If you live in a region that gets hurricanes, you'll want to be sure you have the right types of insurance.
In many coastal areas, a standard homeowners insurance policy won't be enough for hurricane damage. Here's what to know about hurricane insurance.
What does hurricane insurance cover?
The two main elements of a hurricane are wind and water. Because there isn't an insurance policy officially called "hurricane insurance," you need a combination of policies.
- A homeowners policy may cover wind damage, typically for those who don't live on or near a shoreline.
- Home insurance policies often exclude wind damage for houses on coasts that get hurricanes. Homeowners in this situation can buy wind insurance through state-run programs or special insurance "pools."
- Homeowners insurance generally covers some water damage, like rain that gets in through a roof damaged by wind.
- But hurricane water damage often comes from floods, which are not generally covered by home insurance. Instead, you may need flood insurance.
Hurricane wind damage
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.
If you have wind coverage through standard homeowners insurance, there are generally two types of deductibles. The deductible is the amount subtracted from an insurance claims check.
- Hurricane deductibles, which apply only to claims for wind damage from hurricanes.
- Windstorm or wind/hail deductibles for claims from any type of storm.
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 (III). It's a good idea to find your homeowners or windstorm insurance policy and look for specific wording about what triggers a "hurricane deductible."A standard homeowners insurance deductible is sometimes a flat-dollar amount that you choose, such as a $500 or $1,000. But hurricane insurance deductibles are often set as a percentage of your dwelling coverage. These percentages typically vary from 1% to 5%, according to the III. 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. In Florida, homeowners could have hurricane deductibles as high as 10%.
Nineteen states and Washington, D.C., have hurricane deductibles:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
Flood damage from hurricanes
Floods are often the most damaging part of a natural disaster. If your property is located in a high-risk flood area, your mortgage lender might even require that you purchase flood insurance.
There are typically two ways to buy 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 $656 in 2016, according to the III. And average flood insurance claim made through the NFIP was $62,247 in 2016.
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 sometimes 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 hurricane insurance by strengthening the 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. Here are examples.
- Roof. Use a cement-based adhesive to create a stronger bond with asphalt shingles and install hurricane clips/straps connecting the roof rafters and trusses to the side walls.
- Windows. Install impact-resistant shutters over large windows and glass doors and use a window film (also known as safety film) that will hold glass shards together and prevent sharp, broken glass from flying through the air
- Doors. Install head and foot bolts on the inactive door of a double-entry door and make sure your doors have at least three hinges and a deadbolt security lock. This provides strength against wind.
- Garage doors. Replace double garage doors with a hurricane wind-tested garage door.
Does car insurance cover hurricane damage?
Damage to your vehicle from a hurricane is generally not covered under homeowners insurance or flood insurance. A type of car insurance called comprehensive coverage covers flood damage, along with other problems such as hail, fire and theft.