How to Protect Your Home From Tornado Damage

Homeowners insurance covers tornado damage in most states. But homeowners in certain states at high risk of tornadoes might need additional coverage.

Courtney Washington
Courtney Washington

Courtney Washington is a Texas A&M University graduate. Her extensive knowledge and background in auto, home, and umbrella policies make her a one-stop shop for insurance advice and information. She loves to help her readers understand their insurance choices so they can make informed decisions about their coverage.

Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Updated March 27, 2024

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An average of 1,000 tornadoes occur across the U.S. and cause more than 1,500 injuries each year. While a tornado can touch down anywhere in the U.S., they typically occur between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains during the spring and summer months, according to the National Weather Service.[1]

Homeowners in tornado-prone areas should ensure they have the best home insurance policy to fully protect their property from any tornado damage that may occur. Here’s what you need to know about tornado insurance, how to prepare for a tornado, filing a claim, and more.

Quick Facts
  • Homeowners in areas like Tornado Alley might need a separate windstorm insurance policy to cover tornado damage.

  • Home insurance costs vary based on location, so homeowners in tornado-prone regions may pay more for coverage than homeowners in other areas.

  • You may pay 1%5% of your total dwelling coverage as a wind deductible if you file a claim for tornado damage.

Does home insurance cover tornado damage?

Homeowners insurance policies cover damage due to most weather incidents, including tornadoes.[2] Here are the different parts of a home insurance policy and what each part covers.[3]

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/150x150/2954edc862/types-of-houses-96x96-orange_023-house.svg

    Dwelling coverage

    Dwelling coverage in a home insurance policy covers the house and structures attached to or built into it. It also includes damages to fixtures, plumbing, wiring, and more.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/32ed42213e/personal-property.svg

    Personal property coverage

    This provides coverage for personal belongings, possessions, furniture, clothes, and more. It can even cover possessions not on the property, such as items in a locker at a child’s school or in your office.

  • car in carage

    Other structures coverage

    Insurance companies classify other structures as any structure on your property not attached to the home, like a shed, gazebo, or fence. This part of a home insurance policy pays for damages to those structures.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/100x100/e5213a7025/loss-of-use.svg

    Loss of use coverage

    Loss of use coverage pays for living expenses — like hotel rooms, meals, and more — you incur if your home is uninhabitable during a covered claim.

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Additional home insurance coverages to consider

A basic home insurance policy may not have enough coverage to fully protect your property and assets. Consider these additional coverages when shopping for home insurance:[3]

  • Guaranteed replacement cost: This fully covers the cost of rebuilding your home after a covered loss.

  • Personal liability coverage: Pays for other parties’ injuries and damages that you’re legally responsible for.

  • Sewer backup coverage: If an unnamed peril damages your sewer lines and causes water to back up into your home, this steps in to cover any damages the backup causes. But it doesn’t cover fixing the sewer line or fixing the cause of the backup.

See Next: What HO-3 Insurance Policies Cover

See Next: What HO-3 Insurance Policies Cover

How to file an insurance claim after tornado damage

Here’s how to start a home insurance claim after tornado damage:

  1. Move to a safe area. Relocate to a safe area and seek medical assistance for anyone who needs it. The top priority after a natural disaster is ensuring everyone’s safety.

  2. Document damages. Take as many photos and videos as you can to document the extent of the tornado damage. Also include a list of your damaged or destroyed home inventory that you need to replace.

  3. Contact your insurance company. Call an insurance agent to report the damage and file your claim as soon as possible. Your agent will guide you through the claims process and answer any questions you may have.

  4. Make temporary repairs, if possible. Your policy can reimburse you for any costs you incur while making temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your property from theft, rain, or wind.

  5. Hire contractors to repair damages. Your insurance company may refer you to contractors in your area who can repair your damages, or you may find services on your own to complete repairs. You can consult with your insurance adjuster about payment terms and average repair timelines if you have questions.

  6. Follow up. This process can take a while, especially if insurance companies have multiple claims in one area. If it’s been a while since you’ve received an update, don’t be afraid to call and ask questions or check for updated information.

How deductibles work after a tornado

When you file a claim after a tornado, you may pay a deductible to the company making repairs to your house before insurance covers the rest. In other cases, your home insurance company may send you the payment for your claim but subtract your deductible amount from the check.

Your home insurance policy may apply a windstorm or wind deductible for a tornado insurance claim. It can be a flat-dollar amount outlined in your policy or a percentage of the home’s dwelling coverage limit, usually 1%5%.[4] In either case, your insurance company pays for the rest of your repairs after you pay the deductible.

