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What is tornado insurance?

Tornado insurance is special coverage included in your homeowners insurance policy that specifically covers damage caused by twisters. Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover tornadoes, but some require a special separate endorsement.

Tornadoes, cyclones, twisters…whatever you call these scary natural disasters, they can do a lot of damage.

Do you know if your homeowner’s insurance policy covers tornado damage? Some don’t, and even those that do might have inadequate or partial coverage. Here, check out our guide to tornado insurance. If you’re thinking of making a safer switch, don’t forget that you can compare and purchase a new policy right here with Insurify. Do you know if your homeowners insurance covers damages from tornadoes? If you’re in Tornado Alley, you may want to find out.

Before we dive into the nuances of your policy, let’s review some quick tips to reduce damage and loss of your personal property in the event of a tornado. These are especially important if you live in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and parts of South Dakota—the areas of the United States known as “Tornado Alley.” Although tornadoes can occur anywhere, the flat plains of the midwest are most susceptible.

Preventing Tornado Damage

  • Compile a kit. Your tornado kit should include items that can be used without power or water, like flashlights, spare batteries, nonperishable foods, and a battery-operated radio. It’s also a good idea to keep these supplies near important paperwork and valuables. If the worst occurs, you won’t be able to head to the bank to access your safe deposit box. Keep items like social security cards, passports, and insurance documents in a water- and fire-resistant box at home.

  • Go outside. Every few months, examine the area around your home to assess potential threats in the event of a tornado or other type of weather event. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed and in good condition, removing dead branches as soon as possible. Ensure that loose items like patio furniture are secured to the ground when you’re not using them. If you live near power lines, keep the areas around them clear. You may need to hire a professional tree trimmer to remove branches near power lines.

  • Have a plan. Even if tornado season isn’t for another six months, it’s not a bad idea to check in with your family to make sure you have a plan. If a tornado strikes and you become separated, where will you meet? How will you communicate? By making sure you’re all on the same page, you can be completely prepared when and if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

How to Know if Tornadoes are Covered on Your Policy

Unlike flood insurance, there’s no separate policy for “tornado insurance.” This is because the damage caused by tornadoes can typically be categorized as either wind damage or water damage. If your home is struck by a tornado and you need to file an insurance claim, your insurance company will classify the damage as flood-related or wind-related. Homeowners insurance policies nearly always cover wind damage, but flood damage is another story. If your home is at risk for serious flood damage, you can purchase a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program.

One interesting quirk of this type of insurance coverage? If moisture gets into your home because of wind (for example, if wind damages your roof and allows rain to enter), your homeowners insurance policy will likely cover the damage caused by that rain.

After a disaster, an insurance agent may come to your home to assess the damage and try to understand exactly how it was caused.

Having tornado insurance, whether it came with your standard policy or you’ve chosen to purchase it as a special endorsement, gives policyholders peace of mind knowing that damage to their personal belongings, collectibles, and any additional living expenses they may encounter are financially protected by their insurance policy. Coverage limits you’ve previously agreed to with your insurer may determine how much your covered losses amount to in reimbursement after a claim.

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Tornado Coverage for Renters

If you rent your home in tornado country, you might have wondered what you’d be liable for in the event of a destructive twister. The rule for tornadoes is the same for any type of natural disaster: renters are only liable for damage to their own personal property. Any damage to the home itself, whether it’s a single-family home, a guest house, an apartment, or something else, is covered by the owner’s own home insurance policy. This might be traditional homeowners insurance, condo insurance, or another policy depending on the type of dwelling you live in.

In the event of a damaging tornado, your renters insurance policy is likely to cover the following:

  • Personal Belongings: Depending on the specifics of your policy, you may be awarded the actual cash value or the replacement cost of your personal property. “Actual cash value” is the amount of money that your stuff is currently worth—what you paid for it when it was new, minus depreciation. “Replacement cost” is equal to the amount of money it would cost to purchase a new replacement today. It’s very important to double-check what your policy offers well before you need it.

  • Accommodations: If your rental is too badly damaged to occupy safely or comfortably, your renters insurance policy will likely pay for you to stay in a hotel until the necessary repairs have been made.

Tornado Coverage for Your Car

Your auto insurance policy likely covers most damage caused by tornadoes, including wind damage or damage from falling debris. Check to ensure your car insurance includes “ comprehensive coverage.” These are the magic words in your policy that will ensure your ride is safe in extreme weather. Tornado insurance inclusions on standard homeowners insurance policies will likely not cover damages to your car after high winds from a twister.

If you live in a manufactured or mobile home, you will want to take a closer look at your HO3 policy to see what’s covered when it comes to tornado damage.

Tornado Insurance - Frequently Asked Questions

  • It depends. Many standard homeowners insurance companies will include coverage for damage from tornadoes or twisters, unlike flood or hurricane coverage. Sometimes, though, policies will require a special endorsement, also known as a rider, to secure tornado insurance through your standard policy. Check the declarations page on your homeowners insurance policy to see if you need to go tornado insurance shopping.

  • Tornado insurance will cover damage caused exclusively from tornadoes. If your property suffers damage from wind caused by a strong storm or hurricane, you may not be covered.

  • Yes. This type of coverage is referred to as loss of use coverage. If you lose the ability to use an item that was damaged in a tornado, or your home itself, your insurance will help you cover the cost of accommodation as well as meals and other living expenses while you're getting back on your feet.

Tornado Insurance: The Bottom Line

Don’t let your largest financial get swept away. Make sure your homeowners insurance policy covers tornadoes before it’s too late. Insurify allows you to compare home insurance quotes from top-rated companies in just minutes. Browse, Compare, Discover with Insurify today!

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Alex Lancaster
Alex LancasterInsurance Writer

Alex Lancaster is a writer, traveler, and cat person living in Southern California. With a background in copywriting and content strategy, she loves simplifying the complex and making connections.