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Yes. Most standard homeowners insurance policies include coverage for damage caused by tornadoes.

There are 1,200 tornadoes across the U.S. every year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). These atmospheric storms can devastate houses and other structures. And recovery can be expensive. In 2021 alone, tornadoes caused almost $10 billion in homeowner damages

A typical homeowners insurance policy includes tornado damage and will pay you for covered perils stemming from tornadoes, such as wind damage or fallen trees. However, some may require that you add on tornado coverage separately at an extra cost. It is important to read your policy’s fine print to see what it does and doesn’t include. 

If you don’t have a homeowners insurance policy and live in a tornado-prone area, you may want to consider buying a standalone tornado insurance policy. 

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance covers tornado damage if the damage is a covered peril, such as wind damage or fallen trees.
  • After tornado damage, you should take inventory and pictures of everything that was damaged to file a successful claim.
  • Flooding caused by a tornado is not covered by homeowners insurance.

What component of homeowners insurance covers tornado damage?

Homeowners insurance covers multiple separate losses, and how you’re covered depends on what was damaged. 

  • Dwelling coverage. This covers your home’s structure. For example, if your roof is damaged, the dwelling coverage in your policy will replace it.
  • Loss of use coverage. This covers temporary living expenses, such as a hotel stay if your home was too severely damaged by a tornado to live in.
  • Other structures coverage. This covers detached structures that are damaged by a tornado, such as a garage or a gazebo.
  • Personal property coverage. This covers your personal belongings. , so If a tornado’s destruction of your home destroys all of your clothes, this component will replace those items.

Keep in mind many of these coverages have limits on how much they will pay out.

Natural disasters: insurance is critical

Expert Advice Badge

Edward Barbier

University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Economics and a Senior Scholar in the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University.

Q. Based on your research, what strategies does the government use to protect the economy from the potential impact of natural disasters?

A. “Most of the government’s strategies are ex post and are in the form of disaster relief after an adverse event occurs,” Barbier explains. “The government leaves it mainly to homeowners, businesses, and local and state government agencies to implement any strategies for preventing economic damages from natural disasters.”

Q. Are government strategies sufficient? If not, what more can be done?

A. “The government should consider developing a national strategy for assessing the vulnerability of coastlines, people and economic activity to natural disasters, especially given the likelihood of more frequent and intense storms due to climate change and sea level rise,” Barbier suggests. “As part of the national strategy, the government should consider the important role of both grey infrastructure (built structures, such as dykes, levies, and [beach] groins) and green infrastructure (coastal habitat that have proven to mitigate flooding, such as marsh, mangroves, seagrass beds, dunes, and barrier islands).”

Given that natural disaster mitigation approaches vary among localities, and that homeowners can face significant challenges recovering from flooding, tornadoes, blizzards and other disasters, it is important to establish insurance coverage addressing risks most relevant to a particular location.

What to do after tornado damage

  1. Make sure you and your home are safe: First things first, take care of yourself and don’t enter your home until you are told it is safe to do so. You can further protect your home by turning off the electricity.
  2. Call your insurance company: You’ll want to take this step as soon as possible so that an insurance adjuster can assess the damage. Once this step is complete, you can work on rebuilding or repairing your home.
  3. Take inventory of missing or damaged items: Note down and take pictures of any damage done to the home. You will work with the insurance agent to determine what is covered.
  4. Begin rebuilding your house: After you file a claim with your homeowners insurance company, you can begin rebuilding. If you live in a tornado-prone area, you may want to build in additional protections, such as impact-resistant windows, for your home.


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How to make tornado damage claims

To make a tornado damage claim, you’ll first need to call your homeowners insurance company and report the damage. They’ll direct you as to how to file a claim and will dispatch an insurance adjuster to evaluate the damage. 

Make sure to take pictures of all the damage and to save any receipts, especially if you are forced to relocate. Your homeowners insurance company will need the receipts in order to reimburse you for the costs. 

Here’s how to file a tornado damage claim, step by step:

  1. Contact your insurer immediately to discuss your coverage.
  2. Fill out and return the claim forms sent to you by your insurer as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time to file a claim.
  3. Arrange for an insurance adjuster to visit the property and assess the damage. You will likely coordinate this with your insurer.
  4. After the insurance adjuster has evaluated the damage, begin to make repairs.
  5. Save any documentation for the insurer so you can be reimbursed, such as receipts for accommodation, construction and repair costs and any other necessary expenses.

Does homeowners insurance cover water damage from a tornado?

Although tornadoes are often accompanied by rain, damage caused by the rain isn’t necessarily covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Specifically, if your home is flooded, your homeowners insurance policy won’t reimburse you for the damage.

Flooding isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. If you live somewhere with a risk of flooding, you should buy a separate flood insurance policy

Tornadoes affect thousands of people — and their homes — a year. Sometimes, tornadoes cause destruction so severe that homeowners need to completely rebuild their houses. The best way to protect your home and your finances if a tornado strikes is by buying a homeowners insurance policy that covers tornado damage. Make sure to read the fine print of your policy before you sign to ensure you’re getting the right coverage. 

Frequently asked questions

What happens if your house gets destroyed by a tornado?

If your house is destroyed by a tornado, homeowners insurance will cover the costs to rebuild it, but you’ll need to file a claim first. Be sure to take pictures of the damage and call your homeowners insurance company to file a claim.

What should you do if a tornado hits your house?

You should not enter your home unless you are told it is safe to do so. After you are safe, call your homeowners insurance company so they can dispatch an insurance adjuster to assess the damage.

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Nupur Gambhir
Managing Editor


Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.