It’ll Huff & Puff & Blow Your House Down
When it comes to protecting your home from the forces of nature, having the right insurance coverage is essential. One type of insurance that homeowners on the Mississippi gulf coast and high-risk regions should consider is wind insurance. Wind insurance, also known as windstorm insurance or wind and hail coverage, provides financial protection against property damage caused by windstorms, hurricanes, and hail. Let’s explore the ins and outs of wind insurance, including what it covers, how it works, and how you can save money on your premiums.
What is it?
Wind insurance is a specialized property insurance that specifically covers damages caused by windstorms, hurricanes, and hail. It is typically offered as a separate policy in coastal states and areas prone to severe weather conditions. In some cases, wind insurance can be added as an endorsement or rider to an existing homeowners insurance policy.
Different Types of Wind Insurance
Wind insurance goes by various names, including windstorm insurance, wind and hail coverage, named storm insurance, or hurricane coverage. Regardless of the term, the purpose remains the same – to protect homeowners from the financial burden of wind-related damages.
Wind Insurance Deductibles
One important aspect to consider when purchasing any insurance is the deductible. A deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. In the case of wind insurance, deductibles are typically percentage-based. For example, if your home is insured for $200,000 and your wind insurance deductible is 5%, your deductible amount would be $10,000.
What Does Wind Insurance Cover?
Wind insurance covers a range of damages caused by windstorms, hurricanes, and hail. Here are the main types of coverage typically included in a wind insurance policy:
Dwelling coverage protects the structure of your home and any attached structures, such as a garage or patio. It covers repairs or rebuilding costs for wind damage, including roof, walls, windows, and foundation damage.
If you add on to your home or make significant renovations like remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, you should definitely update your insurance agent. Your agent needs to know so your home’s new, increased value is reflected in your homeowners insurance policy. If not, your insurance coverage could be lower than you need if there’s a catastrophe and you need to rebuild all or part of your home.
Personal Property Coverage
Personal property coverage reimburses you for the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings that are damaged by wind, such as furniture, appliances, electronics, and clothing. It’s best to keep an inventory of your belongings and their estimated value to ensure adequate coverage.
Just like significant improvements to the structure of your home, if you acquire expensive property like artwork, firearms, or high-end electronics, you should make sure your insurance covers that. If you don’t let your insurance agent know you have more valuables, they can’t ensure you’re adequately covered.
Other Structures Coverage
Other structures coverage extends protection to detached structures on your property, such as a shed, fence, or detached garage. If these structures are damaged by wind, your wind insurance policy will cover the cost of repairs or rebuilding.
Loss of Use Coverage
Loss of use coverage provides financial assistance if your home becomes uninhabitable due to wind damage. It helps cover additional living expenses, such as hotel costs, meals, and transportation while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.
Additional Living Expenses Coverage
Additional living expenses coverage reimburses you for the cost of temporary accommodations if you can’t live in your home due to wind damage. This coverage can help with rent, utilities, and storage fees.
It’s important to note that wind insurance typically does not cover flood damage. If you live in a flood-prone area, purchase a separate flood insurance policy to ensure complete protection.
Filing a Wind Insurance Claim
When it comes to filing a wind insurance claim, there are certain steps you should take to ensure a smooth and successful process. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the claims process:
- Document the Storm: Record the date of the windstorm and save any news articles or reports about the event as proof of its occurrence.
- Assess the Damage: Inspect your property and document all visible damages caused by the windstorm. Take pictures or videos to provide visual evidence of the destruction.
- Obtain Written Estimates: Seek the expertise of at least two reputable contractors who can assess the extent of the damages and provide written estimates for repairs.
- Contact Your Insurance Carrier: Reach out to the claims department of your insurance carrier and provide them with all the information you have gathered, including the storm documentation and repair estimates.
- Request a Claims Adjuster Visit: Ask for a visit from a claims adjuster who will assess the damages firsthand and determine the coverage and payout amount. Contractors will often handle working with your claims adjuster.
- Be Present During the Inspection: To ensure a fair assessment, consider having one of the contractors you previously consulted accompany the insurance adjuster during the inspection.
- Appeal if Necessary: If your claim is denied or you are unsatisfied with the assessment, you have the right to request another evaluation. Policyholders are often entitled to meet with multiple insurance adjusters to ensure a fair outcome.
Saving Money on Wind Insurance
Wind insurance premiums can vary depending on factors such as your location, the age and condition of your home, and the level of coverage you choose. Here are some tips to help you save money on your wind insurance premiums:
Many insurance companies offer discounts for specific home upgrades that can better protect your property from wind damage. Consider fortifying your home by using FORTIFIED standards, reinforcing your roof, or installing impact-resistant windows and doors. These improvements can make your home less susceptible to wind-related damages and potentially lower your premiums.
In some cases, increasing your wind insurance deductible can lead to lower premiums. However, it is essential to ensure that you can comfortably afford the higher out-of-pocket expenses in case of a claim.
Your insurance agent can shop around and compare quotes from multiple insurance companies for you. Each insurer may have different rates and discounts available, so it’s worth exploring your options to find the most affordable coverage.
Maintain a Good Credit Score
Maintaining a good credit score can positively impact all of your insurance premiums. Insurance companies often consider credit scores an indicator of risk. They may offer lower rates to policyholders with higher credit scores.
Wind insurance is a crucial protection for homeowners living in areas prone to windstorms, hurricanes, and hail. By understanding what wind insurance covers, how it works, and how to save money on premiums, you can ensure that your home and belongings are adequately protected. Work closely with your insurance agent to review your policy, assess your coverage needs, and explore options from different insurers to find the best wind insurance policy for your specific circumstances. With the right coverage in place, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is safeguarded against the unpredictable forces of nature.