Insurance is our defender against the unexpected. When something happens to our home or belongings, whether it be fire or theft, home insurance helps cover the cost—so we can get back to living normally.
But if you live in Florida, you know that hurricanes are one of the biggest threats to your home in the state. And as we enter our standard 6-month long hurricane season, it’s important to ensure your home has the proper protections in place.
So, can insurance protect against hurricanes?
The fast answer: Yes! If you prepare correctly.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you should know about hurricane insurance in Florida, including:
- What Is Hurricane Insurance?
- How Do Hurricane Deductibles Work?
- Is Hurricane Insurance Required in Florida, and Do You Need It?
- When Should You Get Hurricane Coverage?
- What Does Hurricane Insurance Cover in Florida?
- What Does Hurricane Insurance Not Cover?
- How Much Is Hurricane Insurance?
- Tips for Buying Hurricane Insurance
- How Much Hurricane Coverage You Need
- How to File a Claim After a Hurricane Hits
- And Other Hurricane FAQs
Let’s get to it.
What Is Hurricane Insurance?
The term “hurricane insurance” is misleading because you can’t actually buy a hurricane insurance policy. What you can do is buy insurance coverage for the types of damage caused by a hurricane: flooding and wind damage.
Flood Damage Coverage
Most home insurance policies don’t cover floods or storm surge, so to protect against flood damage during a hurricane, you’ll want to get flood insurance. This is especially important if you live in or are moving to a flood zone.
Windstorm Damage Coverage
On the bright side, most home insurance policies in Florida do cover wind damage for hurricanes, so if you have a home insurance policy, chances are you already have wind damage coverage.
Florida statute 627.4025 defines hurricane coverage under your home insurance policy as:
“Coverage for loss or damage caused by the peril of windstorm during a hurricane. The term includes ensuing damage to the interior of a building, or to property inside a building, caused by rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand, or dust if the direct force of the windstorm first damages the building, causing an opening through which rain, snow, sleet, hail, sand, or dust enters and causes damage.”
It also defines a windstorm as:
“Wind, wind gusts, hail, rain, tornadoes, or cyclones caused by or resulting from a hurricane which results in direct physical loss or damage to property.”
However, because hurricanes can cause so much damage, states where hurricanes are more likely to occur—like Florida—require a separate deductible for hurricane damage.
What does this mean?
Your deductible is the amount you pay for a claim before your home insurance kicks in. Your standard deductible is called an AOP deductible (all other peril deductible) because it applies to all other perils, like lightning, theft, or wind during a regular storm.
But when you make a claim due to wind damage caused by a hurricane, you have to pay your hurricane deductible instead.
If you’re unsure whether your home insurance has hurricane wind coverage or a hurricane deductible, check your declarations page. The declarations page is the first page of your insurance policy and contains all of your essential policy information, like coverage limits, deductibles, and more. Evaluate this page to see if you need to upgrade your hurricane coverage.
How Do Hurricane Deductibles Work?
Although your hurricane deductible is separate from your AOP deductible, it works similarly. If a tree falls through your roof due to wind damage during a hurricane, you’ll pay your hurricane deductible, and then your insurance provider will cover the rest.
Your hurricane deductible only applies if the storm that causes the damage is a named hurricane by the National Weather Service, like Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Katrina. Otherwise, your AOP deductible will apply.
To learn more about when hurricane deductibles apply, how they work when there’s more than one hurricane claim a year, and more, check out Understanding Your Florida Hurricane Deductible.
Is Hurricane Insurance Required in Florida, and Do I Need It?
If you have a mortgage on a Florida property, you are required to have windstorm insurance for hurricanes. Fortunately, this is super easy to do since it’s automatically bundled into your home insurance policy.
That said, if you really want, you can exclude hurricane coverage by sending your insurance provider the following statement in handwriting: “I do not want the insurance on my (home/mobile home/condominium unit) to pay for damage from windstorms. I will pay those costs. My insurance will not.” To remove this coverage legally, your lien holder (if you have one) and the mortgage holder (if it’s not you) must also consent.
While removing hurricane coverage will lower your home insurance rate, it’s not recommended. It’s very risky, especially in Florida, and you could end up having to pay to fix hurricane damage out of pocket.
How much does it cost to repair hurricane damage on average?
The most common home insurance claim is Wind and Hail claims due to storms, and repairs cost $11,695 on average. But if your home is more severely damaged, you could end up paying hundreds of thousands without insurance to back you up.
When Should I Get Hurricane Coverage?
For insurance to work, you must have it before something bad happens. Unfortunately, since insurance protects against the unexpected, it’s impossible to know when that bad thing could happen. As a result, the best time to get insurance is always as soon as you purchase your home.
