Your home is more than four walls. It’s where you keep your memories and all your “stuff.” Because it’s probably your most valuable investment, you want to protect it with homeowners insurance.

But there’s one problem: even the best homeowners insurance won’t pay for every kind of hurricane damage.  

Hurricane season starts as early as May 15 and goes through November 30. According to the National Hurricane Center, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina are the top five states with the most hurricanes. You could see severe damage, including falling trees, flying branches, severe rainfall, and flooding risks. 

Before this weather disaster comes knocking on your door, learn what hurricane insurance covers and how to insure your home to prepare for hurricane season.

What Is Hurricane Insurance?

Before we dive into what hurricane insurance is, let’s talk about what it isn’t. Hurricane insurance doesn’t actually exist. You can’t buy a single policy that protects against hurricane damage

To cover hurricane damage, you need to buy a variety of policies. That’s why you may hear people talk about getting a “hurricane package.” 

It’s a collection of homeowners, windstorm, and flood insurance. When combined, the policies protect against the different types of damage a hurricane can cause. 

  • Homeowners insurance covers damages to your home, contents (like furniture and jewelry), and land from threats like fire, smoke, hail, vandalism, and theft.
  • Flood insurance protects your home from flooding caused by a flood. This type of insurance can be an add-on to your homeowners or renters policy or a separate policy that you buy on the open market.
  • Windstorm insurance is a separate policy you can buy from a private insurer or add to your homeowner’s policy. It covers hailstorms and wind damage

What your policy covers can vary by policy type, coverage limits, and exclusions. Read your insurance policy carefully, and check with your insurance company if you have any questions or concerns.

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What Does Hurricane Insurance Cover?

Hurricanes and tropical storms are natural disasters responsible for many types of threats to your home and personal belongings. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover all possible types of damage. 

You need the right combination of insurance policies to cover common hurricane hazards, such as storm surge, heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds, and tornadoes.

Storm Surges

A storm surge is when the water rises substantially because of a storm’s winds. In some cases, the water can reach 20 feet or more above normal. A storm surge can also cover hundreds of miles of coastline.

As you can imagine, storm surges can cause significant destruction. Unfortunately, a typical homeowners insurance policy does not cover storm surges.

Adding a flood insurance policy to your collection of hurricane insurance products can protect against storm surge

If you already have homeowners insurance, you may have the option to add flood insurance as an endorsement. Stand-alone policies are also available from private insurers and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Heavy Rains and Flood

Heavy rains can quickly lead to flooding when a hurricane hits. A few inches of water can cause a flood. However, you’ll see at least six to 12 inches of rainfall during a typical hurricane.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), homeowners and renters insurance does not cover destruction caused by flooding. Therefore, you need a flood insurance policy to cover water damage from flooding.

Remember that flood insurance isn’t the same as a homeowners policy or renters insurance. It has its own policy and requires a separate application. You can buy a flood policy from your property insurance company or directly from an NFIP participating agent.

Sewer Backup

There are different types of sewer backups you may experience as a homeowner. Aging sewer systems, combined pipelines, and tree roots are common sources of trouble. A water backup coverage endorsement from your homeowners insurance company usually covers those common causes.

However, floodwaters can enter a sewer system as a hurricane passes through the area. A homeowners policy won’t cover sewer backup caused by flooding, even if you have a water backup endorsement.

Like with storm surges and heavy rains, flood insurance can protect you from this hurricane hazard. 

Water from a sewer backup can lead to thousands of dollars in damage to floors, electrical systems, walls, furniture, and other items. Flood insurance can be a smart investment, especially if you’re in a flood zone or a coastal area, such as Mississippi, Alabama, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.

High Winds

Hurricane-force winds reach 74 miles per hour or more. They can wreak havoc as they break windows, rip off roofing material and siding, and destroy homes.

Fortunately, a standard homeowners insurance policy typically covers windstorm damage. Your policy may cover hail, fallen trees, and wind-driven rain that gets inside your home when a wall or roof is damaged by wind.

A word of caution if you live in a high-risk area: your insurer may require you to buy separate windstorm insurance

For instance, some policies in coastal states don’t include windstorm damage. For instance, homeowners may need separate windstorm coverage in Florida. Finding policy options through traditional insurance providers can be difficult in some areas. Citizens Property Insurance Corporation is a nonprofit government agency. It provides coverage as a last resort, including wind-only policies in some areas.

Tornadoes

As if the damage from a hurricane wasn’t enough, the storms can also cause tornadoes. But there is good news: most standard homeowners insurance cover tornadoes.

That’s because insurance companies generally classify tornadoes as windstorms, and windstorm coverage is usually part of a home insurance policy.

There are a few exceptions. So review your policy, and check with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right coverage in place.

Additional Living Expenses

If you can’t live in your home due to damage or destruction, your policy may include coverage for additional living expenses (ALE). 

Also called loss of use, this can pay for temporary housing, meals, and other costs while your home is being rebuilt.

But there’s a catch: homeowners insurance provides ALE only for covered losses. Because a typical policy doesn’t cover flooding, it won’t pay if flooding is the reason your home is uninhabitable.

What It Doesn’t Cover

Hurricane insurance covers many threats, from flooding and storm surges to high winds. But it doesn’t cover everything. 

If you’re relying solely on homeowners insurance, your coverage typically won’t include:

  • Flooding
  • Storm surge
  • Sewer backup
  • General wear and tear

Adding flood protection increases your coverage. But flood insurance coverage generally excludes:

  • Car or vehicle damage
  • Additional living expenses
  • Any damage not directly caused by a flood

Make sure you understand the limitations of your hurricane insurance before disaster strikes.

Hurricane Insurance for Renters

Also called “tenants insurance,” renters insurance covers your possessions against many of the same risks as homeowners insurance

But it doesn’t cover flood damage from hurricanes. Fortunately, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), renters can buy flood insurance. 

If you’re renting your living space, add flood insurance for better hurricane protection for your personal belongings. 

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Hurricane Insurance Coverage – FAQs

Is flooding from hurricanes covered by insurance?

A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover damage or destruction caused by flooding, even if it’s from a hurricane. Buy a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and belongings from flood damage.

Can I get last-minute hurricane insurance?

Many insurers have a waiting period between the time you buy your policy and the time it takes effect. Homeowners insurance doesn’t usually have a waiting period. But you may have to wait up to 30 days after buying a flood insurance policy for the coverage to be active.

What happens if a hurricane destroys my home?

If a hurricane destroys your home or property, contact your insurance company to file an insurance claim. An agent will walk you through your policy to determine the coverage and insurance deductible you have in place.

Do I have to buy hurricane insurance?

Hurricane insurance isn’t usually required. However, some mortgage lenders can mandate homeowners or flood coverage before closing on a home loan. You should assess your insurance needs to determine if hurricane coverage makes sense for you. The cost of hurricane insurance can vary according to where you live, the value of your house, and the policy options and hurricane deductible you choose.

Does Your Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

Buying additional insurance can be a hassle. But hurricane insurance can mean the difference between having the coverage you need and having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars out of your own pocket.

Remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all insurance for hurricanes. Check your homeowner’s policy to discover gaps in coverage. Then, consider flood and windstorm insurance for additional protection for you and your family. Compare quotes on Insurify today. 

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Updated June 24, 2021

Amy is a content marketing writer who specializes in personal finance and technology. With a background in the legal field, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading and playing board games with her family. You can learn more at amybeardsley.com.