I’ve lived in Florida for my entire life (just five minutes from the beach), so I know all too well how much damage a hurricane can cause to a home, car, or other personal property.
In just a few short hours, a hurricane can cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to each family that happens to live along its path. And without proper insurance, families in the hurricane’s path have difficulty rebuilding and replacing their home and belongings.
But the good news is that it is possible to properly protect yourself financially from hurricane damage. Keep reading to learn how to find the best insurance when you live in a hurricane-prone state.
Table of Contents:
How To Find the Best Hurricane Insurance for Your Car
Unlike homeowner’s hurricane insurance, which I’ll cover next, protecting your car from hurricane damage is fairly simple. The best hurricane insurance for your car is simply a standard policy that includes comprehensive coverage.
Hurricane protection isn’t the only reason to add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy. As its name implies, comprehensive coverage covers literally every type of loss that’s not related to an accident. Events covered by comprehensive car insurance policies include things like:
- Damage from branches or uprooted trees
- Vehicle capsizing due to strong winds
- Damage from wind-thrown projectiles
- Mechanical damage or corrosion caused by water exposure
Most car insurance policies will only pay up to your car’s current value. For example, if you paid $18,000 for your vehicle two years ago, but it was worth $13,000 when it was totaled, you’ll only receive $13,000 minus the cost of your deductible as a claim’s payout after a hurricane. So if you have an old car, you’ll want to consider if the potential payout of a comprehensive policy is worth the increase in premiums.
Many car insurers dropped their rates in response to new driving habits brought on by the pandemic. So it’s never been a better time to shop around for a new policy. See our full list of the best car insurance companies.
How To Find the Best Hurricane Insurance for Your Home
For most of us, our most valuable possession is our home. If you live in a state that’s prone to hurricanes, there’s a much higher chance that your home could withstand significant damage in a given year or be fully destroyed.
The good news is that most home insurance plans include hurricane coverage as “windstorms” and are a covered event on HO-1, HO-2, HO-3, and HO-5 policies. However, in some states, you may be required to buy a separate windstorm policy.
Insurance companies know that it’s riskier to insure homes in hurricane states. So there’s a strong chance that you’ll have higher premiums and may have to pay extra money out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in. Here’s how to find the best coverage.
Ask About Hurricane Deductibles
While hurricanes are covered under most home insurance policies, they will often have their own separate deductible. As you’re shopping for home insurance, you’ll want to ask each company if they have a hurricane deductible and how it’s structured.
A standard home insurance deductible is a flat amount, like $500 or $1,000. But hurricane deductibles are usually a percentage (typically 1% to 5%) of the insured value of your home.
Imagine that the insured value of your home is $200,000 and you have a 1% hurricane deductible. In that case, you’d have to pay $2,000 in hurricane damages before your insurance coverage would begin to pay out.
However, if you have a 5% hurricane deductible, your insurance won’t kick in until you’ve paid $10,000 out-of-pocket. That’s a big difference.
Choosing a plan with a higher hurricane deductible could help you lower your premiums. But you should never select a deductible amount that’s higher than you have stashed away in your emergency savings.
Consider Buying a Separate Flood Insurance Policy
Most home insurance policies only cover wind damage caused by a hurricane, but not flood damage. This is a huge deal. If you live in a low-lying area or in a neighborhood close enough to the beach that storm surge is a threat, flooding could be your biggest hurricane-related concern.
That’s why if you live in a flood zone (like me), you’ll be required to buy flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance policy. But I recommend that everyone who lives in a hurricane-prone state get flood insurance, regardless of where they live.
Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, a strong storm could seriously damage your roof. And what does a damaged (or fully blown off) roof lead to? Flooding. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to have a home insurance policy that will pay to replace the roof if you don’t also have insurance that will cover the inevitable flood damages.
The good news is that the federal government itself provides flood insurance policies that can be purchased from most home insurance companies. These NFIP policies provide up to $250,000 of coverage for your home’s structure and up to $100,000 for its contents.
Need more coverage than that? Some private companies offer “first-dollar” excess flood insurance policies. Ask your insurer about its flood insurance options.
Know the Benefits of Replacement Cost Coverage
There are two main types of home insurance coverage. Actual cash value coverage will only pay out what your home or possessions are worth today, after accounting for depreciation. Replacement cost coverage, on the other hand, will pay you what it would cost to replace your insured property in today’s dollars. See a full comparison of both insurance types.
For example, with an actual cost value plan, your insurer may only pay $200 for your eight year old refrigerator. But with a replacement cost plan, you’d be paid what it would cost to buy a refrigerator of equal value today, which could be $1,000 or more.
The good news is that all HO3 policies (which are the most common and may be your lender’s minimum requirement), come with replacement cost coverage for your home itself. But you typically need to buy an HO5 policy to get replacement cost coverage for your stuff (i.e., furniture, appliances, jewelry, etc.)
However, you’ll want to pay attention as you’re shopping around because some insurers are more generous than others. For example, Lemonade includes replacement cost coverage for personal property in its standard plans. So Lemonade customers can get this HO5 benefit with only an HO3 policy. Learn more about Lemonade.
Don’t Wait to Shop for Hurricane Insurance
If you wait until a hurricane is on its way to buy insurance, there’s a strong chance that you won’t be able to purchase coverage. Many insurers stop selling new car and home policies altogether once a hurricane watch has been issued for your area.
Federal flood insurance has a waiting period of 30 days. And, in general, it takes time to get a home insurance policy in place because the insurer will need to fully evaluate your home’s risk.
For these reasons, the best time to begin shopping for hurricane insurance for your home and car is now. Ready to start the process? Compare dozens of insurers in minutes by using an online marketplace like Gabi or Policygenius. The benefit of a marketplace is that you don’t have to spend hours calling different companies – they do all the work for you, so you can get the best policy for your needs.
If you live in an area with hurricanes, check to see what type of hurricane deductible is included in your policy–and if it’s more than you have in your emergency fund, either save up or switch your policy. Plus, look into getting flood insurance. Make sure you understand the difference between cash value and replacement cost coverage so there won’t be any surprises if you ever have to file a claim. And don’t wait to do this – hurricane season has already started and you want to make sure you’re covered.