Wind Deductibles and Hurricane Deductibles: Coastal Home Insurance

May 22, 2019
Written by Donna Craven, CPL

As hurricane season approaches, you may be wondering how your home insurance policy protects you from wind, hail, fallen trees, extreme rain, flooding, etc. You may also be asking: do I have a wind deductible? If so, when does it apply?

These are a GREAT questions to be asking. If you need answers, we hope you’ll take a moment to ask them now… before a tree falls on your property or your shingles blow off the roof. The following FAQs offer a good start, but please don’t hesitate to call us – 508.339.2951 – for more detailed information based on your individual circumstances.

Does my home insurance cover wind, hail, storm water damage, etc.?

As long as your home/roof is properly maintained*, most Massachusetts home insurance policies DO cover damage resulting from the wind, hail, or intense rain. However, if you live near the coast you may have a separate deductible for these types of losses.

(Note: flood water is a separate issue; flood damage is excluded from most policies and flood insurance in Massachusetts needs to be purchased separately.)

 

*What do you mean by “properly maintained”?

Insurance companies expect you to conduct regular, preventative maintenance on your home and surrounding property, in order to keep things safe. If the giant tree in your yard is obviously dead or dying, it’s up to you to have it cut down. If your roof is more than a few years old, you should invest in seasonal roof inspections. Here’s a great article (Bob Vila) on roof inspections—including when, why and what to expect. Key takeaway: if you neglect your roof until a leak appears in the ceiling, you’re probably already facing much larger problems—like structural issues, mold growth, or damaged insulation.

We have seen cases where clients submitted claims for wind or hurricane damage, and unfortunately, they were denied because it was determined the home was already in disrepair. In other words, the damage was foreseeable.

Okay, so what is a wind deductible?

First let’s look at a “deductible” in general. A deductible is the amount of money you pay before anything will be paid by your insurer. For standard “perils,” like fire or burglary, your home insurance deductible is a flat dollar amount—often between $500 to $2,000. Here’s some advice on “what should my insurance deductible be?”

Wind deductibles a.k.a. hurricane deductibles or “named storm” deductibles are different. For one thing, as their names suggest, they only apply to wind/hurricane damage. For another thing, you can’t set them at a flat dollar amount.

Do I need a wind deductible or hurricane deductible on my home insurance?

If you live near the coast or own a vacation home there, your property insurance will likely include a wind and hail deductible. Again, this amount is different from your standard deductible. Instead of being a flat dollar amount, wind or hurricane deductibles usually equal 1% to 5% of your home’s insured value. So, for example, if your home is worth $500,000, your wind/hurricane deductible might range from $5,000 to $25,000.

Can I pay a higher premium in order to get a lower wind deductible?

Maybe, depending on your carrier. Ask your agent if this might be an option and if it makes sense for you.

What will “trigger” my hurricane deductible to apply in Massachusetts?

This varies, depending on your insurance carrier and the specific language in your policy.

If I don’t have a wind deductible, and a tree causes damage on my property, will by standard deductible apply?

Good question! But it’s also somewhat complicated. Here’s more info on the question: does insurance cover tree damage/tree removal?

How can I prevent wind damage from happening?

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance offers the following wind damage prevention tips, especially for coastal home owners:

  • Elevate housing above the base flood elevation when possible.
  • Check and secure anchoring for covered porches making sure that connections are made in accordance with local building codes.
  • When re-roofing a house, check and inspect all decking and allied components and install shingles that meet high-wind standards.
  • Install shutters to protect window glass and glass doors from flying debris.
  • Install gable end, garage door, patio and double door bracing.
  • Install tie-downs for sheds, fuel tanks, TV antennas, and satellite dishes.
  • Install backflow valves on septic/sewer lines in flood-prone areas.
  • Elevate flood-prone utilities, heating/cooling systems and appliances and anchor securely.
  • Use tie-downs or strapping materials to secure woodpiles outdoors.
  • Keep downspouts and drains open and free flowing.
  • Thin treetops near buildings with the rule of thumb that one-third of the tree limbs removed.