The devastation unleashed by hurricanes is a terrifying demonstration of nature’s power, taking lives and destroying homes as they land in coastal areas each year.
The damage amounts to billions of dollars each hurricane season, with the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season responsible for the deaths of 194 people and causing $80.7 billion of destruction across the region.
This devastation made the 2021 season the third-most-expensive ever recorded and served as a painful reminder that despite our advanced modern technology and scientific understanding of what causes these dreadful storms, we cannot tame them.
So, when the next tropical storm makes landfall, the best we can do is make sure we’ve taken every step to protect our families and homes from the inevitable onslaught.
Measures include safeguarding homes with protective features like hurricane windows, implementing an emergency preparedness plan, and ensuring we have the proper insurance to cover the costs of repairing homes if the unthinkable happens.
Homeowners often ask whether protective measures such as hurricane impact windows unlock discounts from insurers.
This article will clarify some of the critical details related to insurance coverage for hurricanes and help you put everything in place to protect your family and property from these disruptive storms.
Do Hurricane Windows Offer Any Insurance Benefits?
Hurricane windows protect your home from tropical storms by resisting high winds and impacts from flying debris. Insurers offer discounts for having hurricane windows installed because they are less likely to have to pay out on a claim.
You need to ensure you do this correctly because installing the wrong type of window or failing to adequately protect all openings in your home could leave you paying more than you bargained on.
The insurance industry is notoriously opaque, with plenty of jargon and fine print that can be difficult to understand. Some homeowners have even been refused coverage by their insurer, which is a position nobody wants to be in.
What Are the Dangers of Hurricanes?
Hurricanes bring with them extreme winds. Sustained winds of over 74 mph qualify as hurricane-strength and are classified as a Category 1 hurricane.
The categories of hurricanes are based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Sustained wind speeds between 111-129 mph fall into Category 3, a major storm, where devastating damage will occur.
The most powerful hurricane category is Category 5, reserved for sustained wind speeds above 157 mph. This category is where catastrophic damage will occur, and a high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed.
The biggest threat to houses from hurricanes is when objects are lifted off the ground and thrown at high speed by the strong winds. When these flying objects hit a building, they can cause severe damage.
A smashed window will compromise the envelope of the building, allowing an inrush of wind and rain. As the wind rushes in, it increases the air pressure inside the house, which can lift the roof clean off.
This process is often how homes are destroyed and is the reason obstructing the openings of your home is a critical way to protect your home from a hurricane.
That is where hurricane impact windows can make all the difference.
What Are Hurricane Windows?
Hurricane windows, also known as impact windows, are designed to be stronger than standard windows to withstand the high winds, impacts from flying objects, and intense rainfall brought by a hurricane.
Their frames are thicker and stronger than standard windows and can be made from vinyl, aluminum, steel, or wood. Even the trim around the edge of hurricane windows is designed to add strength, and the fixings used to attach them to walls are sturdier than those used on standard windows.
The glass used in hurricane windows is also designed for strength and borrows technology used by the motor industry to manufacture windshields.
The panes consist of two sheets of tempered glass with a resin layer in the middle. The resin is usually polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), which bonds the layers together and prevents the window from falling in if it smashes.
This construction maintains the integrity of the window and the building envelope, preventing the inrush of strong winds that can compromise the house’s structure and lift the roof off.
Hurricane Windows Also Improve Security
A nice additional benefit of hurricane windows, aside from preventing damage from tropical storms, is that they boost your home security—the super-strong design of impact windows keeps potential intruders at bay.
Most burglars want to get into your home, grab your valuables and make a quick getaway. They want to do this quietly and quickly, without attracting any attention.
When they realize that your window won’t break after a few blows from a hammer or crowbar, they will move on to the next house. The last thing they want is to hammer away at your window, advertising their break-in attempt to the entire neighborhood.
We’ve seen impact tests of hurricane windows where the technician attempting to break the window gave up after continuously hitting it with a sledgehammer for eight minutes. No burglar is going to keep trying for that long.
As mentioned, hurricane windows can get you a reduced insurance premium. They protect your home from storm damage and improve security, keeping unwanted visitors out of your house. These benefits make it less likely you’ll need to make a claim and shows an insurer that you are a lower risk.
For more information about the pros of hurricane windows, check out our article about the main advantages, here.
What Factors Affect Home Insurance Premiums?
Insurance companies consider many factors when determining your premium, as you will know if you’ve ever filled in an insurance application form. They can be lengthy documents that go into a lot of detail.
Your home is probably the most significant financial investment you will ever make. It also provides your family with shelter and security.
Given the importance of protecting your home, you’ll want to ensure you get the right level of coverage without paying over the odds. You have control over some of the variables insurers consider when determining your premium, such as whether you have hurricane windows installed.
Other factors, like your location, are not so easy or impossible to change. For example, if your home is in a hurricane-prone area, there’s nothing you can do about that, and you’re likely to pay higher premiums.
