Updated June 4, 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes
The best time for property owners in Florida to look at their insurance policy is before hurricane season starts. But if you’re already in the middle of hurricane season, which goes from June 1 to November 30, it’s not too late to review your hurricane deductible in Florida.
If you’re in a high-risk coastal area, you might wonder what your insurance company covers. The good news is that most property insurance covers hurricanes. However, you’ll generally pay a higher deductible for hurricane damage.
To better understand the hurricane deductible in Florida and when it applies, here’s a guide for homeowners.
And if you’re looking for homeowners insurance—whether it’s for a new home or to update existing insurance coverage— Insurify is your one-stop shop to compare home insurance quotes.
A hurricane deductible is a portion you pay for damages before the insurance company kicks in. If disaster strikes your home, the insurer subtracts—or deducts—the amount of your deductible from your claim payment.
It’s similar to a standard home insurance deductible. However, a hurricane deductible is a separate, often higher, amount, especially in coastal states like Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Connecticut, Texas, and the District of Columbia because of the increased risk of hurricane-related damage.
How much your insurance will pay for damage depends on the details in your policy. Your declarations page will have a summary of coverage and deductible amounts, but it’s best to review the nitty-gritty policy details to know for sure.
According to Florida law, insurance companies must offer four options for a hurricane deductible:
If you opt for a percentage deductible, it’s a portion of your dwelling coverage, Coverage A, which is the home’s total insured value. For instance, a 10 percent deductible on a $280,000 home would be $28,000.
However, insurance companies don’t always apply Florida’s hurricane deductible for high-wind damage.
The hurricane deductible only applies when the National Hurricane Center (NHC), a branch of the National Weather Service, names a hurricane. Once the NHC issues a hurricane watch or warning, insurance companies consider wind damage to be hurricane-related until the watch or warning expires.
According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, insurance companies divide deductibles into two parts: hurricane damage and damage from all other perils.
Your hurricane deductible applies only if your home has hurricane damage. And the insurance company won’t consider it hurricane damage unless an NHC-named storm causes it. If the loss occurs during a hurricane watch or warning issued by the NHC, your hurricane deductible will apply.
A separate deductible will apply for all other covered perils, such as fire, theft, lightning, windstorm damage, and hail.
It’s an important distinction because the hurricane deductible is generally higher than what you’ll pay if the damage is from another peril.
Like hurricane deductibles, your deductible for other perils can be a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of the home’s insured value. Your insurer will subtract your deductible from the amount of money they pay if you file a claim.
The deductible you choose for your homeowners insurance policy is an important decision. It determines the dollar amount you’re responsible for if you file a claim and influences your policy premiums. Generally, the lower your deductible, the higher your premium.
Because hurricane deductibles can be higher than what you’d pay for other perils, it’s even more important to choose one that works for you.
The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that average percentage deductibles for hurricane loss range from 1 to 5 percent of the home’s insured value.
The amount you choose depends on what your insurance company offers and what your financial situation is. If you don’t mind paying higher insurance premiums, a low deductible can be a good choice.
Some homeowners would rather save money on their premiums. In that case, choosing a higher deductible makes sense. Just remember that higher deductibles make you responsible for a higher dollar amount if you file a claim.
Policyholders in high-risk coastal areas could see more than one hurricane a season. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast when it made landfall, but it was just one of 14 storms during that season.
That raises the question of whether insurers can apply the hurricane deductible multiple times if there are numerous hurricanes during one season.
Standard homeowners insurance policies can require you to pay a deductible for each claim you file. You could be responsible for the deductible multiple times in a single year. For instance, if a tree falls and damages your roof in the spring and heavy winds cause roof and window damage in the fall, your insurance company expects you to cover the deductible each time.
But that’s not the case with hurricane deductibles in Florida. Insurers in Florida apply a hurricane deductible amount only once per season, according to the III.
That’s good news if you’re in a high-risk part of Florida, considering your hurricane deductible could be as much as 10 percent of your policy’s dwelling coverage—which is a big chunk of change.
Hurricanes bring water and wind, which can be two major problems for homeowners. You don’t need separate hurricane insurance because many homeowners policies cover hurricane damage.
Even the best home insurance companies don’t cover floods, even if the damage is from a hurricane storm surge. However, insurers generally cover wind-related damage from a hurricane. Your standard homeowners policy typically covers losses such as:
Roof deck and shingles
Gutters and siding
Keep in mind that 90 percent of natural disasters include flooding, and it’s especially common with hurricanes. If you’re in an area prone to hurricanes, you may need a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home from flood-related hurricane losses.
Review your insurance policy to understand what hurricane-related damage it covers. Generally, your policy will cover hurricane damage caused by wind. For flooding, you’ll need to purchase flood insurance because standard homeowners policies don’t cover flood damage, even if it’s from a hurricane storm surge. Talk to your insurance agent to clarify any parts of your policy you may not understand. And if you haven’t updated your dwelling coverage in a while, consider increasing your dwelling coverage to make sure you have the coverage you need.
Your hurricane deductible in Florida can be higher than for other perils. All insurers in Florida must offer a number of deductible levels. You can modify your policy to include a lower hurricane deductible, but it could result in higher premium prices. Florida law also requires insurers to offer discounts or credits for mitigation steps you take to protect your home. Check your policy or call your insurance agent to determine the mitigation steps that could save you money on home insurance.
Hurricane deductibles in Florida do not apply to tropical storm damage. For the hurricane deductible to kick in, the loss must be from an NHC-named hurricane. Tropical storms can cause substantial damage due to having wind speeds up to 73 mph before reaching hurricane status. However, until the NHC officially names the hurricane, your standard deductible will apply.
Insurers divide your policy into two separate deductibles: a hurricane deductible and a deductible for other perils. Your hurricane deductible in Florida can be significantly higher than your standard deductible amount. To lower your deductible, contact your insurance company. You could also use insurance comparison sites to lower your premiums overall.
It’s important to know that standard homeowners insurance only covers hurricane damage from high winds. Because flooding often accompanies the storms, consider adding a separate flood insurance policy to make sure you have enough coverage the next time a hurricane is heading your way.
Use Insurify to compare home insurance premiums for your property in Florida.
Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.Learn More