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Unpredictible Hail, Wind and Lightning Damage

Storm and Hail Insurance

Everything is bigger in Texas, from the cities, the wide-open spaces, to the food, to the weather! In fact, Texas has had thirty-six $100,000,000 or larger disasters from severe storms in the past 25 years and more than 80% of the time, hail was to blame for the damage. According to the 2018 LexisNexis Home Trends Report, Texas accounted for nearly 25% of catastrophic hail claims across the entire United States. Both hail frequency and severity have also been steadily rising since 2012.

Each year high winds also ravage businesses and homes across the state. Amarillo, Lubbock and Corpus Christi are frequently ranked as the windiest cities in the U.S. Straight-line winds often exceed 58 mph and include downdrafts, downbursts, microbursts packing tornado-like force, gust fronts, and massive, merged storm systems called derechos. No matter the name, winds in Texas often cause serious damage.

On top of straight-line winds and hail, storm damage can occur from hurricanes and tornadoes in certain regions of Texas. Spring and fall are peak times for storm insurance claims. Read on to learn how to protect your business and home from storms and hail, wind and water damage.

Does My Existing Policy Protect from Storms?

It depends on the damage caused by the storm which could include wind damage, wind-driven rain (water damage), lightning (fire damage), hail, tornadoes, flooding, hurricanes and falling trees.

Hail is getting bigger and claims are becoming more frequent, affecting buildings and vehicles throughout Texas. Fortunately, hail damage is included in standard property policies and often leads to a roof repair or replacement. However, some carriers exclude cosmetic hail damage that only affects the appearance of walls, roofs, windows, etc.

Lightning can also lead to damage during a storm, affecting personal property (computers and electronics) and even causing fires. Fortunately, lightning has few exclusions and damage is covered in most property policies.

Other scenarios can create damage after a storm including collapse of a roof due to buildup of rain, hail or snow. You need a broad policy traditionally called an “open perils” policy or “special” form to provide coverage for collapse.

Water damage caused by a storm can happen several ways. Flood insurance is always required to protect from rising water damage. Wind-driven rain can also lead to water damage inside the home, but many exclusions exist. If windows or a skylight were left open, it often isn't covered. If a tree falls and creates a hole in the roof leading to water damage, it would be covered in most policies. However, if an old roof leaks during a storm without any new damage, a claim will often be denied.

Wind damage can be caused by straight-line winds, hurricanes and tornadoes. This type of claim is often catastrophic, affecting the roof, siding and windows. Tornadoes are covered in a standard homeowner’s policy and have few exclusions. For straight-line winds, exterior damage is covered in most policies. However, hurricane caused wind damage almost always occurs in coastal counties and therefore requires a separate windstorm insurance policy.

Windstorm insurance, also known as wind and hail insurance, can be required by your mortgage lender. If you live in a high-risk area near the Gulf coast, you may be forced to purchase coverage through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. This carrier provides wind and hail insurance to the 14 Gulf Coast counties and a portion of Harris County.

Cost of Storm Insurance

Property insurance rates in Texas vary depending on where your home is located, the total number of claims in a previous year, the insurer you choose, your home's value and aspects of how your home is built. The cost of wind insurance for an expensive beach-side house along the Gulf, for example, will cost more than the same coverage for a small home that's located in Central Texas or near El Paso. Likewise, a hail belt goes through DFW, Lubbock, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Midland, and Odessa. As a result, these areas of Texas have higher homeowners premiums compared to central and south Texas.

Replacement cost is another item to consider. If your roof is 50% worn out, which is still considered a good roof, then without replacement cost coverage you would only get half of the cost to replace the roof in the event of hail or wind. You would also have your deductible subtracted from any claim as well.

It is becoming more common to have 2% deductibles in the hail prone areas of Texas and more carriers are starting to offer replacement cost to composition roofs that are 15 years or newer because older roofs are more easily damaged in storms.

No one knows what the weather in the future will bring. That’s why it’s important to speak with a licensed insurance agent today to discuss your coverage needs and to help keep you and your family safe and dry this upcoming storm season.