Does homeowners insurance cover tornadoes?

Standard homeowners insurance policies can cover property damage to your home and personal belongings. If your policy covers tornadoes, windstorms will be listed under the policy's covered perils — or you may have an "all-risk" policy that covers tornado damage unless its specifically excluded. Check that your home insurance policy doesn't have a wind exclusion, which would exclude or reduce coverage for wind damage resulting from a tornado or other windstorm.

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How does home insurance cover tornado damage?

If a tornado or windstorm causes structural damage to your home, such as broken windows or missing shingles, coverage may fall under your home insurance policy's dwelling coverage (Coverage A). Dwelling coverage may help repair tornado damage to your house or replace it completely if it's destroyed as a result of a covered peril. Personal property coverage (Coverage C) may help replace personal items damaged due to the storm.

Keep in mind that some standard homeowners insurance policies might not list windstorms (and thus tornadoes) as a covered peril. Additionally, some have wind exclusions that reduce or eliminate coverage for wind damage. Check your policy thoroughly to understand its covered perils and exclusions.

If your home is unsafe or unsuitable to live in after a tornado and your policy covers tornadoes, your homeowners insurance loss of use coverage (Coverage D) may cover your cost-of-living expenses above what you'd normally spend. This may include a hotel and meals eaten out while your home is being repaired or replaced, though it may only last for a set number of days.

What about tornado property damage from trees?

If a fallen tree damages your home during a tornado, your homeowners insurance policy may cover the tornado damage — if windstorms are a covered peril and your policy doesn't have any wind exclusions. There may be exceptions, though. Suppose the tree was already rotting and general maintenance was neglected prior to the tornado that felled it. Your insurer may not cover the damage because proper care may have prevented the tree from falling.

How do I file an insurance claim for tornado damage?

If a tornado damages your home, contact your insurance company immediately. Take a home inventory with photos and videos of the damage inside and outside of your home and save all receipts for expenses incurred. All documentation of your losses should be submitted during the claims process. While some repairs may need to begin as soon as possible for your safety or to prevent further damage, you'll want to hold off on making permanent repairs until your insurance adjuster completes their inspection of the damage.

Is there a separate deductible for tornado claims?

It depends on your policy. Some policies have a separate deductible for windstorm claims, and that deductible may be higher than your policy's standard homeowners insurance deductible. Your windstorm deductible may be a set dollar amount or a percentage of one or more of your coverage limits. In either case, your insurance would pay for the covered portion of your claim, minus the deductible.

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