Factors that affect insurance premiums include:
- Your location
- The rebuild cost of your home
- The age of your home
- How well maintained your home is
- Your credit history
- Whether you have windstorm mitigation in place (e.g., hurricane windows)
Rising Insurance Premiums in Hurricane-Prone Areas
For homeowners along the Atlantic Coast of the US and the Gulf of Mexico, spiraling insurance premiums have been a concern for years.
The effects of climate change include increased strength and frequency of hurricanes, and this trend is likely to continue. Many homeowners are finding it increasingly difficult to get insurance coverage at all and have to seek it from a low-tier insurer.
This is not a new problem. In South Carolina, the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association was formed in 1971 to make insurance available to those unable to access insurance via the standard insurance market.
This organization was a response to the problems faced by people and businesses located close to the coast who would otherwise be left without insurance cover for windstorm damage.
Similar schemes exist in other coastal states to provide windstorm coverage for those excluded from voluntary insurer policies. However, the coverage offered and how these plans are funded varies between states.
In Florida, recent rises in premiums have sent the state into a property insurance crisis, with rates for many going up by 50% or more. Matt Carlucci, Jr. is a Florida insurance agent and says that the premiums for one of his customers jumped from $2,300 a year to over $9,200.
The recent difficulties in Florida are thought to be due to the increasing hurricane activity resulting from climate change, combined with home insurance fraud and rampant litigation costs.
The insurance losses experienced in the state recently due to natural disasters have seen at least three insurance firms getting out of Florida in 2022.
Recent changes to Florida legislation have introduced measures to curb rising insurance costs, crack down on fraudulent roofing scams, and allocate grant funding to householders to improve their homes’ resilience to storms.
Combined with the temporary sales tax exemption period on impact-resistant doors, garage doors, and windows that runs from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2024, these measures are expected to reduce the costs of future hurricanes, and insurance premiums, in Florida.
How Can I Reduce My Home Insurance Premiums?
Although some factors that affect the premiums insurers charge for insuring your home are not within your control, others are.
Here are a few suggestions for ways you could reduce your home insurance premiums.
Install Hurricane Windows
If you live in an area affected by hurricanes, installing hurricane windows on your home can get you a healthy discount on your premiums. To qualify, you must install impact-resistant products on all the openings of your house, including windows, doors, and garage doors.
Garage doors are often the largest opening and are particularly vulnerable to wind damage, so these areas mustn’t be overlooked.
Hurricane windows and doors reduce the risk of damage to your home due to the high winds and rain from hurricanes. Insurance firms are often willing to discount your home insurance if you have these protective measures installed.
According to Florida Statute 627.0629, insurers in the state are required by law to provide savings to customers who have installed windstorm damage mitigation measures, such as hurricane windows.
Adjust the Deductible
The deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company pays for your losses. Therefore, the larger the deductible you have signed up for, the lower your insurance premium will be.
Just don’t forget that the larger the deductible, the more money you’ll have to find yourself to cover losses in case of a claim.
Maintain Your Home Properly
Insurance companies often consider your house’s condition when setting the premium you will pay. A well-maintained home will likely cost less to insure.
For example, some insurers will give a discount if you have recently replaced your roof or renovated your whole house.
Other hurricane protection measures include hurricane ties, which prevent your roof from blowing off during a storm. Having them installed should also give you a lower insurance premium.
For more information about hurricane ties, please read our article about them here.
Do You Qualify for Extra Discounts?
It’s worth shopping around to see whether you can qualify for additional discounts.
Examples of additional discounts offered by certain insurers include:
- Discounts for multiple insurance products from the same company (e.g. auto, home, pet, and life insurance)
- Loyalty discounts for long-time customers
- Houses built to modern standards, including the most recent building codes, often qualify for discounts. For example, such homes could have fitted hurricane impact windows or shutters, which reduce the risk of damage during a storm
- Burglar alarms, high-security locks, and smoke alarms all attract discounts from some insurers
For more ideas about how to reduce the amount of money you spend on insurance for your home, why not read our article on the subject?
Hurricane windows are super strong and are built from heavy-duty frames and tempered impact-resistant glass. They offer protection from windstorm damage and improve the security of your home by keeping out intruders.
Insurance premiums are on the rise across the US states prone to hurricanes, due partly to the increasing frequency and intensity of these storms battering the coastline during the hurricane season and partly due to rising insurance fraud.
Insurers consider a wide range of things when setting the insurance premium you pay. Some of these can’t be changed, such as where your home is located. But you do have control over other factors, like whether you have hurricane windows.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area and have good windstorm protection, you can expect to pay less on your insurance premium.
You can further reduce the cost of insurance by adjusting the deductible, maintaining your home well, and taking advantage of other discounts, like loyalty bonuses or discounts for holding multiple policies with the same insurer.