On the other hand, if you already have hurricane coverage and are considering switching providers or upgrading your policy, the best time is before the Florida hurricane season, which runs from June 1st to November 30th.
It’s even more crucial to ensure you have the proper coverage in advance because insurance companies put temporary holds or restrictions on the ability to buy or update insurance as soon as a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning is issued. This prevents everyone from waiting until a storm is announced to run out and buy hurricane coverage.
What Does Hurricane Insurance Cover in Florida?
Hurricane insurance covers your home, other structures, belongings, and additional living expenses in the event of hurricane damage. This means it will help with:
Your home: Repairing or replacing your home’s foundation, floors, walls, roof, and built-in appliances.
Your other structures: Repairing or replacing certain other structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house, like a detached garage.
Your belongings: Replacing furniture, decor, clothing, electronics, and other belongings.
Temporary living expenses: Helping you pay for extra expenses if your home becomes unlivable for a time, including a place to stay, eating out, pet boarding, storage units for possessions, and even extra gas money for longer drives.
With some home insurance providers, including OpenHouse, you can add special coverage for your screened enclosure or in-ground swimming pool.
How Much Is Hurricane Insurance?
The good news is that because hurricane wind coverage is included in your home insurance, the cost is also already included in your home insurance premium. (Your premium is the amount you pay for insurance, either through installments or annually.)
However, factors that increase the chance of your home getting damaged or increase its rebuilding cost will increase your premium. For example, being near the Atlantic coast increases the likelihood of hurricane damage and, therefore, your premium. The same goes for your home’s construction type and age.
Fortunately, you can also usually decrease your premium by taking measures to make your home safer, like installing wind shutters.
Beyond your premium, the only other hurricane insurance cost is your separate deductible. Whereas your AOP deductible is a flat fee, hurricane deductibles are most commonly a percentage of the cost to rebuild your home. The actual options you can choose from depend on state requirements.
In Florida, the law requires insurers to offer hurricane deductible options of $500, 2%, 5%, or 10% for homes insured up to $250,000. If your home is insured for $250,000 or more, the required options are 2%, 5%, and 10%.
In practice, this looks like so:
- A $250,000 house with a 2% deductible has a deductible of $5,000.
- A $250,000 house with a 5% deductible has a deductible of $12,500.
- A $250,000 house with a 10% deductible has a deductible of $25,000.
With OpenHouse home insurance, you receive more deductible options, including percentage deductibles of 2%, 3%, 5% and 10%, as well as fixed deductibles of $1,000, $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000.
So, How Much Extra Is Hurricane Insurance in Florida?
The average home insurance premium in Florida is $1,988 a year, and the average flood insurance premium in Florida is $570 a year. This adds to an average of $2,558 a year to cover a home for all perils, including hurricane damage.
But, it’s important to remember that this amount varies widely depending on exactly where you live in Florida, the specific details of your home, and your preferences—like how much or how little protection you feel comfortable with.
Tips for Buying Hurricane Insurance
If you’re buying hurricane coverage for the first time or verifying your policy details before the hurricane season gets into full swing, there are four tips to keep in mind to best protect your home and family.
- Choose a reasonable deductible: Selecting a higher deductible will lower your premium, but make sure you have enough money to pay that deductible—without breaking the bank—if the time comes. Otherwise, you’ll save money now but could go into debt later.
- Purchase insurance immediately: Remember that the sooner you’re insured, the sooner you’ll have the protection you need if the unexpected happens. If you wait too long into hurricane season, holds can make it harder to get insured. Additionally, some insurance providers won’t insure your home if you’ve gone without coverage for a significant amount of time.
- Protect your home in advance: Buy the tools you need to protect your home from a hurricane in advance (like hurricane shutters), and prepare your home when a hurricane watch is announced. Protecting your home reduces the chance of severe damage and can earn you savings on your premium.
With OpenHouse insurance, for example, having hurricane shutters, certain roof-deck attachments, certain roof coverings and underlayments, and impact-resistant glass on doors and windows can all lower your premium.
We also suggest getting a windstorm mitigation inspection. The inspection will reveal your home’s strengths and weaknesses in a storm and advise you on how to best protect it.
- Get as much coverage as you need: Make sure you choose a home insurance policy that provides as much coverage as you need to appropriately protect your home and family (more on this below). If you already have insurance, review your policy to see if you have enough coverage prepared or if it’s time for an update.
How Much Hurricane Coverage Do I Need?
As you evaluate your home insurance for the hurricane season, you’ll want to ensure you have the right coverages in place and the coverage limits that you need.