For Example

If your wind deductible is 2% and your dwelling coverage is $250,000, you’d pay $5,000 when filing a claim for tornado damage.

Are you protected if a tornado causes flood damage?

Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage, even if the weather that accompanies a tornado causes the flooding. It’s important to understand the source of the flood damage to determine what kind of home insurance covers it.

If a nearby river overflows or rain causes flash flooding that damages your home, a flood insurance policy pays for the damages. But if a tornado damages your roof and rain leaks in, damaging your property and belongings, your home insurance policy covers the wind-driven rain damage.[5]

Check Out: What’s An Act of God in Home Insurance?

Check Out: What’s An Act of God in Home Insurance?

Cost of tornado insurance

Insurance companies usually include tornado insurance in the standard homeowners policy. The average cost of homeowners insurance is $1,770 per year. But coverage and prices can vary drastically based on the company, deductible amount, and home’s location.

The table below shows average home insurance quotes for $250,000 in dwelling coverage from the top home insurance companies.

Home Insurance CompanyAverage Annual Quote
Westfield$887
Armed Forces Insurance$1,190
Erie$1,159
American Family$1,233
Travelers$1,369
ASI$1,403
Allstate$1,439
USAA$1,471
Auto-Owners$1,487
State Farm$1,487
United P&C$1,454
Farmers$1,525
Chubb$1,536
Nationwide$1,637
Stillwater$1,752
Foremost$1,789
Safeco$2,052
Allied$2,017
Hippo$2,067
Encompass$2,150
Metropolitan$2,247
COUNTRY Financial$2,468

Tornado insurance for renters

Renters insurance policies usually cover damage to your personal property due to fires, rain, hail, snow, and windstorms.[6] But these policies don’t cover damages to the rental property — your landlord’s insurance policy covers that.

If a tornado destroys your apartment and your belongings, you’d file a claim for just your belongings. Then, your landlord can file a claim for the rental property. Meanwhile, if your policy covers additional living expenses, you can get reimbursement for hotel rooms, meals, and other related expenses while you’re displaced.[6]

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Tips for preventing tornado damage

If you live in an area prone to tornadoes, you can take the following steps to reduce or prevent damage to your property during severe weather:

  • Remove outdoor hazards. Secure items like grills and patio furniture ahead of time to protect your home as much as possible.

  • Install roof reinforcements. Hire a professional to install hurricane clips or straps directly to the roof rafters or trusses and to the studs of load-bearing walls. These will hold the roof on more securely to withstand high winds.

  • Add protection to doors and windows. Homeowners can swap standard home windows for impact-resistant windows, add storm shutters to windows or doors, and brace garage doors to further secure their home.

  • Know where to access your home’s power, water, and gas switches. Be prepared to switch them off as the storm approaches to reduce the risk of fires, explosions, and water backup from a tornado’s impact.

Tornado insurance FAQs

Learn more about hurricane preparedness, and check out the answers to common questions about tornado insurance below.

  • Does home insurance cover damage to cars?

    No. Comprehensive car insurance, which is part of a full-coverage policy, covers your car after damage due to inclement weather. But home insurance can cover damage to personal items inside a vehicle that aren’t permanently attached to the vehicle.

  • When is tornado damage not covered by a home insurance policy?

    If your home insurance policy doesn’t name windstorms as a covered peril, it may not cover tornado damage. Check your home insurance declarations page or contact your insurance agent to understand what it does and doesn’t cover.

  • Is it hard to get home insurance in tornado-prone states?

    Not typically. Generally, it’s not hard to get home insurance in tornado-prone states. But you may find you pay more for coverage in a state susceptible to tornadoes than you would in states without common severe weather events.

Sources

  1. National Weather Service. "Tornadoes FAQ."
  2. III. "Which disasters are covered by homeowners insurance?."
  3. NAIC. "A Consumer's Guide to Home Insurance."
  4. III. "Background on: Hurricane and windstorm deductibles."
  5. FEMA. "Wind Damage Versus Floodwater Damage: What You Need to Know When Filing a Claim."
  6. III. "Renters Insurance."
Courtney Washington
Courtney Washington

Courtney Washington is a Texas A&M University graduate. Her extensive knowledge and background in auto, home, and umbrella policies make her a one-stop shop for insurance advice and information. She loves to help her readers understand their insurance choices so they can make informed decisions about their coverage.

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

media logomedia logo

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