Tornadoes can produce winds traveling above 300 miles per hour and hail storms. Their force can level an entire town, leaving businesses and homes in piles of rubble. The good news is that you can take several steps to keep your family safe and protect your home, including buying a homeowner’s insurance policy with sufficient coverage.
This article will detail everything about tornado insurance, including what it is and what damage the homeowner’s insurance covers.
Let’s dig in!
What is tornado insurance?
Tornado insurance is the coverage that insures you and your home against damage caused by tornadoes. A tornado may cause damage through winds and hail, although water damage can still happen.
Damage caused by hail and wind is covered under your homeowner’s insurance as an insured peril. A peril is anything that can damage your home or belongings, including fire, lightning, theft, smoke, or a storm. The type of your peril coverage depends on the kind of homeowners insurance you purchased.
If you live in a ‘Tornado Alley,’ you may need more coverage for damage due to high winds. A tornado alley is an area that consistently experiences high tornadoes. In the U.S, the Tornado Alley is the region from central Texas, central Kansas, and Nebraska to western Ohio.
Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?
Although tornadoes are more common in tornado alleys, these strong storms can happen anywhere. And as a homeowner, you may be interested to know whether the standard home insurance policy covers tornadoes.
So, does insurance cover tornado damage?
The answer is yes – most home insurance policies cover tornado damages. Unlike earthquakes or floods, tornadoes usually don’t require special insurance coverage. They are classified as windstorms, which are covered by most insurance policies.
For instance, homeowners insurance covers damage to your home and personal belongings caused by the storm, rain, wind, and debris during a tornado. If a tornado displaces you from your home, the insurance policy will also cover your additional living expenses, like hotel bills and meals. However, it’s important to note that your home insurance policy doesn’t cover water damage from flooding during a tornado.
The tornado damage homeowners coverage usually falls under four main sections of your policy, including:
It pays to rebuild or repair your home’s main structure and attached structures, like a porch or garage. For example, if a tornado hits your house’s roof, your insurance’s dwelling coverage would help you rebuild or replace it.
The insurance firm requires your policy to include enough dwelling coverage to rebuild your house in most cases. Others will need this policy to amount to at least 80% of the rebuild cost.
Other structures coverage:
This covers damage to other structures on your property, including fences, mailboxes, detached garages, sheds, etc. When a tornado hits your home, your policy will repair or replace these structures.
The amount for this policy coverage is based on your insurance for your main dwelling. Most policies limit this coverage to 10% of your main dwelling insurance. So, if you insure your main dwelling for $230,00, your policy will cover $23,000 of damage to other structures.
Personal property coverage:
This one covers damage to your personal items such as furniture, appliances, clothing, etc., in case of a tornado. Many home insurance policies will cover a depreciated value of personal property. For instance, a computer you bought for $800 may be paid for $450 – the current value.
Loss of use coverage:
If tornado damage leaves your house uninhabitable, loss of use coverage may cover expenses to live elsewhere as your home is rebuilt or repaired. For instance, the loss of use coverage may pay for hotel bills, rent, and restaurant meals.
Types of tornado damage covered by home insurance policies
Homeowners insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs, rebuilding, and replacement of personal items, provided the tornado leads to the following perils:
I. Wind and hail
Wind and hail damages are covered under standard home insurance policies. However, insurance firms in the Tornado Alley may ask for a separate windstorm policy or a coverage add-on, mainly because of the area’s susceptibility to tornadoes.
II. Wind-driven rain
The standard homeowners insurance policies cover most water damage that’s internal and sudden, such as wind-driven rain during a tornado. So, if rainwater leaks into your house through an opening on your foundation or roof caused by a tornado, the damage caused would be covered.
III. Food spoilage
The tornado may sometimes destroy the electrical infrastructure, leaving your house without power for days. In turn, this may lead to food spoilage. Standard home policies may cover spoiled food, provided the cause of the spoilage is a covered peril under your insurance policy.
Many standard homeowners insurance policies cover up to $500 in food loss caused by a tornado-induced power outage.
IV. Water and mold damage
Your standard home insurance policy should cover mold resulting from a covered peril. However, water damage won’t be covered.
V. Fallen trees
The homeowners insurance policy covers property damaged by fallen trees, provided the tree fell because of a covered peril. For instance, if a tornado uproots a tree, which then damages your home, the policy will cover the damage. However, you may not be covered if the tree was already dead before the tornado hit.
VI. Debris removal
The homeowners insurance will cover debris removal following a tornado, provided the debris includes damage to your home’s structure. Thus, the debris removal will be covered if a tree falls on your home during a tornado. However, if the tree doesn’t damage anything, you’d have to cover the bill of removing it.
Does home insurance cover damage to automobiles?
A tornado can destroy your car in a variety of ways. High-speed winds and hails can topple trees and other debris onto your can, smashing its windshields. And when such happens, you may want to know whether the homeowner’s insurance policy covers you.
Unfortunately, homeowners insurance won’t cover damages inflicted on your car. You may want to have a comprehensive auto insurance policy for such claims. This insurance type covers car losses caused by bad weather events, including tornadoes.
What to do after a tornado hits your home
When a tornado hits your home, wait until it’s safe, then assess the damage. Take pictures of the property and make a list of destroyed or lost items. Such information is key in keeping track of the damages and filing a claim.
Then, file claims by calling your insurance agency. Let the company know the damage your home or personal items have sustained. Share the collected images and videos with the company for further assistance. An adjuster will be assigned to you to help you assess and file a claim.
The bottom line
Let’s face it: only a few weather events can lead to sudden, widespread damage like a tornado. These storms can be powerful enough to destroy a whole neighborhood, from flying debris and houses lifted from their foundations to broken tree branches.
If this kind of tragedy impacts your home or neighborhood, contact UCS to inspect your damage and help you file a tornado damage insurance claim. We make sure your claim is filed correctly and comprehensively so that you get the maximum payout allowed with your coverage.