Complete Guide to Hurricane Insurance
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Your home isn’t only where your heart is — it’s where your money is. It’s probably your most valuable investment, which is why you have a homeowners insurance policy to protect it.
But even the best home insurance won’t pay for every kind of hurricane damage. If you live near the coast, understanding what your homeowners policy will and won’t cover is key to finding the right hurricane insurance.
What is hurricane insurance?
There’s technically no single policy known as “hurricane insurance.” Instead, you’ll need to insure your home against the two main sources of hurricane damage: water and wind.
Depending on where you live, you may need to buy these separate policies to ensure adequate hurricane coverage:
Flood insurance. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, including water from a storm surge. To get coverage, you’ll need flood insurance.
Windstorm insurance. Homeowners insurance policies in some hurricane-prone states won’t pay for windstorm damage. If you live in one of these states and want coverage, buy a separate windstorm insurance policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover hurricane damage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy typically won’t cover flooding, but you can buy flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program or on the private market. Many major insurers provide flood insurance through an arrangement with the NFIP, so you can probably buy it from your home insurance agent.
In most states, standard homeowners policies cover damage caused by wind, including hurricanes. But if you live in a high-risk coastal state, you might need to buy separate windstorm insurance, either through your insurance company or a state-run insurance pool. It might also be available as a rider on your current policy. Windstorm insurance covers damage from any strong wind, not just hurricanes.
Where to get windstorm insurance
Below are examples of associations offering windstorm insurance coverage — and often coverage for hail damage — for homeowners who live in high-risk coastal areas and are unable to buy it elsewhere. This insurance may be in the form of a stand-alone wind policy or a homeowners policy that includes wind coverage.
Connecticut: Coastal Market Assistance Program.
Florida: Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
Georgia: Georgia Underwriting Association.
Maryland: Maryland Joint Insurance Association.
Massachusetts: Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association.
Mississippi: Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association.
New Jersey: New Jersey Insurance Underwriting Association.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association.
South Carolina: South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association.
Virginia: Virginia Property Insurance Association.
Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage?
Most renters policies won’t cover flood damage to your stuff — whether from a hurricane or other storm. If you’re renting a house or first-floor apartment near the coast, it may be worth buying flood insurance, but you may have trouble getting it for a basement apartment. (Your landlord’s insurance covers only the building’s structure, not your personal belongings.) Learn more about flood insurance for renters.
Most renters insurance does pay for wind damage, although this coverage is sometimes excluded in high-risk areas. If wind damage is a concern, check your policy to make sure you’re covered. If not, contact your insurance company or agent to see if you can add this coverage to your policy.
Windstorm, named storm and hurricane deductibles
A homeowners insurance deductible is the amount subtracted from your insurer’s payout after a claim. Say you have a $1,000 deductible and a kitchen fire does $5,000 worth of damage to your home. The insurer would pay $4,000 toward the damage while you cover the remaining $1,000.
If you live in a coastal area, your insurer may require you to have a separate hurricane, named storm or windstorm deductible in addition to your main deductible (often known as an “all other perils” deductible).
Although these deductibles sound similar, there are important differences:
Windstorm deductible: Sometimes called a wind/hail deductible, this applies to damage from hurricanes and also from tornadoes or other strong winds.
Named storm deductible: This type of deductible typically goes into effect if your home is damaged in a storm that’s been named by the National Weather Service or the National Hurricane Center. A tornado or other strong windstorm would not trigger this type of deductible.
Hurricane deductible: A hurricane deductible is generally triggered only when a storm has high enough winds to be categorized as a hurricane (rather than a tropical storm or depression). Although all hurricanes would trigger a named storm deductible, not all named storms are strong enough to become hurricanes. So if you have a hurricane deductible and the storm that damages your home had tropical storm winds, you would pay your all other perils deductible.
Home insurance deductibles are often a flat dollar amount, such as $1,000, while wind, named storm and hurricane deductibles are typically a percentage of your home’s insured value. They usually range from 1% to 5%, though they can be higher in high-risk coastal areas. If your home is insured for $500,000 and you have a 5% wind deductible, your insurer will deduct up to $25,000 from your payment if you file a claim.
