Hurricanes are an increasingly worrisome threat for many homeowners, especially with the rising impact of climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures are likely to increase the severity of storm wind speeds and rising sea levels have increased the vulnerability of coastal areas to coastal flooding caused by hurricanes.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, hurricanes have caused the most deaths and destruction of all recorded weather disasters in U.S. Coastal areas. These events result in significant property damage and flooding, especially in Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and many of the Southern states. Damage is caused through the combined effects of extreme flood and wind conditions.
Insuring Against Hurricanes
Unfortunately, there is no single type of insurance that covers hurricane damage or falls under the name “hurricane insurance.” This can make it difficult to address all of the concerns that accompany home ownership in a hurricane-prone area. Understanding the details of what insurance is offered in your area and what types of damage your homeowners policy covers is the key to protecting your home. Generally, two types of insurance are needed to ensure you get the best protection: flood insurance and windstorm insurance.
Storm surge flooding resulting from powerful hurricane winds can raise water levels and cause severe flooding. But no type of flood damage, including destruction caused by over-saturated ground or overflowing bodies of water, is covered by a standard homeowners policy. “Sudden and accidental” water damage is covered in the case of a burst pipe or other isolated issue, but not the type of widespread damage that a hurricane can unleash. To get coverage, you will need to purchase a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Flood insurance is a separate policy which can cover your house, its contents, or both. To obtain flood insurance, it is best to contact your local insurance agent. Be advised that flood insurance policies, such as those offered through the NFIP, are typically subject to a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect and do not cover prior damage.
Coverage of windstorm damage varies by state but is typically included in standard homeowners insurance. Still, it is important to check exactly how your insurance applies. Insurance in some states can cover all types of wind damage, but others including Florida require that a hurricane be declared by the National Weather Service. Homeowners who live in high-risk areas—or otherwise find it difficult to obtain windstorm insurance—should consider government-offered options. Texas and Florida are two of the states with available government coverage programs.
In the case that your policy covers wind damage, some insurers and 19 states plus D.C. require a hurricane or windstorm deductible. An insurance deductible is the amount subtracted from your insurer’s payout. According to the Insurance information Institute, the windstorm deductible can be significantly higher than your standard deductible. It is a good idea to review your amount of coverage and make necessary adjustments with the potential costs of repairing your home in mind.
Protecting your home from hurricanes starts when you assess your risk. Before you invest, get a free, instant risk assessment from Climate Check.