Tornadoes are storms caused by wind tunnels that move swiftly across land. They can appear out or nowhere or can be seen for miles before they touch down causing hundreds, even millions of dollars in damage to homes, businesses, crops, farms...anything that crosses its path.
Hurricanes are most likely to happen in late summer and can bring untold devastation to areas in the southern US close to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Other states along the coast can be affected by winds, hail and flooding.
Both of these acts of nature, as we've seen countless times, leave people without electricity during the lightest ones, and without homes and businesses in the most deadly. If you're a homeowner or renter, you need to be aware of the types of insurance policies you can obtain to protect your family in these events.
How Do I Get Coverage?
Most renter's and homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage done by hurricanes or tornadoes. You can get coverage by:
- Getting a separate insurance policy for the coverage, or
- Getting a hurricane or tornado "rider"
A "rider" is an optional, additional coverage that is added to your existing policy. Most insurance companies will add a rider rather than issuing a new and separate policy. A rider is like a mini-policy that includes its own set of terms and conditions of coverage, which become a part of your original policy.
What Will It Cost?
In most cases, an insurance company charges extra for an insurance rider, and costs will vary from state to state and among insurance carriers.
In many instances you can lower the premium, the amount you have to pay, by increasing the amount of your deductible. A "deductible" is an amount of money that you pay before insurance coverage begins. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium because the insurance company pays out less.
For example, you have a hurricane rider for $10,000 in coverage, with a $2,000 deductible. If you suffer $8,000 in hurricane-related losses of personal property, you will pay the first $2,000 and your insurance company will pay the remaining $6,000. Because the insurance company will not have to pay the full $8,000, you receive a discount on the premium for the rider.
Both of these options will cost extra money and may still be limited in what damages they cover.
Questions For Your Attorney
- As a landlord, can I make a tenant get renter's insurance with a hurricane rider before I agree to lease him one of my beach-front apartments?
- If my rental is destroyed by a hurricane or tornado, what happens to my lease? Is my landlord required to rebuild?
- Will my hurricane or tornado coverage pay for moving costs or pay for temporary housing while my rental is being repaired or rebuilt?