Coverage is the type of damage your insurance will help fix or replace (like hurricane windstorm coverage for your home, other structures, and belongings). Your coverage limits are the monetary amounts you’re covered up to. For instance, if the cost to repair your home is set to a coverage limit of $200,000, and a hurricane demolishes it, you’ll only receive up to $200,000 from your insurer.
You should have enough coverage in place to cover your worst-case scenario. If the cost to replace your home would be $450,000, you probably want your limit to be $450,000 in case your home is destroyed.
Before hurricane season, check your limits for the following types of coverage to ensure you have enough protection in place.
Cost to rebuild home: As discussed above, this limit should be set to the total amount it would cost to rebuild your home from the ground up. This amount is not the same as the market value of your home or the amount you paid for it. Instead, this is a reconstruction cost estimate and depends on factors like building materials, style, and size.
Other structures: Similarly to your home, you’ll want to ensure your other structures limit is enough to replace your covered structures if they’re wiped out.
Belongings and additional valuable items: Your home insurance also protects your belongings if they are damaged or lost in a storm. To ensure you have the proper coverage for these, we recommend doing a home inventory of everything you own and what it’s worth. Your inventory will reveal how high your coverage limit should be to protect the items that matter to you. Having a home inventory will also help speed up the claim process.
Temporary living expenses: Lastly, make sure your temporary living expenses limit is enough to cover your entire family if your home is unlivable. This amount will increase if you have children or pets.
How to File a Claim After a Hurricane Hits
If your home is damaged during a hurricane and you need to file a claim, it’s important to file as soon as possible. Further damage may make itself known months later, in which case it’s important to have the initial damage reported.
Take these steps to make your claims process as smooth as possible:
- Contact the insurance company and file immediately: The sooner you can file your claim and alert your insurer, the better. After a large storm, they will likely be busy, and this can help you get a head start. To file a claim with OpenHouse, simply log into your account, click “Report Claim,” and tell us about the damage.
- Document the damage: After the hurricane has passed and it’s safe to enter your home, take photos and videos to document everything. (Yes, everything; the damage you see right away may not be all there is). Do this before cleaning or making minor repairs, so your insurer can accurately assess the severity of the damage.
- Make temporary repairs: After documenting everything, follow through with essential repairs to prevent further damage or safety hazards—even if they are temporary fixes. Your insurance provider expects you to make reasonable attempts to prevent further damage. You can document your repairs and keep receipts to contribute to your deductible or receive reimbursement later.
- Document temporary living expenses: If you had to evacuate your home before, during, or after the hurricane, keep a record of all your expenses, including hotel stays, gas mileage, and restaurant receipts. You will need proof of your costs to receive reimbursement. However, keep in mind that these should be reasonable—they won’t cover excessively expensive hotels or fine dining.
- Expect a visit from an adjuster: Hurricane-related claims often require a visit from an insurance adjuster to evaluate the damage to your property before your insurer can pay you.
Other Hurricane FAQs
To recap: Is there such a thing as hurricane insurance?
No, but you can get windstorm insurance and flood insurance to cover all damage from a hurricane. Windstorm insurance is typically included in your home insurance policy.
Does my hurricane deductible apply to tropical storm damage?
It depends on state law. In Florida, the hurricane deductible is only applicable when the damage results from a hurricane declared by the National Weather Service. Thus, tropical storm damage does not apply.
Can I make temporary repairs to my home?
Once it’s safe, it is recommended to make repairs to prevent further damage. Most insurers require you to take reasonable preventive measures and will reimburse you if you document them.
If I evacuate, are evacuation expenses covered?
Costs related to evacuation are typically covered if there is damage to your property or authorities enact a mandatory evacuation order. Still, it is best to contact your insurer to confirm your policy details.
Is wind coverage the same as hurricane coverage?
Not always. In Florida, wind damage from a storm that’s not a hurricane is covered after you pay your standard “all other perils” deductible, but wind damage from a hurricane is covered after you pay your hurricane deductible.
Does flood insurance cover hurricanes?
Yes, flood insurance covers flooding and storm surge damage from hurricanes.
Does hurricane insurance cover the removal of fallen trees or service poles?
Generally, your home insurance will cover the removal of fallen trees and service poles if they fell due to a hurricane and have damaged your home. They are not usually covered if they fall into your yard without damaging your home.
How long after a hurricane can I file a claim in Florida?
If you know you have a claim, it’s crucial to file it as soon as possible. The sooner you report it, the easier the claims process will be.
Is it possible to lower my premium?
It’s possible to lower your premium in two ways. One way is to choose a higher deductible. If you aren’t comfortable with or can’t afford a higher deductible, you can still lower your premium with OpenHouse’s 25 different lifestyle rewards.