Check with your agent to make sure you understand the deductibles that apply to your policy and under which circumstances they might be triggered.
The following 19 coastal states and Washington, D.C., allow insurers to charge special deductibles for hurricane damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
States where insurance companies can charge special deductibles for hurricane damage
Deductible percentages vary by state and insurance company. For example:
Alabama. The Alabama Insurance Underwriting Association offers wind/hail/hurricane deductible options of 1%, 2%, 5% and 10%.
Florida. Insurers must offer hurricane deductible options of $500, 2%, 5% and 10%. Deductibles can exceed 10% in some cases. The state has a “single season hurricane deductible,” which means you’re responsible for only one hurricane deductible during a given hurricane season, even if your home is hit by multiple storms. Once you’ve met your hurricane deductible, the all other perils deductible on your policy — typically a flat dollar amount — will apply for any subsequent hurricane claims.
Massachusetts. Some insurance companies have mandatory wind deductibles for residents who live in coastal areas. These may be fixed dollar amounts or percentages, depending on how much coverage you need and how close you are to the shore.
New York. Wind or hurricane deductibles generally range from 1% to 5%. Hurricane deductibles may be mandatory if you live in certain areas. If you have one, your insurer must list it as a dollar amount on your home insurance declarations page (the page near the front of your policy that spells out your coverage limits).
Pennsylvania. Hurricane and storm deductibles typically range from 1% to 5% under homeowners policies.
Rhode Island. A windstorm deductible on a homeowners policy cannot exceed 5% of a home’s insured value.
How much is hurricane insurance?
The average cost of homeowners insurance in the U.S. is $1,820 per year, according to NerdWallet’s rate analysis. Meanwhile, flood insurance from the NFIP costs $771 a year, on average. That adds up to a total hurricane insurance cost of $2,555 per year, on average. (See what flood insurance costs in your state.)
Some coastal homeowners will need to add wind coverage on top of flood and homeowners insurance to be fully covered for a hurricane — and it can be pricey. As an example, the average annual residential premium from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is $1,750.
Hurricane insurance costs significantly less if you’re renting. The NFIP offers flood insurance for renters from as little as $99 a year, while the average cost of renters insurance is $179 per year, according to NerdWallet’s 2022 rate analysis.
Your own rates will vary depending on where you live, the amount of hurricane coverage you need and the deductibles you choose.
Tips for buying hurricane coverage
Whether you’re buying home, flood or windstorm insurance — or all three — make sure you have enough coverage to pay for the full cost of rebuilding your house and replacing your possessions. Your insurance agent can help you pinpoint the right amount.
Don’t put it off. Flood insurance policies usually impose a 30-day waiting period between the time you buy and the time coverage takes effect. And insurers typically won’t adjust your coverage once a storm is forecast.
Any time your policy is up for renewal, note that you may be able to save money by comparing home insurance quotes to find a lower rate for the same coverage.
Homeowners insurance rates methodology
NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old homeowners from various insurance companies in every ZIP code across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. All rates are rounded to the nearest $5.
Sample homeowners were nonsmokers with good credit living in a single-family, two-story home built in 1984. They had a $1,000 deductible and the following coverage limits:
$300,000 in dwelling coverage.
$30,000 in other structures coverage.
$150,000 in personal property coverage.
$60,000 in loss of use coverage.
$300,000 in liability coverage.
$1,000 in medical payments coverage.
We made minor changes to the sample policy in cases where rates for the above coverage limits or deductibles weren’t available.
These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.
Flood insurance rates methodology
NerdWallet used the National Flood Insurance Program’s most recent “Policy Information by State” report to calculate the average cost of flood insurance in each state and across the country. To determine the national average, we divided the total written premium for all communities across the U.S. by the total number of policies in force. To determine the average for each state, we divided the total written premium for all communities within that state by the state’s total number of policies in force.