Q

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

A

Windstorm insurance is a type of property insurance that covers the cost if your home is damaged by wind or hail. This coverage can either be included in your homeowners insurance or purchased as a separate wind only policy.

Pat Howard 1600

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor at Policygenius specializing in property and casualty insurance. His work has been featured on Property Casualty 360, Fatherly, MarketWatch, and more.

Updated September 15, 2021|4 min read

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Homeowners insurance generally covers the cost of repairs if your home is damaged by wind or hail, but your policy may be more restricted if you live in an area at high risk of wind or hail damage. In states that experience frequent tropical storms or tornadoes, like Florida or Texas, insurers commonly exclude coverage for wind and hail, which 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, which is 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. 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 a state insurance association like the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) or a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan

What is windstorm insurance?

If you live in an area where severe windstorms are common, including the Gulf Coast or Tornado Alley, you may find that 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 a special type of property insurance that can either be added to your homeowners insurance or purchased as a separate policy. It’s intended to complement your home insurance, not replace it.

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What does windstorm insurance cover?

A typical wind only policy includes five types of coverage to protect your home, other structures on your property, belongings inside the residence, temporary living expenses, and loss of income in the event of windstorm or hail damage. 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.

  • Coverage A - Dwelling: This 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.

  • Coverage B - Other Structures: This 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 can typically be up to 30% of your dwelling coverage limit.

  • Coverage C - Personal Property: This covers your personal property, 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.

  • Coverage D - Loss of Rent: 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.

  • Coverage E - Loss of Use: 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.

If your house is damaged by a wind or hailstorm, you’ll need to file a windstorm insurance claim to be reimbursed for repairs. If the claim is accepted, your insurer will cover the damage as long as you meet your 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. If your claim is for $100,000 in property damage and you have a $5,000 policy deductible, your insurer will pay you $95,000 for repairs. 

Summary

Windstorm insurance generally only covers direct physical damage caused by wind or hail. Damage caused by wind-tossed debris is also usually covered. Water damage from rain, flooding, and damage resulting from wear and tear or neglect are typically not covered. Before paying out on a windstorm claim, your insurer will require you to pay a wind/hail deductible. Depending on where you live, you may also be charged a separate deductible on wind damage claims if the damage occurred during a hurricane or named storm.

How to buy windstorm insurance

You can generally acquire windstorm insurance in one of three ways: by adding wind coverage as an endorsement to your homeowners insurance; by purchasing a wind only policy through a specialized private insurer; or by applying for last-resort coverage through an insurance pool administered by your state, like a Beach Plan or 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]   

Do I need windstorm insurance?

If your home insurance company excludes wind and hail 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 tropical storm or tornado damage. Since your mortgage lender is technically a partial owner of the home until it's paid off, they want to make sure their investment is fully protected. 

Your lender may also require flood insurance if you live in a high-risk flood zone. Altogether, it’s possible you’ll need to have three types of coverage for your home (home, flood, and windstorm insurance) if you live in a hurricane-prone area.

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. If you’re unable to find wind coverage through a private company, look into Beach and Windstorm Plans with your state’s insurance department. 

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)

How much does windstorm insurance cost?

The amount you pay for windstorm insurance is determined by your home’s location, the year it was built, its construction type, and the condition of its roof. Rates in coastal communities are generally among the highest in the country, but you’ll also pay more in premiums if you live in states that experience frequent tornadoes, like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

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 installed on your roof

Frequently asked questions

How do wind/hail deductibles work?

In areas that are at high risk of wind or hail damage, insurers will typically charge a flat dollar amount deductible, like $1,000, for most covered perils, and a percentage deductible (usually 1% to 5% of your home’s dwelling coverage limit) for damage caused by wind or hail. 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.

Which counties in Texas do you 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 the home and belongings inside the residence.

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