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While you may befamiliar with standard dwelling insurance for your property, another type of coverage you might need is windstorm insurance. As the name implies, this insurance coverage can help protect you financially if extreme winds or wind-related storms damage your home.
Depending on where you live and your home’s needs, separate windstorm insurance could be worth adding to your existing coverage. Here’s a look at what windstorm coverage is, what it offers, and how this insurance can protect you and your home.
While homeowners insurance typically covers some wind-related damages, windstorm insurance is a special kind of insurance designed to cover damages and losses that high winds or wind-related storms cause in high-risk locations.
You can typically purchase this coverage as an add-on or rider to a standard homeowners insurance policy, but some companies and state agencies sell it as a stand-alone policy. Sometimes, it’s only available from select agencies or in areas where wind events are more common, like coastal cities and islands.
What does windstorm insurance cover?
If your home is in a high-risk area, your standard homeowners insurance policy might exclude certain damages. This is often the case for homes in hurricane- or tornado-prone cities.
Homes in these at-risk areas often experience windstorms more frequently, or they may encounter larger and more intense storms that cause serious damage. If a heavy wind event occurs, a windstorm insurance policy will help pay for repairs and covered losses related to your:
Personal belongings and electronics
Additional structures, such as a fence or garage
Keep in Mind
A standard homeowners policy may cover some damages, like missing roof shingles. But the policy may exclude wind-related damages if your home is located in hurricane-prone states like Florida, Texas, and the Carolinas.
What windstorm insurance doesn’t cover
Windstorm insurance covers damages that heavy winds cause. This means that it won’t cover water damage, flooding, or hail damage, even if the same storm caused it. Windstorm insurance only covers damages directly related to the wind event. You may need to purchase other riders in order to cover other damages, and these may have a separate deductible.
Some examples of damages that windstorm insurance doesn’t typically cover include:
High-speed winds blowing a tree onto your car
Flooding and water intrusion due to storm surges
Water damage to the inside of your home after a covered wind event blew off a section of your roof
Some policies explicitly exclude other structures, like a pool or garage, while others will include this in your coverage. It’s very important that you read your policy documents closely to determine what damages it does and doesn’t cover, and whether you’ll need to buy additional insurance to adequately protect your home.
Windstorm insurance is not the same as hurricane insurance. Even though hurricanes produce heavy, damaging winds, some windstorm insurance policies exclude named storms if you live in a coastal area. Conversely, other policies (especially in lower-risk areas) might exclude windstorm damages if the storm isn’t named or if winds don’t reach a certain speed.
Insurers may also deny your claim if you wait too long to report the damages and file. Be sure to follow your insurance company’s guidelines if you need to file a claim.
How to file a windstorm insurance claim
If wind damages your home, you may need to file a claimagainst your eligible windstorm insurance coverage.
Once you’ve ensured that everyone in the home is safe — particularly in the case of a serious storm — document the damage. Take plenty of photos that you can show to your insurance company and write down any important details, such as the items damaged and when the damage occurred.
Insurance companies have their own claims processes. Some insurers offer a portal or mobile app where you can easily begin a claim on the go and even take photos directly from your phone. Others may require you to call or contact your agent to submit a claim. You’ll need to know how your insurance company starts homeowners insurance claims, then follow that process accordingly.
Once you file a claim, your insurer may contact you for additional information or send out an adjuster to assess the damage in person. You may be allowed to make temporary repairs in the interim, especially if it means securing your home. However, potentially hold off on making any permanent repairs until your insurance company has a chance to evaluate the damage and even get a quote from an approved vendor.
File your claim as quickly as possible, as most insurers have a time limit from the date of damage. If you don’t file your claim fast enough, you may automatically be denied.
Your cost for windstorm insurance depends on your home’s value, features, location, and existing coverage. For example, windstorm insurance from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association costs an average of $1,750 per year, but your individual windstorm insurance premiums may vary.
Understanding your windstorm insurance deductible
Your deductible is the first portion of repair costs that you’re responsible for paying, before the insurer will step in to pay the remainder of your claim, up to your policy limits. This deductible is set when you first purchase your policy, and you’ll usually have a choice between a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the home’s value.
If you purchase windstorm insurance as a rider to your homeowners insurance policy, it will often have a percentage-based deductible structure. This means that you’ll pay a portion of your home’s insured value anytime you need to file a claim. If your home is insured for $400,000 and you opt for a 1% deductible, you’ll cover the first $4,000 worth of repairs if you ever need to file a claim.
Some states allow for your policy to have more than one deductible for covered claims, depending on whether or not a named storm caused the damage.
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Windstorm insurance FAQs
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about windstorm insurance.
Is windstorm insurance mandatory?
Whether windstorm insurance coverage is required depends largely on where you live and whether or not you have a mortgage loan on your home. If you live in a high-risk area, your lender may mandate that you purchase additional windstorm insurance to protect the home, especially if windstorm damage is excluded from your standard homeowners insurance policy. If you don’t live in a high-risk area, this coverage is usually optional.
What does insurance consider a windstorm?
Each insurance company and state agency has its own guidelines for windstorms, which can also vary according to your home’s risk level. Some windstorm insurance policies will only cover damages if a named storm causes them, such as a hurricane or tornado. Others may exclude named storms entirely if you live in a hurricane-prone area. In that case, you also need to purchase hurricane insurance.
Will windstorm insurance cover wind-driven rain claims?
Wind-driven rain is when strong wind forces precipitation into a structure, such as through windows or a roof that’s been damaged by the storm. Windstorm insurance may cover wind-driven rain if the wind blows water into weak window seals or underneath doors.
If water rises from the ground and makes its way into your home, flood insurance, not windstorm insurance, usually covers damages. However, if wind-driven rain causes the pooling or water damage, it may fall under your windstorm coverage umbrella.
Is windstorm insurance worth it?
Not every home needs windstorm insurance, especially if your existing homeowners insurance policy already covers certain wind-related claims. If you live in a high-risk area, however, your standard policy may exclude windstorm damages, making it wise for you to also purchase windstorm insurance.
Will windstorm insurance cover damage to your fence?
Whether or not windstorm insurance covers additional structures — such as a fence, detached garage, shed, or patio — depends on the policy itself. Some insurers allow coverage for these structures, so if a storm blows through and knocks down your fence, your insurance will step in to help pay for replacement or repair.
However, some policies exclude structures like fences. In this case, you may need to file a claim on your homeowners insurance policy (if applicable) or pay out of pocket for repairs in the case of a windstorm event.
Stephanie is a DC-based freelance writer. She primarily covers personal finance topics such as insurance, loans, real estate investing, and retirement. Her work can be found on CBS, FOX Business, MSN, Yahoo! Finance, Business Insider, and more. When she isn't helping people plan for their financial futures, she is traveling, hiking with her kids, or writing for her own website, TomorrowsDollar.com. She can be reached on Twitter @stephcolestock