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If Your Home Has Suffered Tornado Damage, Here’s What Homeowners Insurance Will Cover—And What It Won’t

Standard homeowners insurance typically covers damage to a home from a tornado. However, there may be situations where homeowners may want to purchase additional coverage.
A view of a tornado in the distance and a home's roof.


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What You Need to Know

  • Tornado damage is covered under most standard homeowners insurance policies, but the exact type and amount of coverage can vary.
  • Homeowners insurance coverage for tornado damage typically includes the home’s structure, personal property, additional structures such as garages, and debris removal.
  • Unless it is specifically listed in the policy, homeowners insurance is not likely to cover tornado damage to vehicles parked on the property.
  • Homeowners who live in tornado-prone areas or are concerned that they do not have sufficient coverage may want to consider raising their policy limits or changing insurance providers. 

Q: A tornado recently touched down about 10 miles from my house and caused a lot of damage, and now I’m nervous the next one will hit closer. Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage? I’d like to make sure I have enough coverage to repair or rebuild my home if it ever sustains damage from a tornado.

A: It’s a common question: Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage? The answer is yes; generally, a standard homeowners insurance policy does cover tornado damage. Homeowners insurance can help pay for repairs that are necessary after a tornado blows through, such as fallen trees, broken windows, hail damage, or other damage to the home that results from heavy winds. Read on to learn more about how homeowners insurance policies handle tornado damage and when more coverage may be necessary.

Homeowners insurance typically covers tornado damage up to the policy limits.

Does home insurance cover tornado damage? Homeowners insurance will generally cover damage caused by tornadoes up to the limits of the policy. Policy limits are determined at the time a homeowners insurance policy is purchased. Dwelling coverage will help pay to repair or replace a house that’s damaged by a tornado, and it’s important for homeowners to make sure their dwelling coverage limit is sufficient to replace the home in the event of a total loss.

Personal property is typically covered at 50 to 70 percent of the dwelling coverage. A homeowners insurance policy that has $300,000 in dwelling coverage would provide personal property coverage between $150,000 and $210,000, depending on the policy. Personal property coverage would repair or replace items such as furniture, clothing, and other items that are damaged as a result of a tornado, but only up to the stated policy limits.

A small model house sits on a document called 'Homeowners insurance policy' while a person writes in the background.

Does insurance cover tornado damage? Yes; homeowners insurance works in a couple of different ways to cover damage from a tornado. Some policies only cover what is listed on the policy (known as named perils). Most homeowners insurance policies list windstorms as a covered peril, meaning damages from a tornado would likely be covered.

Open perils policies cover anything that’s not specifically listed as “excluded” within the policy. With this type of coverage, a homeowner would receive coverage for any event unless it’s specifically listed in the policy as not being covered. In general, windstorms are covered perils and are usually not listed as excluded from open perils coverage.

Windstorm coverage generally covers the bulk of the damage to a home after a tornado, including damage from wind-driven rain, fallen trees, and mold and water damage from roof leaks.

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Homeowners insurance often covers the cost of removing debris after a tornado as well.

Homeowners insurance can help pay for any professional debris removal following a tornado. For instance, if the tornado caused a large tree to fall, it might be impossible for the homeowner to remove it on their own. In this case, the homeowner would need the assistance of a tree service to remove the tree, and homeowners insurance may help with tree removal costs in certain circumstances.

Parts of the home might also have blown off or come down, such as roofing shingles getting blown all over the yard. For these situations, a homeowner may need the help of professionals to clean up the yard and possibly repair damaged landscaping. Homeowners insurance often covers the cost of such debris removal and even repairs.

A home destroyed by a tornado.

Depending on the coverage selected, homeowners insurance can protect the home’s structure, its contents, and other buildings on the property against tornado damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover tornadoes? Homeowners insurance can provide coverage for the home itself, the policyholder’s personal property, and any unattached buildings on the property. As mentioned earlier, the home structure itself will have a set coverage limit that should equal or exceed the amount it would cost to rebuild the home, and personal property coverage has a limit expressed as a percentage of the dwelling coverage limit. “Other structures” coverage can cover tornado damage to detached garages, sheds, fences, and mailboxes, and coverage is also limited to a percentage of the dwelling coverage, similar to personal property coverage. The limit for “other structures” coverage is often 10 percent of the dwelling coverage limit, so a home with $300,000 in coverage would have a $30,000 policy limit for other structures on the property.

But if you live in a tornado-prone area, you may need to purchase extra coverage—at a higher cost—to cover tornado damage.

