Is Hurricane Damage Covered by Homeowners or Flood Insurance?

Is Hurricane Damage Covered by Homeowners or Flood Insurance?

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There's no specific insurance policy that provides hurricane coverage, but depending on where you live and your coverage, certain hurricane damage may be covered by your homeowners or renters insurance policy. However, flooding due to hurricanes is consistently excluded from home and renters insurance, so you should also consider a flood insurance policy. Homeowners that live in hurricane-prone regions, such as parts of Florida, Louisiana and Texas, may also have to supplement their coverage with windstorm insurance to cover all hurricane damages. If a hurricane strikes, you may need to file a claim under one or all of these policies to receive compensation for the damage.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Hurricanes?

The dwelling and personal property coverage provided by a homeowners insurance policy is primarily restricted by perils, or causes of damage. Depending on the type of policy you have, the perils that are covered will either be named specifically or you'll be covered from all perils except those that are specifically excluded. Hurricanes aren't generally named as either a covered or excluded peril, but their effects, such as wind and flooding, are.

  • Wind: Wind damage, such as blowing shingles off a roof or a tree being ripped up, is covered by most homeowners insurance policies. But if you live in certain regions that are likely to face hurricanes, wind coverage may actually be an excluded peril from your policy. You would need to refer to your home insurance declarations page to confirm whether you need separate coverage for wind.
  • Flooding and Water Damage: Homeowners insurance provides coverage for some forms of water damage, such as a burst pipe, but flooding or storm surge from a hurricane is almost certainly excluded. There are questionable scenarios, such as if hurricane winds blow debris through your window and rain damages your carpeting. In these cases, your home insurance may step in to cover the carpet damage, but you'll want to make sure you have coverage in place for wind and flooding, just in case.
  • Sewer Backup: Sewer backup isn't consistently covered by homeowners insurance, but you can generally add a sewer backup endorsement to your policy. If heavy rainfall from a hurricane causes sewer backup, you'd want to make sure you have both sewer backup and flood coverage in place to ensure that, no matter what insurance adjusters determine to be the root cause, your damages are covered.
  • Evacuation and Temporary Relocation: Generally, if you evacuate your home to avoid a pending hurricane, homeowners insurance won't cover your expenses. But when you return, if the house isn't livable, the additional living expenses portion of your policy will pay for you to stay in a hotel and cover certain incremental costs you incur by living elsewhere.

Since hurricanes cause multiple events to occur at the same time, they're particularly risky for homeowners if you're covered for certain events but not others. For example, if your homeowners insurance covered damage from the hurricane's winds but you don't have flood insurance, a portion or the entirety of your claim might be denied if your house sustained water damage. Homeowners insurance also typically won't cover a claim for hurricane damage to your car, RV or boat. Damage to these vehicles would be covered under the comprehensive portion of a full coverage car, RV or boat insurance policy.

Even if your claim is covered, hurricanes pose an additional issue in that they cause damage to a large number of properties at once. This leads to spikes in the cost of labor and construction materials just when you need them the most.

When you're looking for a home insurance policy, you may be able to choose between actual cash value, replacement value and guaranteed replacement cost coverage. These options refer to the amount you would receive in payment if your house, or part of it, was destroyed in a hurricane. Replacement cost coverage is more expensive than actual cash value because your policy will pay to restore your property to new should it be damaged, while actual cash value accounts for depreciation. Guaranteed replacement cost coverage is the most expensive, as it also will pay to cover increased costs of construction or materials that you might face after an event like a hurricane.

Hurricane and Named Storm Home Insurance Deductibles

If your homeowners insurance policy covers wind damage or other damages from hurricanes, claims may be subject to a separate deductible, often called a hurricane deductible or named-storm deductible. Named-storm and hurricane deductibles are higher than a standard homeowners insurance deductible and are often set as a percentage of your dwelling coverage. The amount varies according to your state's laws and the insurer you choose but can range from 1% to 10% of your home's value.

There are currently 20 states that have hurricane deductibles, so you'll want to check your homeowners insurance policy if you live in one of them to determine what you might pay in the event of a hurricane:

  • Alabama
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Virginia

In order for a hurricane or named-storm deductible to apply, a certain trigger needs to have happened, such as the National Weather Service issuing a hurricane warning in the state. Triggers can be set either by the state or insurer, so you should refer to your homeowners insurance policy to understand what the trigger is. They may also apply to other natural disasters, such as tropical cyclones.

You should similarly understand whether the deductible is applied on a per-event or annual basis. Florida, for example, restricts the use of a hurricane deductible to an annual basis. This means that, once you've met the deductible, any damage from further hurricanes covered by the insurer in that year would not require you to pay a separate deductible.

Windstorm Insurance Coverage for Hurricanes

If you live in a hurricane-prone region, your homeowners insurance policy may specifically exclude wind damage, particularly if it's linked to a hurricane. In these cases, you'll need to purchase a separate windstorm or wind and hail insurance policy to supplement your coverage. Wind insurance can either be purchased as an endorsement to your home insurance policy, as a separate policy from a private insurer or through a government program. Generally, you'll need to have been rejected by at least one private insurer before the government-run insurers, such as Texas' TWIA, will accept you.

Similar to homeowners insurance, windstorm insurance or an endorsement will typically cover not just your home, but other structures on your property, such as tool sheds or fences.

How Does Flood Insurance Cover Hurricanes?

Flood damage caused by a hurricane will not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Instead, you'll need a separate flood insurance policy that will cover rising water and storm surge from natural disasters. If you live in a region that is at higher risk of flooding and hurricanes, you may already be required to maintain flood insurance as a term of your mortgage. However, it's still a good idea to consider coverage if you live in a flood plain, even if it hasn't been zoned as high risk.

Flood insurance policies from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provide coverage for both your dwelling as well as the contents of your home. However, if you want over $250,000 of dwelling coverage, coverage for landscaping or decks that could be damaged in a hurricane, or additional living expenses coverage, you'll need to get a policy from a private flood insurance company. NFIP policies also generally exclude coverage for basement flooding or damage to a basement's contents, so they won't pay out for claims involving basement property. Private flood insurance can either be purchased as excess flood insurance coverage, adding on to your NFIP policy or as a standalone policy.

The cost of flood insurance varies based upon where your house is located, as well as whether it's your primary residence—vacation rental homes and secondary houses may cost more to insure. Note that flood insurance, similar to windstorm insurance, should be purchased well in advance of a storm, as it can take a month before being in effect. If you live in an area that may face hurricanes, you likely won't be covered if you wait until a warning to purchase coverage, and your flood insurance claim will be denied.

When Does Renters Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

Renters insurance policies are similar to homeowners insurance, in that they'll cover certain damages associated with hurricanes, so long as the event is either named or not excluded from your policy. And renters insurance policies also don't cover flooding, so renters need separate policies to cover flood damage.

Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance doesn't cover hurricane damage to the outside of the building your condo or apartment is located in. Your landlord's insurance should cover damages to the external structure. In addition, if your apartment has covered damage from a hurricane, you would only have to pay your standard deductible. There's no hurricane deductible for renters insurance policies.

Chris Moon

Chris is a Product Manager for ValuePenguin with years of experience in addressing critical questions about mortgages and homeowners insurance. He spends his time evaluating insurance providers and policy features to understand where consumers might find the most cost-effective coverage. Chris has contributed insights to the New York Times and many other publications.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.