Windstorm insurance is additional insurance that can be added to a standard home insurance policy if your insurer has excluded it for any number of reasons. It is insurance that can be purchased separately as a standalone policy as well. Windstorm insurance can be important coverage for a homeowner to consider when living in a high-risk area for wind-related damage, whether it be an average windstorm, tornado, tropical storm, or hurricane.
- Wind and hail damage is a peril that is normally included in a standard home insurance policy, but in the high-risk wind and hail damage areas, insurers may exclude it and windstorm insurance would have to be added on or purchased separately to be covered.
- While windstorm insurance may be difficult to find in high-risk areas, the homeowner can typically find coverage as a last resort through a specialized insurer or the state’s FAIR plan.
- Wind and hail insurance coverage added onto a policy as an endorsement or as a separate policy typically contains a deductible that is separate from the standard home insurance policy and is applicable when damage caused to the home is due to wind or hail.
What is windstorm insurance?
In most cases, wind and hail are two perils that are included in a standard homeowners insurance policy. Unfortunately though, in some areas of the country where wind and hail are quite common, insurers will exclude these perils from their standard coverage. This is where windstorm insurance comes in. Sometimes insurers in high-risk and coastal areas will provide the option for a homeowner to add on wind and hail coverage to the standard home insurance policy as an endorsement or rider and an additional fee. This add-on coverage will also typically include a separate deductible for wind and hail damage specifically, which we will discuss later.
The other option that may be available to a homeowner is to purchase a standalone windstorm insurance policy. In some cases, the homeowners insurance company that they have their standard home insurance policy through will offer standalone coverage. If it is not available, there may be the option of going through a specialized insurer in wind and hail damage and if that is not available the last option for the homeowner is to turn to their state’s FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) plan. This state-by-state program offers coverage to homeowners in the most extreme circumstances who have not been able to find coverage elsewhere.
Also read: California FAIR Plan
What does windstorm insurance cover?
Windstorm insurance works similar to a standard home insurance policy in that there is dwelling, other structures, personal property, and loss of use/rent coverage under the policy. Normally, dwelling coverage, the protection of the home, is on a replacement cost basis and other structures coverage, which is protection of all detached structures on the property, is set at 30% of the dwelling limit. Personal property coverage will cover the homeowners belongings possibly up to as much as 70% of the dwelling coverage limit. Finally, the loss of use/rent will provide coverage to the homeowner for additional expenses incurred due to wind or hail damage for up to one year or until the damages are repairs, whichever comes first.
Windstorm insurance will cover the homeowner for wind and hail-related damage that may come from a weather event such as a tornado, hurricane, tropical storm, or something of that nature.
How does a windstorm deductible work?
Windstorm insurance policies or endorsements typically have separate deductibles written into the coverage, meaning that when damage occurs to the property by wind or hail, this separate deductible will then kick in. Typically, this deductible is higher than the deductible under the standard home insurance policy.
There are two ways in which a windstorm deductible can work. The first and rarer way is via a flat dollar amount deductible. When this is the case, the deductible normally ranges from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the policy. The second and far more common way is via a percentage of the dwelling coverage limit. This percentage usually ranges from 1 to 5% of the dwelling maximum limit. An example is, say the homeowner’s dwelling coverage limit is $250,000 and their windstorm insurance deductible is 5%. In this case, the homeowner would need to pay a deductible of $12,500 before the insurance company will provide protection in the event of a covered claim.
Even within a windstorm insurance policy, there may be separate deductibles. Some windstorm policies have a few different deductibles that will kick in at different times depending on the type of wind damage. There may be a deductible such as a named storm or hurricane deductible. This deductible kicks in when a storm receives a name and a warning is issued by the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center. The policy may even break out a separate deductible for a tropical storm versus a hurricane. If these separate deductibles are in place, then there will also be a deductible for a wind or hail storm that causes damage but does not reach the level of a tropical storm or hurricane. Typically, this deductible is the lowest and the hurricane deductible is the highest.
It is important for a homeowner to note just how much their windstorm insurance deductible is and if there are different deductibles for different levels of storms as the cost to the policy owner could vary dramatically depending on the type of storm.
Is windstorm insurance required?
Windstorm insurance, just like standard home insurance, is not required by law, but can be required by a mortgage lender in order to receive a loan. As mentioned before, wind and hail coverage is normally included in standard home insurance policy, so this is not an issue, but in areas where wind and hail damage is excluded, some mortgage lenders may require you to purchase windstorm insurance in some form in order to receive the loan.
What is the cost of windstorm insurance?
In most wind-damage-prone states, the cost of windstorm insurance can be significant, even surpassing the cost of a standard homeowners policy. While standard home insurance typically costs around $1,900 per year on average, windstorm insurance can add anywhere from a few hundred more dollars a year to a few thousand more dollars a year to the homeowner. Windstorm insurance is one of the most expensive additional coverages one can purchase, but wind and hail are also some of the most common causes of damage around the country as well as some of the most costly to repair. The cost of windstorm insurance is not only depends on the location of the home, but the age, type of construction, and roof age and condition as well.
If you are a homeowner in an area where wind damage is excluded due to its frequent and severe nature of it, you should consider standalone windstorm insurance and shop around for various options as it could be well worth your while. You also may be able to drive your policy premium lower by having a wind mitigation inspection completed on the home and then passing that inspection.
Preventative measures to reduce wind damage
Even if one has windstorm insurance, it is still prudent to take preventative measures to reduce the damage that may occur from a windstorm. Some steps a homeowner can take to reduce damage are:
- Trim back branches and trees around the house.
- Anchor or secure outdoor furniture or anything around the house that may become flying debris
- Install storm shutters or put plywood or some other cover over windows and any glass surrounding the house.
- Install heavy-duty shingles on the roof that are meant to withstand high winds.
Filing a windstorm insurance claim
When your home does become damaged by a major wind or hail weather event, there are some steps you should take to ensure a successful claim:
- Document damage as soon as possible and as thoroughly as possible.
- Prevent any further damage from occurring within the reason.
- Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and provide them with all the necessary information they need to begin the claims process on their end.
- Make a list of personal belongings that were damaged or destroyed by the storm.
- Keep receipts of any loss of use or additional living expenses that may occur as a result of not being able to live in the home after damage occurs.
Windstorm insurance is normally included in a home insurance policy unless the home is located in a high-risk windstorm area. In this case, the homeowner can potentially add windstorm coverage to the policy or purchase a standalone windstorm insurance policy to be covered for this peril. Windstorm insurance policies and add-ons come with their own deductibles which are usually a percentage of the dwelling coverage limit and are typically higher than that of the standard home insurance policy. Severe windstorm such as tornadoes and hurricanes somewhat common and can create devastating impact, so make sure you as a homeowner have the protection you want and need for this peril.