Are tornadoes covered by homeowners insurance, even in high-risk areas? While standard homeowners insurance policies do cover windstorms and related damage, insurance companies may not be too willing to offer standard tornado coverage in areas where there are frequent tornadoes. If tornadoes are a common occurrence in a particular area, it can get very expensive for insurance companies to pay to repair and rebuild homes.

For residents of areas with a high number of tornadoes each year, an insurance company may require that homeowners purchase additional tornado coverage, which means an additional fee. This added coverage can help cover the expense of home repairs and property replacement that results from frequent tornadoes in the area.

Certain types of water damage resulting from a tornado—such as flooding—may not be covered by homeowners insurance.

Is tornado damage covered by homeowners insurance, even if there is flooding? Unfortunately, flooding caused by a tornado may not be covered. For instance, if a tornado takes out a local dam and the surrounding area is flooded, or heavy rain from a tornado-producing thunderstorm floods a nearby river, the resulting damage likely wouldn’t be covered under homeowners insurance. A standard policy may cover mold damage caused by flooding, but the flooding itself would not be covered.

Flood insurance is a separate insurance product homeowners may be required to purchase if they live in a flood-prone area. Standard homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding. Homeowners who are concerned about flooding related to a tornado may want to consider looking into purchasing a flood insurance policy for their homes.

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Homeowners insurance will not cover damage to cars parked on the property—but a comprehensive auto insurance policy usually includes tornado damage.

Will homeowners insurance cover tornado damage for a car? No; homeowners insurance may cover the homeowner’s personal belongings if they are inside the car during the tornado, but it won’t cover damage to the car itself. Even if the car is parked on the property or inside the garage when the tornado hit, repairs would fall under car insurance rather than home insurance.

Homeowners will want to work with their auto insurance provider to make sure their vehicles have adequate coverage in the event of a tornado. Tornado damage is covered under the comprehensive portion of an auto policy, and a deductible usually applies.

Look out for any wind exclusions in your homeowners policy—these terms often exclude tornadoes as a covered peril.

Does home insurance cover tornadoes? As mentioned above, open-peril policies will cover any peril that isn’t listed in the policy as an excluded event. While it’s common for most insurance policies to include windstorms as a covered peril, open-peril policies may list tornadoes as a type of peril that is not covered.

It’s important for homeowners to work with an insurance agent to ensure their property is adequately covered against the perils they’re most concerned about. That may mean checking that tornadoes are not explicitly excluded or that the policy terms are inclusive enough to cover wind damage.

A view of damage caused by a tornado.

Your insurance company may charge a separate deductible for windstorm damage—especially if you live in a high-risk area.

How does house insurance cover tornado damage in high-risk areas? Homes in high-risk areas may cost more to insure against tornado damage, and some policies have a separate deductible that applies specifically to windstorm damage. While any claim on a homeowners insurance policy will generally require the policyholder to pay a deductible before coverage kicks in, the insurance company may list a separate, higher deductible that applies specifically to windstorm damage.

The reason some insurers may set a separate, higher deductible for windstorm damage is because they may have too many losses in an area that is very prone to frequent tornadoes. They often make up for those losses by imposing extra deductibles upon policyholders, which means the amount the insurer has to pay for repairs will be less.

Although tornado coverage is not legally required, mortgage lenders often insist that hazard insurance cover windstorm damage.

As with all homeowners insurance coverage, tornado damage coverage is generally not required by state law, but mortgage lenders often require some type of hazard coverage to protect their investment. In an area where tornadoes are common, if a tornado destroys a home and the homeowner cannot pay for repairs, it’s possible the homeowner would be forced to default on the mortgage. Therefore, it’s common for mortgage lenders to require a homeowners insurance policy that provides coverage for tornadoes. Homeowners will want to work closely with an insurance agent to make sure tornado damage is covered by their policy.

Increasing policy limits or switching providers can help homeowners get the right amount of coverage to protect against tornado damage.

The main takeaway is that homeowners should work with an insurance agent or do diligent research to make sure their home is fully protected against tornado damage. The homeowner should be sure to ask their insurance agent questions like, “Does homeowners insurance cover tornado damage?” and read the policy carefully to see what is covered—and what isn’t—so they don’t find themselves without adequate coverage following a storm.

For instance, some homeowners insurance policies only insure the home at actual cash value, which only provides coverage for its depreciated value, not the actual cost to replace it. A home insured at actual cash value may not be able to be rebuilt to its previous standard unless the homeowner pays part of the rebuilding costs out of pocket. A home that’s covered with a replacement cost policy would be covered for the amount it would cost to repair or rebuild the home (after the deductible has been paid).

Homeowners may want to sit down with an insurance representative to review their policy limits annually so they can ensure their home is covered appropriately. The best homeowners insurance companies will be able to offer higher coverage limits, as well as premium payments to fit most budgets.