Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

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Written by
Cara Carlone
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Most homeowners insurance will cover hurricane damage caused by rain and wind. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, and would like to learn more about how your home insurance works for hurricane coverage, keep reading.

With over twenty years of helping consumers acquire a better understanding of their home insurance, I can help you expand your knowledge about hurricanes and insurance coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s a good idea to get hurricane coverage before the season starts if you want to be sure you have coverage. There are usually moratoriums, or restrictions, for either purchasing or adjusting insurance coverage when storm warnings have been issued.

  • A homeowners insurance policy will not cover all aspects of hurricane damage.

  • Flood insurance will  cover storms related to hurricanes, surges and flood damage.

  • You might have a separate insurance deductible for hurricanes, which is typically higher than your standard deductible.

Does Home Insurance Provide Coverage For Hurricane Damage?

Home insurance ordinarily provides coverage for hurricane damage for wind and rain. However, it’s important to note that this isn’t always true.

In some areas of the country, such as in Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, wind and rain isn’t covered. Besides these states, there are 19 others where damage from windstorms may be available as a separate policy.

This varies between insurance providers, so always go over your policy carefully and read the fine print to be sure what is covered and what isn’t.

The thing about insurance coverage and hurricane damage is that there are certain facets of damage that may or may not be covered. This can be tricky to navigate and it’s something you need to know and understand since if something isn’t covered in your standard home insurance policy, you will need to obtain coverage elsewhere.

What Types Of Hurricane Damage Are Covered By Your Home Insurance?

Your standard homeowners insurance policy will typically provide coverage for the following types of hurricane damage:

  • Wind damage
  • Rain damage
  • Damage to the structure of your home
  • Damage to the interior including furniture and belongings
  • Other Structures on your property such as sheds or fences
  • Additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable after the hurricane

Note: Some homeowner insurance policies have a separate deductible for hurricanes or wind storms. The deductible might be a percentage of your dwelling amount, so check your deductible before you file a claim. You don’t want to file a claim if your deductible is going to be more than the amount of the damage.

While homeowners insurance will normally cover damage from rain, it’s important to note that it will not cover any sort of flooding. So, if the rain water comes in through a window broken by a hurricane, or through a section of roof that was blown off; your insurance will cover it.

But, if the rain comes into your house from a storm surge of water, it will not be covered.

What Losses From Hurricane Damage Are Covered By Home Insurance?

Losses from hurricane damage are normally covered by your home insurance policy. Below are some covered losses that you might incur due to a hurricane:

  • Damage to the structure of your home
  • Roof damage
  • Interior damage due to high winds
  • Interior damage from rain coming in a broken window, missing wall or damaged roof
  • Electrical system damage
  • Essential system damage such as your air conditioning and heating unit
  • Plumbing damage
  • Vandalism following a hurricane
  • Theft
  • Foundation damage
  • Basement damage
  • Other structures such as fences or sheds
  • Fallen trees
  • Debris removal
  • Personal belongings

In addition, if your home is uninhabitable after a hurricane, your insurance policy will typically cover temporary housing, clothing, toiletries, and meals.

When Is Hurricane Damage Not Covered By Home Insurance?

First of all, there is no such thing as hurricane insurance. If you want to have adequate coverage for hurricane damage, it’s going to take more than one policy in most cases. For example, if you live in a coastal area where hurricanes are prevalent, your home insurance might not pay for wind damage. If not, you’ll need to purchase separate coverage for wind damage from a hurricane.

Also, many policies in these areas don’t cover what is called “wind driven rain.” Wind driven rain is what accompanies a hurricane. So, if your policy excludes it, you won’t have adequate protection for damages from a hurricane.

Another point of possible contention is the damage from water backup that resulted from a hurricane. This applies to sewer backup, as well, if the insurer deems it due to a hurricane.

Since few home insurance policies cover floods, and this is especially true in hurricane vulnerable parts of the country, you’ll need to purchase flood insurance to make sure you have adequate protection from hurricane damage.

As a rule, last minute hurricane coverage additions are not honored by an insurer. For instance, you hear on the radio that a hurricane is approaching your area and hustle down to your local insurance office to add more coverage.

A standard flood insurance policy, for example, doesn’t take effect for 30 days. Most insurers won’t allow you to adjust your coverage when a hurricane is close to the coastline. Some insurers refer to “the box.” This box is a 16,000 square mile area that surrounds the Southeastern United States. If a hurricane enters the box, you cannot adjust coverage or purchase a new policy.

What Should You Do If There Is Hurricane Damage To Your Home?

If your home has been damaged by a hurricane, always put safety first. Wait until authorities have said it’s okay to return to your home. Once they’ve given the go-ahead, you may return to your home to assess the damage, but proceed with caution.

There might be exposed bare electrical wiring or utility lines, as well as unsafe utility poles that have been partially pulled from the ground by the hurricane. If you see anything like this, report it immediately to your local utility department.

If you do go inside, be very cautious and keep an eye out for snakes, animals or even insects that might have gone into your home looking for higher or safer ground during flooding and high winds.

You need to document the damage as soon as possible. Take photos, make videos if possible, take plenty of notes about any and all damage. You will need this documentation when you file a claim with your insurer.

