Wind damage causes a staggering amount of home insurance claims every year. Thankfully, damage caused by a wind-driven storm is usually covered by homeowners insurance. The extent to which your policy covers wind damage depends on a few different factors, which we'll detail below.
This article covers:
What is considered wind damage?
Wind damage is one of the perils that a standard homeowners insurance plan typically covers. Wind damage can be caused by different types of weather events, including:
- Winter storms
When does homeowners insurance cover wind damage?
Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home from wind damage, generally speaking. That includes the roof, siding and windows. It also covers other structures such as the fence, gazebo or shed.
Roof coverage is an extremely important part of a home insurance policy. Most policies cover roofs against wind damage. However, the extent of coverage depends on the age of the roof and the type of policy you have. Two coverage types for a home insurance policy are actual cash value and replacement cost.
If you have actual cash value (ACV) coverage, your payout after a claim is based on the material type and remaining life of your roof when it was damaged by wind.
Say, for example, your roof shingles are rated for 30 years and they were installed 20 years ago. The actual cash value of your roof is based on their remaining 10-year lifespan. This also assumes the shingles are in the average expected condition for their age.
With replacement cost coverage, your insurer pays for complete roof repair once you've paid your deductible. This type of coverage does not factor in any decrease in value due to age.
Siding and windows
Wind coverage to the exterior of your home depends on the type of siding you have. Vinyl and aluminum are two of the more popular siding options today. Your homeowners insurance will likely cover vinyl, metal and other kinds of siding due to wind damage.
If your windows are broken by heavy wind, your homeowners insurance should cover them, too.
Your homeowners insurance should cover all structures on your property from wind damage as well. This includes your garage, shed or gazebo. How much of it is covered depends on your policy limit. External structures are covered under the Coverage B section of your policy.
If wind knocks down or damages your fence, you're covered to the limits of your policy. Check the "other structures" coverage noted in your policy. This will let you know to what degree your fence is covered. The average capped percentage for other structures protection is usually about 10%. This means that if you have $350,000 in structure coverage, your other structures coverage will max out at $35,000.
If your personal property is damaged due to wind, your home insurance policy will cover your belongings. Your coverage protects furniture, clothing, appliances and more.
Loss of use
If your home is unlivable due to wind damage, the loss of use coverage that is included in a standard home insurance policy can help pay your additional living expenses while your home is being repaired.
What damage isn't covered in my homeowners policy?
There are conditions under which your homeowners insurance will not cover a wind damage claim:
- A roof past its date will result in a claim denial. As a result, there would be zero payout. Although it can be a hefty cost, making sure your roof is up to date is well worth the investment.
- A branch breaking your window during a storm would be covered by your home insurance policy. But if the window has weak seals and water seeps in and damages the pane, that falls under wear and tear and is not covered.
- If you live in certain parts of Texas, wind coverage is non-standard in homeowners policies. In some areas, insurers require a separate charge to cover wind damage. Homeowners in certain Texas counties have to acquire wind coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
- In Florida, insurers may exclude wind coverage in high-risk areas. However, you can still get coverage through the Citizens Property Insurance Corporation.
Hurricane and windstorm deductible
If you file a wind-related claim, you may have to pay a separate deductible, which is generally higher than a typical deductible. The deductible is typically between 1% and 5% of your home's insured value. There are 19 states and the District of Columbia that have hurricane deductibles in their home insurance policies.
How to file a wind insurance claim
Before you file a claim for wind damage, you should know your insurer's requirements for filing a claim. Every insurance company has different requirements for claims. Yours can be found by reading your policy or your insurer's website, or speaking with your agent. Filing a claim can raise your rates, so you don't want to file a claim that will get denied.
You should document any damage with photos and videos. For future claims, we recommend taking pictures of your home before a storm happens. Having an inventory of your possessions beforehand can be valuable in cases like this.
If any repairs need to be done now to prevent further damage, let your agent know and get them taken care of. You shouldn't start any major repairs until you have spoken to your insurance agent. Make sure to save all receipts for the repairs, as they'll be part of the final settlement.
Wind damage prevention
As a homeowner, it's in your best interest to prevent wind and other damage from the elements before it happens. Here are some suggestions to reduce your chance of having to file a claim:
- Make sure your roof can handle extreme winds. Get your roof inspected by a licensed contractor who can advise on any immediate repairs that need doing. Replace old and broken shingles.
- Trim trees and remove dead branches.
- Anchor loose possessions (furniture, yard tools, trash cans) that can damage your home if wind knocks them into it. Also, get rid of loose rocks and debris in your yard.
- If you live in an area prone to extreme storms, invest in storm shutters to protect your windows.
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