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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.
You may need to buy these separate policies to ensure adequate hurricane coverage:
Flood insurance. No homeowners insurance policy will 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 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.
Here are examples of associations offering windstorm coverage — and often coverage for hail damage — for homeowners who live in high-risk coastal areas and are unable to buy it elsewhere:
Connecticut: Coastal Market Assistance Program.
Delaware: Insurance Placement Facility of Delaware.
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 Reassurance Association.
South Carolina: South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association.
Virginia: Virginia Property Insurance Association.
Does renters insurance cover hurricane damage?
As with homeowners insurance, most renters policies won’t cover flood damage to your stuff — whether from a hurricane or other storm. That may not matter if you live on the eighth floor of a high-rise, but if you’re renting a house or ground-floor apartment near the coast, it may be worth buying flood insurance. (Remember: Your landlord’s insurance covers only the building’s structure, not your personal belongings.)
Most renters insurance does pay for wind damage, although this coverage is sometimes excluded in high-risk areas. If wind damage is a concern, double-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
Some insurers impose a separate hurricane, named storm and/or windstorm deductible on home and renters policies. An insurance deductible is the amount subtracted from your insurer’s claim payout.
Although these deductibles sound similar, there are important differences:
Windstorm deductible: Sometimes called a wind/hail deductible, this applies to damage not only from hurricanes but 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).
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, up to $25,000 will be deducted 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 general 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. Deductibles generally range from 1% to 5%. Higher percentages and flat amounts are also available.
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 $1,631 per year, according to NerdWallet’s rate analysis, while flood insurance from the NFIP costs $732 a year, on average. That adds up to a total hurricane insurance cost of $2,363 per year, on average.
Editor's note: FEMA has announced that new flood insurance rates will begin rolling out on Oct. 1, 2021, for new policyholders and those who are eligible for renewal. All existing policies renewing on or after April 1, 2022, will also be subject to the new rates. About 23% of policyholders will see their premiums go down, while everyone else will pay more.
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 $1,700.
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 $168 per year, according to NerdWallet’s 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 procrastinate. 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, remember that you may be able to save money by comparing quotes to find a lower rate for the same coverage.