Coverage, Rates, Who Needs It


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  • Hurricanes can cause flooding and wind damage to homes, and one inch of water can cost $20,000.
  • Your mortgage company may require you to have hurricane and flood insurance, depending on your location.
  • Licensed insurance agents can help you select the right coverage to protect your home and family.

According to the National Hurricane Center, on the Atlantic coast, hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. It runs on the eastern Pacific coast from May 15 to November 30.

Hurricanes cause flooding and high winds that can damage homes. But even the best homeowners insurance policies usually won’t cover repairs. If you have a mortgage, your lender will require hurricane-specific coverage in certain states. If you pay cash for your home, an insurance professional can help you build a plan that meets your needs. After all, nobody wants to be stuck paying for six-figure home repairs alone.

For hurricane-vulnerable homes, there are two factors: wind damage and flooding. Either could destroy your home or require significant repairs. Unfortunately, if you don’t also have flood insurance, you could be left with a large bill unless FEMA steps in.

“Flooding is one of the most common and costly natural disasters in the US, and given we are in the midst of an above-average hurricane season, consumers need to ensure that they will not be left exposed if their homes are hit hard by a storm,” says Ralph Blust, CEO of the National Flood Services. NFS administers flood insurance for FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

What is hurricane insurance?

Hurricane insurance refers to the coverage necessary to cover hurricane damage. A hurricane has to be a declared event dictated by an announcement from the National Hurricane Center.

As a major natural disaster, hurricanes can do a lot of damage in select areas. Hurricane insurance offers protection in these isolated events. The coverages may mirror your homeowners insurance policy. However, keep in mind, if you don’t buy coverage for things like personal property, it would not be covered if the damage was caused by a hurricane insurance peril, even if you have extensive personal property coverage on your regular policy.

Where do homeowners need hurricane protection?

Wind and hail are commonly excluded from coverage with most homeowners policies as part of the hurricane exclusion. However, hurricane winds can be in excess of 200 miles per hour. “Most insurers require an additional high-coverage windstorm rider and separate deductible if you live near coastal areas,” according to Steve Wilson, Director of Technical Underwriting at Hippo Insurance.

Wilson says windstorm coverage is regional, usually along the gulf coast and east coast from Florida to New York. However, island residents like those in Puerto Rico or Hawaii may also be required to buy. Premiums will vary geographically.

States that may require additional windstorm coverage include:

  • 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

How is flood insurance different from home insurance and hurricane insurance?

Homeowners insurance offers protection for homeowners’ belongings and for the home itself. Unlike car insurance, homeowners insurance is not required by state law. However, your mortgage lender will require homeowners insurance to protect its investment. 

Flood, hurricane, and home insurance protect your home after different perils. It’s critical to know the difference to ensure you’re filing with the right company. However, if you work with a licensed insurance agent, they can help you with the paperwork and policy management.

Below, you’ll see when flood insurance would apply and when your homeowners insurance would kick in (with the proper riders).

    • Flood insurance is available through the NFIP and approved insurers.
    • Flood insurance claims are processed and paid by the NFIP.
    • Flood insurance may not be required unless you live in designated flood zones.

How much does hurricane insurance cost?

Homeowners required to buy hurricane coverage may have a few options:

  • Add a rider to your homeowners insurance policy with its own deductible.
  • Buy a separate hurricane policy to cover hurricane-related events (often through a specialty company).
  • If you live in a condo, verify if your master insurance policy has hurricane protection built in.

It may be easier to buy a rider if your homeowners insurer offers it. Then any claims can be filed with one company. However, if you’re working with a licensed insurance agent, you can get quotes from specialty hurricane insurance providers without any more work on your end. If you have a mortgage, your premiums will be paid through your mortgage provider in most cases. Most importantly, your insurance agent can help you file claims as necessary. 

Many times, separate hurricane policies may be cheaper and more effective than homeowners riders. However, we recommend working with an insurance professional to compare quotes.

If you live in a condo, you may still want a small policy to cover your personal property. However, in hurricane prone areas, your HOA will buy hurricane coverage as part of its master insurance policy (which covers any repairs or rebuilding of the building you live in).

Will hurricane policies cover relocation costs?

Loss of use” coverage, also known as “additional living expenses” or ALE, is included in most homeowners and renters insurance policies and provides reimbursement for temporary housing when a peril causes damage to your property or belongings that makes your home or rental unit inhabitable. It can also be included in hurricane protection. Like your personal property coverage, it is tied to each policy in an all or nothing fashion. In short, if you file a hurricane claim, you’ll only get the benefits of your hurricane policy. Your homeowners insurance coverage will only kick in if the damage was caused by a covered peril.

As such, it may be cheaper to eliminate things like loss of use coverage on the hurricane side. Some homeowners do exactly that assuming a hurricane will never happen in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake.

If you’re unsure of what constitutes “uninhabitable” or “loss of use,” we recommend speaking with your insurance agent.

Tips to prepare your home in the event of a hurricane

Hippo Homeowners Insurance‘s Wilson recommends taking the following steps:

  1. Review your homeowners insurance annually with your carrier to ensure proper coverage for your region.
  2. Have an evacuation plan on where to meet and what time ahead of a disaster and communicate that with family members.
  3. Have a small bag with medication, flashlight, and batteries for three days.
  4. Have temporary repair equipment available like a tarp.
  5. Contact your insurance agent who manages your hurricane policy (they may also manage homeowners coverage).
  6. In between hurricane season, prevent damage by doing home maintenance looking for weak points — under sinks, gutters, shingles, debris around the foundation — and signs of wear and tear.

What to do if you experience hurricane damage

After experiencing a disaster, Wilson recommends staying in touch with your hurricane insurance company to let them know what’s going on at your home and take the following steps when submitting insurance claims:

  1. Contact the insurance carrier to file a claim in a timely manner. For homeowners, your carrier may provide a list of contractors and offer advice on do-it-yourself tips to prevent further damage. If you’re a renter, you should also inform your landlord or property management company.
  2. Take pictures of the damage before disposal and cleanup.
  3. Beware of price-gouging contractors and door-to-door scammers. Ask contractors for their license and insurance credentials to avoid fraud. If you’re a renter, your landlord is responsible for the building and structure.
  4. Prevent further damage to your property.
  5. Don’t do something you’re not comfortable with/that doesn’t look safe. Homeowners insurance has a condition to prevent further loss. Focus on a temporary fix instead of something long-term so insurance can properly access a permanent fix by a professional.


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