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Does Renters Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

Hurricane season runs in the United States from June through October. According to statistics from the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Association, we see an average of 6 hurricanes and 12 named storms during the Hurricane season. To prepare for damaging hurricanes, you need the right insurance. Renters insurance or HO-4 insurance provides optimal protection for personal property and other property inside the rental unit. This guide will focus on how renters insurance policies are applied for hurricanes and whether you’ll be covered during a major storm. We’ll also look into the types of hurricane damage that are covered by HO-4 policies.

Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage? Yes, renters insurance covers hurricane damage caused by wind, hail, lightning, and rainfall in the rented property. If your personal belongings were damaged in the hurricane, renters insurance will fund the replacements up to your policy limit. There are claim limits per item and category. If the property was damaged in the hurricane, the landlord is supposed to fix it with their insurance. The bottom line is that you’ll be covered during a Hurricane if you have renters insurance.

Things Renters Insurance (HO-4) Covers

Renters insurance covers everything that your landlord’s property insurance does not cover. Landlords are responsible for the upkeep of the property and if it’s damaged in a hurricane, they have to fix the structural damage. For instance, if a hurricane leads to a collapse or the roof leaks, the landlord has to claim their insurance policy to fix this. Renters insurance mostly exists to protect the tenant’s personal property, including everything you brought to the unit. The following are the three main levels of coverage for renters insurance:

Level 1 – Personal Items

All items inside the property that belongs to the tenant are insured up to a policy limit. This includes furniture, clothes, electronics, appliances, instruments, and other items. The only exception is high-value items. Most items are capped at $1,000 which means if you have jewelry, cash, weapons, or other expensive property you won’t be covered. You can schedule these high-value items independently by consulting your insurance agent.

Level 2 – Liability Insurance/Medical Payments

Liability insurance will pay for third parties such as guests if they injure themselves inside the place you’re renting. This will also include basic medical payment coverage. Example: If a friend slips on your balcony and injures themselves in your apartment, you can use this coverage.

Level 3 – Loss Of Use Coverage

This covers your living expenses if the property is damaged in the hurricane and has to be repaired. The insurance company will pay your accommodation, transport, bills, and other expenses for a temporary amount of time until you’re ready to move back into the property.

Note: The first and third levels of coverage (personal property and loss of use) are applicable during a hurricane. If the hurricane causes damage to your personal property in the house or apartment unit you’re renting, you’ll most likely be covered. Liability insurance won’t be needed during a hurricane but it can be if a guest is injured at your property during the hurricane. Lastly, loss of use can be applied if the property is destroyed and you can no longer live in it.

Storm Types Covered By Renters Insurance

Hurricanes can cause damage in many different ways and most will be covered but some won’t. This varies by the state because, in some states prone to flooding and hail damage, you’ll have to purchase a special rider to be insured in those events. Each company pays out based on a set of risks that they call “perils”. If those perils are listed in your policy, your items will be protected. Renters insurance policies tend to have the following named perils:

  • Hail damage
  • Wind damage
  • Rainfall damage
  • Wildfire damage
  • Weight of ice and snow damage

If you have a hurricane or a tornado underway in your area you’ll be covered under wind damage because a hurricane is essentially wind. You’ll also likely be covered for flying objects that the wind can carry to your apartment and cause damage.

Renters insurance will pay for your personal items based on a certain cash value. When you sign up for a policy, you can select the cash value you want. Most insurance companies offer Actual Cash Value (ACV) as a default and Replacement Cost as an upgrade. 

If you opt for ACV, you’ll only get paid out for the property’s current market value. Example: A guitar was bought in 2017 for $1,000 but is worth $500 in 2020. The insurer will pay you $500 because that is the market value. Consider the value of your property and insure it adequately.

Some deductibles apply for all personal property claims on renters insurance. These deductibles are equally as high as on homeowners insurance and range between $500-1,000 on average. The deductible is the amount you pay when you file a claim and the insurance company pays for the rest.

Flood Damage Is Usually Not Covered

The main exception in terms of hurricane protection is flood coverage. If you have a renters policy in a state along the Atlantic or Gulf Coast, you should purchase flood protection on top of your standard renters insurance policy. You can also purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program – NFIP. This is created by the government and helps you recover after a flood. We recommend getting on the NFIP program for all people living in high-risk zones, especially waterfront residents.

Flood insurance is not required by law in many low-risk areas around the country, but we recommend getting it. This is because all 50 states have experienced floods over the last 5 years and nearly 20% of all NFIP flood claims come from low-risk areas. The advantage of getting flood coverage as a tenant in an apartment is that you get a much lower price.

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