Posted June 4th, 2019 by Jason Metz
If you live in a region that gets hurricanes, you’ll want to make sure you have the right combination of insurance policies to cover damage. In many coastal areas, a standard homeowners insurance policy won't help with any hurricane damage.
What is covered under hurricane insurance?
The two main elements of a hurricane are wind and water. Because there isn't one insurance policy officially called "hurricane insurance," you’ll need a combination of policies.
- Home insurance policies often exclude wind damage for houses on coasts that get hurricanes. Homeowners in this situation can buy windstorm insurance through state-run programs or special insurance "pools." (See links below.)
- For people who don’t live along a hurricane-prone shoreline, a standard homeowners insurance policy usually covers wind damage if a hurricane moves inland.
- Hurricane water damage often comes from floods, which are not generally covered by home insurance. Instead, you need flood insurance.
- Other water damage from storms is often covered by home insurance, like rain that gets in through a roof damaged by wind.
Buying wind insurance
In some coastal areas, homeowners are unable to buy coverage for wind damage because of their high chance of making claims. They often have to turn to "last resort" coverage.
- In Florida, Citizens Property Insurance Corp. offers wind-only insurance and also broader policies to homeowners who can't buy it elsewhere.
- In coastal Louisiana, residents who can't buy wind insurance on the standard market can turn to Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance.
- The North Carolina, the Coastal Property Insurance Pool offers windstorm, hail and other coverage for properties on the beach or coast.
- In South Carolina, the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association provides insurance to homeowners on the beach who can't get it elsewhere.
- In certain coastal areas of Texas, homeowners who are denied wind coverage can buy it through the Texas Windstorm Association.
What is a normal hurricane deductible?
A deductible is the amount subtracted from an insurance claims check.
Hurricane insurance deductibles are often set as a percentage of the dwelling coverage. These percentages typically vary from 1% to 5%, according to the Insurance Information Institute. A common hurricane deductible is 2%. In Florida, homeowners could have hurricane deductibles as high as 10%.
For example, if your house is insured for $250,000 and you have a 5% deductible, your insurance check will be reduced by $12,500.
Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have hurricane deductibles:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Deductibles on standard home insurance
If you have wind coverage through a standard homeowners insurance policy, there are generally two types of deductibles.
- Hurricane deductibles apply only to claims for wind damage from hurricanes.
- Windstorm or wind/hail deductibles apply to claims from any other type of storm with wind or hail.
When does a hurricane deductible apply?
To decide whether a storm is an actual "hurricane," your insurance company likely relies on the National Weather Service to officially "name" a storm (such as "Hurricane Harvey"), declare a watch or warning, or define a storm's intensity by its wind speed, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Buying flood insurance
Floods are often the most damaging part of a hurricane. If your property is located in a high-risk flood area, your mortgage lender might even require that you purchase flood insurance.
There are two sources for flood insurance:
- Through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a program operated by the federal government.
- With private flood insurance.
The majority of homeowners in the United States who have flood insurance purchase their policies through the NFIP. It is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The average cost of an NFIP flood policy was $707 in 2017 and the average amount of flood coverage was $252,261, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Flood insurance rates can be higher depending on your property's risk level as well as the amount of coverage and deductible you choose.
Private flood insurance is often available as an alternative to NFIP insurance. In some cases, private insurers may be able to offer cheaper rates. It's a good idea to compare quotes from both the NFIP and private insurers if you have the option.
Save on insurance by strengthening a house
If you take steps to retrofit and reinforce your home from hurricane damage, you may get an insurance discount. There are four critical areas to retrofit and reinforce, according to the Institute of Business & Home Safety: Roof, windows, doors and garage doors.
Does car insurance cover hurricane damage to vehicles?
Damage to a vehicle from a hurricane is generally not covered under homeowners insurance or flood insurance. A type of car insurance called comprehensive insurance covers flood damage, along with other problems such as hail, fire and theft.
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