Is your home covered for wind damage? How much of it will your homeowners policy cover? Read on to find out.
Wind causes a staggering amount of home insurance claims. The III reports that State Farm alone spent $2.4 billion on wind and hail claims in 2014. Fortunately, wind damage is one of the perils that a standard home owners insurance plan covers. The extent to which your home insurance covers your wind damage depends on a few different things.
This article touches on those scenarios, and more.
Wind is dangerous on its own. So too is the damage that can follow it – whether it’s a downed power line or a falling tree limb. Fortunately, a normal homeowners policy covers standard wind damage to your home.
Homeowners insurance covers the structure of your home. That includes the roof, siding, and windows. It also normally covers other structures such as the fence, a gazebo, or a shed.
Your roof 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.
The two main coverage types are Actual Cash Value and Replacement Cash Value.
If you have ACV coverage, your payout after a claim is based on the material type and remaining life of your roof when it was wind damaged.
Say, for example, your roof shingles are rated for 30 years. They were installed 20 years old ago. The actual cash value of your roof is based on their remaining 10-year lifespan. This also assumes the shingles are in their average expected condition for their age.
It’s good to know the age of your roof for times like this. If the age is unknown, your insurer will estimate it. The age of the roof can be found on the real estate disclosure form from your purchase of the house.
A roof past its rating date will result in a claim denial because it's past its expiration date. As a result, there would be zero payout. The insurer will argue that the wind damage occurred because the roof was in bad condition.
With RCV coverage, your insurer pays out 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.
Let’s use the 20-year-old roof from above to illustrate the difference. With ACV coverage, out-of-pocket cost is the deductible plus whatever isn't paid out due to depreciation. With RCV, all you pay is the deductible.
If you’re not sure what type of coverage you have, look over your policy. It should outline. ACV policies are cheaper.
Wind damage 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.
A lot of people go with vinyl siding is because it’s durable and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. However, just because they’re durable doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable. A hard wind can cause cracks, chips and other damage to vinyl siding. In extreme cases, whole panels can be torn off.
This type of repair/replacement is covered under your homeowner’s policy.
A wind storm can dent aluminum siding. If the wind is strong enough, whole pieces of aluminum can be completely dislodged and sent flying.
Damage to aluminum siding is almost always covered by insurance. The caveats to this are usually just a specific rider or added exclusion clause. The exclusion would be listed in your policy.
In both cases, if you only have some minor damage, such as chipped paint, you should hold off on making the claim. Chances are it wouldn’t be worth your deductible, and there would more than likely be a premium increase as well.
Your homeowner’s insurance should cover all structures on your property. This includes your garage, workshop, 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. The standard payout is a max of 10 percent of the face value of your policy. If your homeowners policy's face value is $300,000, the max payout you will get for a wind-damaged shed or garage is $30,000.
If your windows are broken by a heavy wind, your homeowners insurance should cover it. Repairing a window or window frame can cost a lot of money. According to HomeAdvisor, repairing a window costs $319 on average. If you have multiple broken windows, those costs will add up quickly. Remember: if your loss estimate is close to your deductible, you may want to avoid filing a claim.
If wind knocks down or damages your fence, you're covered to the limits of your policy. Check your “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 percent. This means that if you have $350,000 in structure coverage, your other structures coverage will max out at $35,000.
If the fence is on a boundary line between you and a neighbor, both of you might need to share the cost. If a tree falls on your fence due to wind, it is probably covered depending on if the tree is on your property or not. I say “probably” because the state of the tree can have some bearing on the payout. If the tree is on someone else’s property, your insurer may hold your neighbor accountable. If the tree is on your property and found neglected or rotting, your insurer may not pay out as much. They may even deny your claim completely.
There are conditions under which your homeowner’s insurance will not cover a wind damage claim:
Should you need to make a claim to your insurer for wind damage, you’ll want to take some steps to keep it simple. Here are some steps to take to ease the process:
As a homeowner, it’s in your best interest to prevent damage from the elements before it begins. Here are some suggestions to reduce your chances of having to file a homeowner’s claim:
A: With wind damage, homeowner’s insurance works differently from auto or medical insurance. If your house has taken damage due to wind, your insurer will look at the damage to other houses in your area. They will then assess your claim on those findings. If the wind damage affected your neighborhood, the damage would fall under an “Act of God”. Your individual rate will not increase if this is the case.
The main answer to this is “Always go local.” This can be hard after a large storm. Your local contractors are going to be up to their necks in work requests, and scheduling one can be a chore. All the same, it beats the alternative: storm chasers.
Storm chasers are out-of-area companies that will come after a damaging storm to perform repairs in the area. They then take homeowners claim payout in return for their work, then move onto the next damaged area.
The problem is storm chasers tend to do rushed, subpar repairs with low quality materials and poorly trained crews. Warranties for their work are often not offered or not honored.
Go the extra mile to find a local contractor in good standing. You can check to make sure they’re state-licensed and find out more about their reputation through the Better Business Bureau. This is also a good course of action because some storm chasers will try to present themselves as local.
A: All you need is one. After a storm time is of the essence, both for avoiding further damage and getting an available contractor. Find a reputable, local contractor who can work with your insurer and complete the work diligently.
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