Windstorms are weather events that produce strong winds and violent gusts accompanied by very little or no precipitation. Hurricanes, cyclones, derechos and tornados are often classified as windstorms as are any events that include heavy winds strong enough to cause significant property damage. Many states have provisions for windstorm insurance riders that can be purchased by homeowners to cover damage to property and personal belongings.
- Windstorms can have wind speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour
- Heavy winds cause about $1 billion in damages in the United States every year
- Approximately 85% of all windstorm-related insurance claims are due to roof damage
What Is Windstorm Insurance?
Windstorm insurance is a special type of property and casualty insurance designed to cover damages caused by high winds. Windstorm insurance may cover damages from hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, hail and other weather events that are accompanied by wind gusts that exceed 35 miles per hour.
In some cases, homeowners insurance policies will cover damages caused by heavy winds, but in many states where wind damage is common, insurance companies may require homeowners to purchase a separate windstorm insurance rider to provide coverage for damages. It is very important that you are aware of what is and what is not covered by your homeowners policy.
What Does Windstorm Insurance Cover?
Windstorm insurance will typically cover damages to your home and personal belongings inside your home. Many policies will also include coverage for detached structures such as garages, sheds and even swimming pools. When gale force winds harm roofs and windows, this often creates the opportunity for rain and debris to cause additional damage. Most policies will cover the repairs as long as you file the claim soon after the event.
Sometimes, windstorms are followed by storm surges and flooding. It is important to realize that windstorm insurance will not cover damage caused by rising waters. Flood insurance coverage must be purchased separately to cover flooding events, and takes 30 days to go into effect.
Windstorm insurance will not cover damages to your vehicle that may occur if a tree falls on it or if it is damaged by blowing debris. You must have a comprehensive car or truck insurance policy in place to cover this sort of damage.
Insurance Claim Tips Following a Storm with Heavy Winds
If you should ever need to file a claim for damages caused by a windstorm, there are steps you can take to ensure that you get the coverage to which you are entitled. The most important thing to remember is to act quickly. Many policies limit the time frame in which you can file a claim for storm damage. Often this is because failure to fix the problems can lead to more damage later.
Immediately after a windstorm, It's a good idea to take the following steps:
- Record the date of the storm and save news articles about the storm as proof.
- Assess and record all damage that you see from the ground; take pictures and/or video.
- Have at least two reputable contractors inspect your property, especially your roof, for damages. Get written repair estimates from each.
- Contact the claims department of your insurance carrier, provide all information you have gathered and request a visit from a claims adjuster.
- Ask one of your contractors to be present during the insurance adjuster’s inspection to ensure that you receive a fair assessment.
- If your claim is denied, remember that you are entitled to meet with three different insurance adjusters. Request another evaluation.
How to Find Windstorm Coverage
When it comes to windstorm insurance coverage, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Coverage options vary by location and insurance carrier. While one insurance company may require specific insurance for hurricanes, another may include it in a windstorm policy, while yet another may include it in the basic homeowners policy.
With so many different options and requirements, how do you know if you are actually covered for the storm damage that may affect you? Or, is it possible you are spending too much by purchasing insurance for something that is already covered in another policy?
The fact of the matter is, insurance is something that needs to be researched.
As a consumer, it's important that you understand what is in your current homeowners policy, and what isn't.
If you find your coverage inadequate, take time to shop for a few different options from reputable insurance companies. Find a solution that's going to work for you and your family, and that will fully cover your risks, no matter what weather comes your way.