Tornado Risk Is Changing. Here's What You Need To Know

April 6, 2022

In December 2021, Kentucky experienced the worst tornado in its history, costing the state billions in damage. It occurred well outside of the traditional warm-weather tornado season – and beyond Tornado Alley. The likely cause? Climate change.

Warming waters contribute to the kind of thunderstorms that create optimal tornado conditions. As climate change worsens, Americans may experience more intense, out-of-season tornadoes that travel further east than normal.

If you’re a homeowner, it’s time to start thinking about your area’s changing tornado risk.

The good news is that most standard homeowners insurance policies cover wind damage to your home. Even so, you may need additional coverage to adequately manage your risk. Here, we’ll look at three options to consider.

A Windstorm Add-on Can Help High-Risk Homeowners

The United States has the most tornadoes in the world – and the majority tend to touch down in the Great Plains. If you live in a high-risk state, your homeowners insurance policy may not include wind coverage. The same applies to homeowners in coastal states with high hurricane risk, like Florida or Texas.

To mitigate the costs of tornado damage, consider purchasing a separate windstorm insurance policy. Windstorm insurance can cover damage to…

  1. Your dwelling. Dwelling coverage protects the structure of your home, your garage, and any other attachments.
  2. Your personal property. This includes most material items inside your home, from socks to laptops. Coverage typically defaults to 50 percent of your dwelling limit, with the option to adjust if you have lots of valuables. Note that certain high-value items may have flat coverage caps.
  3. Other structures on your property. These include structures like detached garages, guesthouses, and sheds.

If a tornado destroys most or all of your home, windstorm insurance can also cover its “loss of use” (or “loss of rent,” if you’re a landlord). In practice, that means your windstorm insurance provider would pay for lodging, meals, and other living expenses until your house is habitable.

Prepare Your Personal Property Coverage for a Tornado

If a tornado strikes your home, there’s a good chance it’ll damage your belongings inside. With personal property coverage, you can manage the costs of repair and replacement.

Personal property coverage should be included in your current homeowners policy, no matter your home’s tornado risk. It typically covers your belongings at their “actual cash value,” or depreciated value.

But what happens if a tornado damages your property beyond repair? You’ll want higher-value coverage that can help you replace your belongings in full.

The solution: consider switching to an insurance policy with “replacement value” coverage. In the event of a claim, this type of coverage would pay you enough to purchase a new equivalent of lost or damaged property.

Should a tornado hit, a stressful claims process is the last thing you need. You can make your life easier by preparing a home inventory in advance. Only 43 percent of homeowners have created one, but they’re invaluable if you need to file a property claim. A home inventory can help you prove ownership of the things that need replacing.

When you make your home inventory, be sure to include…

For easy compilation and access, apps like Sortly and Encircle can store your home inventory in the cloud.

Comprehensive Auto Coverage Can Mitigate the Cost of Repairing or Replacing Your Vehicle

A tornado that strikes your home will likely damage your car as well. But if your auto insurance only includes liability coverage, it won’t help you manage the costs of repair or replacement.

Thankfully, additional comprehensive auto coverage can help. While it’s typically more expensive than liability-only auto insurance, comprehensive coverage can help you cover damage from…

If a tornado totals your vehicle, this coverage type can provide reimbursement for its actual cash value. That gives you the peace of mind you need after a major windstorm.

Manage Your Tornado Risk Before One Strikes

According to a landmark UN report, the current effects of climate change are more intense – and more widespread – than expected. With warming temperatures likely to impact tornado formation, homeowners must act today to protect against potential damage.

With WE Insure, you can talk to an independent agent about your tornado risk and coverage options. Professional guidance can help you protect the things you value most. Interested in learning more? WE’d love to talk.

The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only and may not be applicable to all situations. We Insure makes no guarantees of results from the use of this information.