Property owners can face serious risks when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms. From blustering, high-speed winds to record-smashing rainfall and flooding, you have to be prepared for the worst case scenario during severe weather. If you’re a homeowner, you definitely want to insure your home against damage – but what exactly is covered under your homeowners policy?
Hurricane damage is usually not covered by homeowners insurance. Generally speaking, a natural disaster will not be covered by a basic homeowners policy and you will need to supplement your coverage to protect yourself against storm damage. Supplementing your coverage is not always necessary, but may be a good idea if you live in coastal regions or areas prone to severe weather.
Damage due to hurricanes and tropical storms may go beyond the limits of your standard homeowners policy – be sure to check your specific policy information and ask your agent if additional coverage would be beneficial.
Homeowners insurance helps to protect your home from:
- Damage from fire, theft, or vandalism
- Hail and falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow or sleet
- Loss of (or damage to) personal property
- Personal injury liability
Unfortunately, it doesn’t often cover damage from natural disasters such as:
- Volcanic eruptions
- Wind and floods (at the same time)
In addition, you may need a home warranty for the following:
- Replacement of essential appliances
- Plumbing repair
- Electrical repair
- Outdoor structures, like pools, hot tubs and sheds
You can read more about hurricanes and insurance from the Insurance Information Institute.
Flood damage can get expensive. Even an inch of water on your flooring can do irrevocable damage and make your home uninhabitable in a matter of minutes. Although the likelihood of flooding does depend in part on your home’s location, it’s important to remember that flooding can happen anywhere.
According to the NOAA, there are fourteen states that are estimated to accumulate $1 billion worth of property damage within the next decade or so from flooding. You may be required to purchase additional flood insurance if you live in any of the following states (in no particular order): Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.
If you’re at risk for flooding during hurricane season – you’ll want to get flood insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Once you secure a policy with an insurer participating in NFIP, you’ll be subject to a 30-day wait period by the U.S. government until the coverage begins. Coverage doesn’t just roll over either. You need to be proactive and renew at the end of your policy period.
- Learn the ins and outs of flood insurance and where to buy it
- Install hurricane shutters (which might also yield wind mitigation discounts)
- Talk to insurance agents to figure out what coverage you need to protect your home and everything in it
- Shop around for quotes
It depends. If a tree falls in your yard as a result of high-speed winds, lightning strike, or a severe storm and damages your home, garage, or fence, or those of your neighbors, your insurance company will usually pay for the damages and removal of the tree.
If that same falling tree doesn’t cause any damage when it falls in your yard, though, you’ll probably have to bear the cost of removing it yourself. Any trees that fall into the street will likely be the city’s responsibility.
In most cases, yes. If your roof is damaged (or missing) after an intense storm and rain reaches the interior of your home, most homeowners insurance policies will cover the damage.
Your homeowners insurance policy will typically not cover damage from a storm surge – an unusual rise in water levels caused by a storm. A better route for protection from hurricane-induced storm surge damage is with flood insurance.