Written by Andy Gurczak

August 17, 2021

Tornado Insurance: What You Need to Know

Tornadoes can be a scary and tragic event that can also result in terrible losses. For example, a common casualty of a tornado is the destruction of people’s homes. They can get anywhere from slightly damaged to completely wrecked in an event like this. For this reason, homeowners often wonder if their home insurance includes tornado insurance. Or if there’s a policy for tornado insurance specifically.

However, the answer to this question can be tricky because tornado insurance coverage depends on a few factors. For instance, most standard homeowners insurance covers damage from wind and hail, but doesn’t cover high winds. And tornadoes can produce winds in excess of 300 miles per hour, as well as hail storms. Therefore, in areas that are susceptible to tornadoes, you might want to get special windstorm insurance since it covers high winds. If your home is located in an affected area, it pays to be prepared and protected.

Learn more about tornado insurance down below.

Tornado Insurance Tornado

What is Tornado Insurance?

Tornado insurance usually refers to the coverage necessary to insure against damage caused by tornadoes. Although there’s no such thing as a single policy called tornado insurance.

Generally, tornadoes cause damage through wind, hail, and sometimes water. Damage to your home from wind and hail is usually covered under your homeowners insurance as a covered peril. To illustrate, a peril is an event that may damage your home or belongings, such as a theft, fire, or a storm. The type of peril coverage you have depends on the type of homeowners insurance you purchased. With this in mind, a standard homeowners insurance includes coverage for: fire, lightning, theft, ice, snow, sleet, wind, hail, smoke, vandalism, and freezing.

However, if you live in “tornado alley,” you may need additional coverage for damage due to high winds. Tornado alley refers to areas in the southern plains that consistently experiences a high frequency of tornadoes each year.

Does Standard Homeowners Insurance Include Tornado Insurance?

Although standard homeowners insurance covers wind and hail, it doesn’t cover extreme or high winds like those from tornadoes or hurricanes. Therefore, if you live in an area where tornadoes are common, you likely need additional windstorm insurance. However, this may be different in states where tornadoes are less common. So in order to be sure we suggest consulting your home insurance policy.

If your policy is not clear enough, don’t hesitate to ask an agent. With this in mind, most standard homeowners insurance policies include dwelling coverage, which may help pay to repair or rebuild your home if wind from a tornado damages it. On the other hand, personal property coverage may help pay to repair or replace damaged or destroyed belongings that were inside your home.

Tornado Insurance Mold Damage

Tornado Insurance: What About Mold and Water Damage?

Wind and hail storms can produce damage that can then cause mold. Mold damage that occurred because of a covered peril, such as a wind or a hail storm, may be covered by your standard homeowners insurance. Therefore, if mold is not related to a named insurance peril, most homeowners insurance companies will deny you coverage.

Similarly, homeowners insurance offers coverage for water damage under certain circumstances. For example, water damage due to flooding is not covered under homeowners insurance and requires separate flood insurance coverage. And meanwhile, windstorm coverage also doesn’t cover water damage.

Tornado Insurance: Damage Caused By Trees

Tornadoes may cause trees to fall, which can damage your house or car, as well as other people’s property. But not all damage may be covered. For this reason, insurers heavily rely on the circumstances of the damage to determine if they will cover it. To illustrate, if wind caused the tree to topple onto your home, and your policy’s covered perils include wind, your insurer will likely cover you for it.

On the other hand, if a maintenance-related issue caused the tree to fall on your home, then your homeowners insurance policy probably won’t pay for repairs. For example, a maintenance related issue could be that you neglected a rotting tree and it fell on your house.

Deductibles and Limits on Tornado Insurance Coverage

When you file an insurance claim, you will likely need to pay your deductible first. This is the amount you’re responsible for before an insurer will pay toward a covered claim.

With this in mind, remember that the maximum amount your insurance policy will pay toward a covered loss will apply. This is known as insurance limits.

Furthermore, when it comes to replacing your belongings, there are two ways your insurer could reimburse you: for the item’s actual cash value or replacement cost. Actual cash value coverage pays you the cash value of the contents you insured, but factors in depreciation of the item. Meanwhile, replacement cost coverage helps reimburse you for the cost of replacing a damaged item with one of similar type and quality.

You can usually decide what type of coverage you want when you buy a policy. However, if you choose replacement cost coverage, your policy premium may increase.

Tornado Insurance Types of Insurances

How Much Does Tornado Insurance Cost?

As we said before, standard homeowners insurance covers wind damage. However, if you live in a tornado zone where high winds are common, your insurer may require you to get windstorm insurance as an add-on rider to your standard homeowners insurance. It will be an additional cost on top of homeowners insurance and the price varies geographically.

Tips to Prepare your Home in the Event of a Tornado

First and foremost, you should know the difference between tornado watches and warnings. Tornado watches are issued by the National Weather Service and means weather conditions are favorable for a tornado. Meanwhile a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted. However, you should learn how to spot suspicious weather on your own in case you need to. Warning signs include dark greenish clouds, large hail, and a loud roar.

To protect your home against a tornado:

  • You should first, review your homeowners insurance annually to make sure you have proper coverage for your region.
  • Then, during tornado season, stay alert and listen to local news about tornado warnings.
  • Furthermore, if you don’t have a basement or live in a mobile home, have an evacuation plan. Plan where to meet and what time ahead of a disaster. Be sure that every family member is aware and well informed on the plan.
  • Last but certainly not least, have a small bag with medication, food, flashlight, and batteries for at least three days in your basement or emergency shelter.

Tornado Insurance Tornado Damage

What to Do if You Experience Tornado Damage and Have to File a Tornado Insurance Claim?

After experiencing a tornado disaster, you should make sure you stay in touch with your homeowners insurance company. First, to let them know what’s going on at your home and second, to follow up with any claims or so. Take the following steps when submitting insurance claims:

  • Contact the insurance carrier to file a claim as soon as possible. If you’re a renter, make a point to notify your landlord as well.
  • Afterwards, take pictures and videos of the damage before disposal and cleanup.
  • To mitigate damage is an equally important part of the claims process. If your home isn’t completely destroyed, make a point to make temporary repairs to protect the undamaged areas from further damage. Most of the time insurers offer reimbursement for these fixes.
  • Beware of price-gouging contractors and door-to-door scammers. Sometimes, after local natural disasters, these are quite common. Once you do get to the part of your claim where you need to work with a contractor, ask contractors for their license and insurance credentials to avoid fraud. Meanwhile, if you’re a renter, your landlord is responsible for the building and structure.
  • Hire a public adjuster to help with your tornado insurance claim today. Public adjusters are insurance experts that work for you rather than the insurance company. Therefore, they will work hard to maximize your claim and assure you are treated fairly by your insurer.
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