Tornadoes can damage your home, resulting in devastating financial loss. Here’s what you need to know about your home insurance policy and tornado damage. (iStock)

While homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, your mortgage lender will more than likely require you to be insured before financing your home. As a homeowner, you’ll want this ongoing financial protection and to have sufficient coverage in case of a natural disaster — such as a tornado. 

Nearly three-quarters of homeowners say that the biggest threats facing their homes are weather-related. Since 2008, insured losses in the U.S. as a result of tornado damage have totaled at least $10 billion each year.

Whether your homeowners insurance covers tornado-related damage to your property depends on your location, what caused the damage, and the type of insurance coverage you have. Here are a few things to consider about tornado insurance. 

If you’re shopping for a home insurance plan, you can explore pricing and find the right type of insurance that fits your needs on Credible.

Does home insurance cover tornado damage?

Homeowners insurance financially protects your home and personal belongings. Certain coverages help pay to repair, replace or rebuild your home and personal property if they are damaged by specific perils. Home insurance typically covers damage related to:

  • Your dwelling and personal property
  • Other structures on your property
  • Liability for injuries
  • Accidental damage to someone else’s property

When it comes to tornados, extensive damage can be caused by several different things such as wind, hail, water, fallen trees and debris — and should fall under your personal property and dwelling coverage.

1. Wind and hail damage

Wind and hail damage is usually covered in a typical home insurance policy, however, if you live in tornado alley, your provider may require separate coverage for wind and hail. 

2. Water damage

Coverage for water damage depends on the cause. Homeowners insurance policies generally do not provide coverage for flood damage. Flood insurance would need to be purchased separately. If wind-driven rain enters your home, the resulting damage is typically covered under your dwelling and personal property coverage. 

3. Damage from fallen trees

Heavy wind can cause trees to fall and cause damage to your home or other property, which is generally covered. If the tree was dead and rotting prior to the passing tornado, you may not be covered for the removal and damage caused by the tree.

4. Debris removal

A passing tornado usually leaves a lot of debris. Most insurers cover the costs of debris removal so long as the damage was caused by a covered peril. 

To avoid any surprises, it’s essential that you check with your insurer to ensure your homeowners insurance covers tornado damage. If you’re still looking for the right comprehensive coverage, you can explore home insurance carriers on Credible.

What happens if your house is damaged or destroyed by a tornado?

If a tornado damages your home, here are some steps you should take to prepare and file an insurance claim:

1. Document and itemize all damaged possessions. Take plenty of notes and pictures of damage to your home before you start cleaning and dig out any receipts for damaged items. Tell your insurer whether you needed to relocate due to the tornado damage as these expenses may be covered. Your insurer may ask you to provide a list of all items. 

2. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to begin your insurance claim process. Give your provider your policy number as well as your contact information. You’ll be asked for a description of the extent of the tornado damage.

3. If you need to make temporary repairs because of tornado damage, keep the receipts. Document all costs while you rebuild your home.

4. An insurance adjuster will visit your property to document the tornado damage. Give them a copy of your list and don’t throw anything away until they assess the damage. 

5. Provide your home insurance company with all required documentation and submit your claim. Your insurance company may be working on a first-come, first-serve basis so it’s important to file as quickly as possible and stay updated. 

6. Find a professional contractor to make repairs to your home. Your insurer should pay up to your coverage limit if your claim is accepted.

You can compare home insurance companies and shop their plans via Credible.

Is tornado insurance expensive?

Tornado damage is covered under typical homeowners insurance policies and there isn’t an average cost specific to tornado coverage. Claim trends in your area may affect what you pay and depending on where you live, your insurer may require you to pay a higher premium due to the increased risk of tornado damage. 

Make sure you continuously update your insurance coverage limits to protect yourself from financial loss, especially if you’ve made home improvements or you’ve bought new furniture or appliances. You can visit Credible for easy comparison shopping. With Credible’s partners, you can eliminate the time-consuming part of your search.

Have a finance-related question, but don’t know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.