by a windstorm, this coverage pays out for hotel stays, restaurant meals, and other additional living expenses while your home is being rebuilt or repaired.

How do wind/hail deductibles work?

When you file a claim for wind and hail damage, insurers may require you to pay a special wind/hail deductible. This is the amount you’re responsible for paying before your insurance will kick in on a wind or hail damage claim. 

Wind/hail deductibles are typically percentage deductibles between 1% and 5% of your home’s dwelling coverage limit. 

Here’s an example. 

Say your home is insured for $500,000 and your wind/hail deductible is 3%. That means you’re responsible for paying $15,000 before insurance will kick in for a wind damage claim.

Watch out for named storm or hurricane deductibles.

Insurers may also charge a separate named storm or hurricane deductible either in addition to or instead of a wind/hail deductible. 

Most states have rules in place that dictate what deductibles insurers are allowed to charge and the events that “trigger” them. In some states, a hurricane warning needs to be issued by the National Weather Service or National Hurricane Center in order for insurers to charge these deductibles on wind damage claims.

→ Learn more about wind/hail and hurricane deductibles

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Do I need windstorm insurance?

If you live in a coastal community in any of the following states, wind and hail may be excluded from your homeowners insurance. If that’s the case, you’ll need windstorm insurance to cover your home from coastal winds or named storms.

StateAre there separate hurricane deductibles?Does the state offer wind coverage?
AlabamaYesYes
ConnecticutYesYes (but only if you have not been able to find private coverage)
DelawareYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
District of ColumbiaYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
FloridaYes (but deductible can only be charged once per season)Yes (but only if you can't find private coverage or policy premiums are >15% higher than the state plan)
GeorgiaYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
HawaiiNo (hurricanes are usually excluded — coverage purchased separately through specialty insurers)No
LouisianaYes (as well as wind and hail deductibles)Yes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
MaineYesNo
MarylandYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
MassachusettsWind/hail deductible for any type of wind damageYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
MississippiYesYes (in George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, and Stone Counties; FAIR Plan for rest of the state)
New JerseyYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
New YorkYesYes (via C-MAP for South Shore of Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and parts of the Bronx/Westchester; FAIR Plan for rest of the state)
North CarolinaYesYes (in 18 eligible counties; FAIR Plan for rest of the state)
PennsylvaniaYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)
Rhode IslandYesYes (but only if you have not been able to find private coverage)
South CarolinaYesYes (but only if you have not been able to find private coverage; only operates in certain communities)
TexasYesYes (TWIA for 14 counties; FAIR Plan for rest of state)
VirginiaYesYes (via a FAIR Plan if you have not been able to find private coverage)

Your mortgage lender may require windstorm insurance.

If your home insurance company excludes wind and hail coverage from your policy and you have a mortgage on your house, your lender may require you to purchase windstorm insurance to cover the cost of catastrophic damage from tornados or tropical storms. Since your mortgage lender is technically a partial owner of your home until it's paid off, they want to make sure their investment is fully protected. 

How to buy windstorm insurance

You can generally buy windstorm insurance in one of three ways. 

  1. Add wind coverage as an endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy.

  2. Purchase a wind only policy through a specialized private insurer.

  3. Apply for last-resort coverage through an insurance pool administered by your state, like a Beach Plan or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan

Keep in mind that Beach Plans are usually only offered in counties specified by your state’s department of insurance. Some plans, like New York’s C-MAP, require proof that you’ve been turned down by at least three companies before they’ll insure your property — same goes for FAIR Plans in most states. [1]

However, a few coastal states offer wind coverage even if you haven’t been turned down on the voluntary market. While it’s fairly easy to qualify for windstorm insurance through state insurance programs, Beach Plans and FAIR Plans are typically more expensive than coverage through standard insurers. [2]   

How much does windstorm insurance cost?

Rates in coastal communities are generally among the highest in the country. You can expect to pay several hundreds of dollars more than $1,899, which is the national average cost of homeowners insurance according to our analysis of 2022 rate data.

You’ll also pay more in premiums if you live in states that experience frequent tornadoes, like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. 

The amount you pay for windstorm insurance is determined by several factors about your home, including its:

  • Location

  • Age

  • Construction type

  • Roof age and condition

How to reduce windstorm damage to your home

There are certain areas of your home that are more susceptible to windstorm damage than others, including your roof, windows, doors, patios, and landscaping. In order to prevent wind and debris from causing additional damage to your home, take the following steps:

  • Trim branches and trees

  • Secure outdoor furniture or anything that may act as potential debris

  • Install a disaster-proof garage door

  • Install storm shutters or put plywood over your windows and glass doors prior to a tropical storm

  • Install impact-resistant storm shingles on your roof

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Frequently asked questions

Which counties in Texas need windstorm insurance?

If you live in any of the following 14 counties, your home is at considerably high risk of catastrophic wind damage from hurricanes: Aransas, Calhoun, Chambers, Galveston, Kenedy, Matagorda, Refugio, Willacy, Brazoria, Cameron, Harris, Jefferson, Kleberg, Nueces, and San Patricio. Fortunately, residents of these counties are eligible for windstorm insurance through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).

Is windstorm insurance included in homeowners insurance?

In most of the country, yes — a standard homeowners insurance policy includes windstorm coverage along with 15 other covered perils.

But in areas where natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes are most common, insurers will often exclude wind and hail from coverage or they'll charge a separate deductible on wind damage claims. If your home insurance doesn't cover wind or hail and your house is in a high-risk area, you'll need to buy windstorm insurance to cover your home and belongings.