Contact your home insurance provider and arrange to have an adjuster sent out to assess the damage to your home and other structures, if applicable. If your home is uninhabitable from the hurricane, ask for immediate funds for housing, meals and more.

Find out what kind of federal or state government aid is available, and apply for it.

Are There Ways You Can Avoid Hurricane Damage?

Yes, there are ways you can be proactive and avoid hurricane damage, at least to an extent. Here are a some steps to take that will help minimize the hurricane damage to your home and property:

  • Reinforce your roof to help avoid hurricane damage. There are various ways to do this, including concrete slabs, gable end bracing, impact resistant shingles, metal roofing, installing clips or tie-downs to strengthen the roof-to-foundation or roof-to-wall connections.
  • Use special fabric panels to cover doors and windows. Special storm strength fabric panels will cushion these openings, helping to repel flying debris and wind driven rain.
  • Use plywood panels to board up windows before a storm or hurricane. This is one of the preferred ways to avoid hurricane damage. Before the storm is predicted to strike, 5/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood sheets to your windows. This is quite effective in reducing the amount of damage from flying debris, wind, rain and hail.
  • Secure outdoor items such as mailboxes and heavier objects by anchoring them to the ground if possible
  • Clear outside debris so that it’s away from your home. Trim large sized trees and shrubs away from your house. Move any outdoor furniture, propane tanks, grills, and building materials indoors or under a secure shelter.

If you reside in an area such as a coastline where hurricanes come along fairly often, it would be wise to be prepared instead of waiting until the hurricane is headed your way.

When Should You File A Home Insurance Claim For Hurricane Damage?

This can be a difficult question in the best of cases, but especially when it comes to hurricane damage. Why? Because there are some unusual factors involved with filing a claim relating to hurricane damage.

For example, hurricane deductibles are not typically set at a certain amount, but a percentage of your dwelling coverage usually between one and ten percent. If your home is worth $150,000 and your hurricane deductible is five percent, you’d be responsible for as much as $7,500 of the damage. This is far and away more than the average deductible on the majority of homeowners policies.

Still, even though it comes with a high price tag, at least it gives you a good chance of recovering from a hurricane.

If your home and property has been hard hit by a hurricane and basically wiped out, that deductible, while higher than usual, won’t be a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost of repairing or rebuilding.

If, however, you got out lucky with only minimal damage, it might not be worth your while to file a claim, especially when you factor in the high cost of your deductible. Also, an insurer will almost always raise premiums after a claim has been filed, which will be an ongoing increase. It might not be a wise move if your home only has light damage.

How To File A Home Insurance Claim For Hurricane Damage?

Filing a claim for hurricane damage can be a bit more involved than a typical claim simply because you might have three or more different sorts of coverage:

  • Home insurance
  • Wind and Rain insurance
  • Flood insurance

Note: Some insurers have separate deductibles for wind or hurricane losses. These  deductibles may be a percentage of your home’s dwelling limit and not a flat amount. Always look at the correct deductible before deciding whether the damage is more than that amount.

Contact your home insurance provider promptly about the situation.

Take good photos and/or videos of the hurricane damage. Make comprehensive notes about anything pertaining to the hurricane damage, along with any and all damage done to your home and property, inside and out.

Your insurance provider will send out a claims adjuster to assess the hurricane  damage to your home. If at all possible, you should be there to meet with the adjuster and turn over copies of all documentation at this time. Be sure to keep copies for yourself.

Once your insurer has given approval, go ahead and get estimates from licensed contractors for repair or replacement of your home and property that was damaged by the hurricane, and submit the estimates to your insurance company.

When the estimates as well as the contractors have been approved by your home insurance provider, the work can begin. Be sure to keep all estimates and receipts.

You should be aware that your deductible will need to be paid before the insurance provider will pay a claim.

Are There Additional Types Of Coverage Available For Hurricane Damage?

Yes, there are, and depending on a couple of things, you will probably need to look into them. Different parts of the United States have different insurance coverages and deductibles for hurricane damage.

You should check your policy and determine which kind, if any, additional coverage you need to be adequately protected from hurricane damage losses.

Extended Replacement Cost: This coverage ensures that if the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home exceeds your home insurance policy limits, you will have additional funds to help cover it.

Hurricane or Windstorm Endorsement: Some insurance carriers offer an endorsement specifically for windstorm or hurricane damage. It provides additional coverage that exceeds your policy limits for wind related damage.

Loss of Use: This coverage will reimburse you for additional living expenses in the event that your home is uninhabitable because of damage from a hurricane. Such expenses as housing, transportation, clothing, personal toiletries and meals are covered while you’re unable to stay in your home.

Flood Insurance: As I mentioned earlier, homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. To protect your home from flooding caused by a hurricane, you might think about buying a separate flood insurance policy through the NFIP–National Flood Insurance Program–or a private insurance carrier.

Business Interruption: If you operate a business or work from your home, business interruption coverage might be of great benefit to you. It will help replace your lost income and also covers other expenses if your business or work is interrupted because of hurricane damage.



Can you purchase separate insurance coverage for hurricane damage?

Yes. In fact, to be fully covered for hurricane damage, you probably should explore additional coverage.

Will a standard homeowners insurance policy cover hurricane damage?

Not in most cases, no. For instance, flooding is very rarely part of a standard homeowners policy, and flooding is a big part of hurricane damage.


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