Tornado Alley Vs. Hurricane Alley Insurance Prices

Mon Jul 16 2018

Whether you call it a tornado or a hurricane, a windstorm can cause extensive damage to your home. So why does the average homeowner near Hurricane Alley pay more for their home insurance than those living in Tornado Alley?

For insurance providers, the risks are actually quite different. Let’s take a look at tornados and hurricanes so we can better understand the costs.

Windstorms in Tornado Alley

Tornado Alley is a tornado-prone stretch of land between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. While there is no set border, the term usually includes parts of:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Illinois

Tornadoes are unfortunately unpredictable. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports the average lead time for a tornado warning is just 11 minutes. However, they are also relatively short windstorms.The most severe can last an hour, but the most common tornadoes are over in about 10 minutes.

Additionally, the most severe tornadoes can have wind speeds of up to 300 mph. However, the NOAA says 69 percent of all tornados fall between 65 and 110 mph. For comparison, a major hurricane, category 3 or above, reaches wind speeds between 111 and 129 mph.

Windstorms in Hurricane Alley

Hurricane Alley is an area in the Atlantic Ocean where warm surface temperature create the opportunity for hurricanes. From June 1 to November 30, the states along the US eastern coast and the Gulf of Mexico face a high risk for hurricanes. In fact, the Hurricane Research Division of the NOAA reports:

  • 40 percent of all US hurricanes hit Florida.
  • 88 percent of major hurricanes hit either Florida or Texas.

The average hurricane season only sees about 10 named storms, but those storms usually cause more damage than tornadoes. That’s because the wind and rain from hurricane can last up to three weeks. Hurricanes win when it comes to size, too. The NOAA says the widest damage path for a tornado was 2.5 miles. The largest hurricane by diameter was Olga in 2004. That storm was 995 miles wide. Hurricanes also cause storm surge, which means homeowners in hurricane alley have to worry about both wind and water damage.

So how do these differences impact home insurance costs?

Why Home Insurance May Be More Expensive in Hurricane Alley

Insurers look at a number of factors to determine home insurance premiums. One of the biggest is weather. Homeowners in hurricane alley face greater risk of catastrophic weather events, so they typically pay higher premiums. But it’s not just the premiums that make their home insurance more expensive. In Hurricane Alley, homeowners may also have to:

  • Pay a percentage deductible. Nineteen states and Washington DC require homeowners on the coast to pay a hurricane deductible. Instead of paying a flat dollar amount, they pay a percentage of their home’s value. This helps insurance companies pay for the enormous claims that come in after a hurricane.
  • Buy flood insurance. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood. Considering FEMA estimates that just an inch of water can cause more than $26,000 of damage in the average home, purchasing flood insurance is usually recommended.

Having high hurricane risk makes insurance a no-brainer. However, you can also help mitigate losses by planning ahead. Find out how in “6 Ways to Hurricane-Proof Your Home.”

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