Find the Cheapest Homeowners Insurance Quotes in Your Area
There isn't a single kind of insurance policy called tornado insurance, but insurance policies for your home, apartment or car will usually cover damage to your property due to a tornado. Wind damage is included in almost all home insurance policies, and your car is protected so long as you have comprehensive car insurance coverage.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tornado Damage?
The most frequently occurring type of damage a tornado causes is to your home. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies include coverage for tornadoes or other wind damage. The most common type of homeowners coverage, HO3, or "open perils" coverage, will pay to repair wind damage. But wind damage is also covered in the more basic policy forms: HO2, or "named perils" coverage, as well as HO1, which only includes a limited list of perils.
The only exception is that in some areas of the United States, insurers may exclude wind damage from a standard home insurance policy. This is most common in coastal areas, where hurricanes are common and can lead to millions of dollars in claim payouts. Sometimes, this limitation only pertains to hurricanes (as opposed to other wind storms), but if you live in a coastal state, you should consult your policy in detail to be sure you're protected from tornado damage.
If you're a homeowner who doesn't have wind damage covered in your normal house insurance policy, you can usually buy an endorsement that will add tornado, windstorm and hurricane coverage back in.
How Much Does Tornado Insurance Cost?
Since tornado coverage for your house is built into the cost of regular homeowners insurance, you're covered by your existing homeowners insurance policy. If you don't own a home or don't have homeowners insurance, you can estimate the cost of coverage. Below, we've compiled the cost of homeowners insurance in some of the most tornado-prone areas in the United States from top insurers including State Farm, Allstate and Farmers Insurance.
|State||Average Cost of Tornado (Home) Insurance|
Flooding Damage Isn't Covered by Tornado Insurance Unless Wind Caused the Damage
As tornadoes are often accompanied by heavy storms, it's possible that your home may experience flooding during a tornado—especially if you live in a low-lying area. Unfortunately, damage due to flooding usually can't be claimed on homeowners insurance. Flood insurance is sold as a separate policy. So if your basement flooded during a tornado, you would not be covered.
However, you may be protected if the flooding was ultimately caused by wind damage. For instance, if a window was broken by flying debris and water got into your house through the opening, repairing that water damage would be covered.
Renters Insurance and Tornado Damage
Like homeowners insurance, most renters insurance policies cover damage to your home and your personal property due to tornadoes. It's sometimes referred to as windstorm damage, so check your renters policy for that kind of language.
Renters insurance only covers your own personal property, though. For example, if your apartment building is hit by a tornado and only your building's exterior is damaged, you wouldn't make a claim. But if your personal property is damaged as well, your renter's insurance policy would pick up the tab.
The biggest pitfall with renters insurance and tornadoes is not carrying coverage at all. Less than half of American renters carry coverage, and anyone without a renters insurance policy would be on the hook for any damage to their personal property due to a tornado.
Car Insurance and Tornado Damage
Cars are covered for tornado damage, as well as damage from other severe weather events, by comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for repair to your car any time it's damaged by anything other than a collision. In a tornado, this would include damage due to debris, flooding or even if your car itself is launched airborne by wind. Comprehensive coverage is an optional coverage, though, so you're only protected if you've chosen to add it to your car insurance policy.
Comprehensive coverage typically will pay you up to the total value of your car, so you don't need to worry about selecting a sufficient coverage limit. However, comprehensive coverage usually includes a deductible—a portion of the bill that you're responsible for paying.
Protect Your Home From Tornado Damage
Besides carrying sufficient coverage to protect your home and personal property in the case of a tornado, you should also take steps to minimize the opportunity for damage from a storm. The biggest danger in most tornadoes is flying debris, so one of the most important steps is to secure any lightweight objects that may be blown around. This includes:
- Securing or putting away lawn furniture and toys
- Trimming trees and bushes of dead branches
- Cutting away any foliage near your house or over utility lines
You can also make more substantial improvements to your home to protect against tornado damage. The most susceptible parts of your home are your roof, windows and doors, so they are the best candidates for reinforcement. Unless you're a very skilled DIYer, you'll likely want to leave most of these to the professionals.
- Reinforce your roof with hurricane straps or clips.
- Add permanent or temporary storm shutters to your windows and doors.
- Reinforce your garage door.
Stay Safe During a Tornado
Tornadoes are unpredictable and can appear with very little warning, so you should plan ahead and know what to do if one appears. Most importantly, designate one room in your house to go to during a tornado. It should be a room on a lower floor, away from windows and with relatively few items that could fall. The basement is ideal, but a bathroom or other small interior room will do.
It's also a good idea to have an emergency kit in your "safe room." Stock it with necessary supplies, like food, water and necessary medications.
Tornado Kit Supplies
- Nonperishable food
- Drinking water
- First aid kit
- Required medications
- Copies of important documents, like prescriptions and birth certificates
- Cell phone battery pack/charger
How Much Damage Can a Tornado Do?
The amount of damage a tornado will do can vary greatly. For example, an EF-0 tornado, which has a wind speed of 65-85 miles per hour, will do only light damage: It might break off small branches or peel off some roof tiles. But an EF-3 tornado (113-157 mph) will do much more: It will shift home foundations and start to lift cars off the ground. And the highest rating, EF-5 (200+ mph) will destroy essentially everything in its path. Make sure your homeowners insurance policy limits are high enough to fully replace your property if the worst happens.