For new residents in Florida, there’s sometimes a potent case of sticker shock awaiting them at the insurance office. Florida occupies a special place on the Hurricane Highway, visited from time to time by multiple hurricanes, tropical storms, and even by tornadoes. For this reason, windstorm coverage in Florida is a must for homeowners, business owners, condominium owners, and commercial or income property owners. Like flood insurance, wind damage is not a named peril on any policy issued in the state. Instead, windstorm coverage in Florida is purchased and paid for separately, with premiums computed by where the property to be insured sits on a FEMA “wind map.”
Not Exclusive to Florida
Windstorms afflict the majority of the United States that is east of the Rockies. Tornadoes have touched down as far west as Denver and Cheyenne, and as far north as the Canadian, borders of both North Dakota and Maine. Hurricanes have struck all the Gulf states and the Eastern Seaboard as far north as Massachusetts. Likewise, northeasters have spawned tornado-like winds that cause massive damage. However, there are some areas more than others that are at risk. While the risks of tornadoes in Miami are low, the risk for hurricanes is high. Florida sits in an area that is mixed zone three and Zone four. In these areas, winds from hurricanes and tornadoes can reach 200 miles per hour, and in some cases may exceed 250 miles per hour.
Past as Prologue
Since 1916, 28 hurricanes with winds greater than 111 miles per hour have made landfall somewhere in Florida. Hurricanes with winds greater than 111 miles per hour are considered category three storms. In the same time period, only two category five have made landfall. However, looking at USA Today’s map of all storms that have crossed the sunshine state make it look as if someone’s toddler got loose with crayons. Hundreds of storms have affected every county in the state. There is no safe haven in Florida from hurricanes. The past, in this case, is prologue. There have always been hurricanes in Florida, and there will be hurricanes in Florida. This is why windstorm coverage in Florida is a vital part of any insurance package.
Understanding Tropical Depressions, Tropical Storms, and Hurricanes
The seeds of a hurricane grow from a tropical disturbance into a tropical depression. While tropical depressions can bring a lot of rain, their winds are typically no more than 38 miles per hour. It is when a depression crosses the line into a tropical storm that things become more serious. Wind speeds for these types of storms are measured by the top speed as sustained for one minute, but peak gusts of wind could be anywhere from 10 to 25 percent over sustained wind speed. Tropical storms have wind speeds ranging from 39 to 73 miles per hour, and distinctive rainfall bands reaching out from the storm center. When storm winds cross 74 mph, then the tropical storm becomes a hurricane. There are five categories of hurricanes, with category 3, 4 and 5 storms known as major hurricanes. Hurricane winds are assured on the Saffir-Simpson category scale.
- Winds are from 74 to 95 miles per hour. Wind-driven debris can cause damage to homes and injuries to people and to animals. Older homes may experience roof failure and unsecured chimneys topple onto the roof. Even windows in modern high-rises are susceptible to breakage and when falling may injure those below.
- Winds are from 96 to 110 miles per hour. All of the conditions in a category one storm apply here. Additional hazards include falling trees, failure of fencing, destruction of commercial signage, failure of garage and urban doors.
- Winds are from 111 to 129 miles per hour. Category 3 hurricanes are classified as extensive storms, with the potential for widespread damage even of metal buildings, and can blow the windows out of even modern high-rises.
- Winds are from 130 to 156 miles per hour. Category 4 storms are classified as extreme storms. Water supplies may be interrupted or days or weeks, and power outages can last for as long as a month. Human suffering within the storm zone is extreme, with infrastructure completely destroyed.
- Winds are in excess of 157 mph. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was the last Category 5 storm to visit Florida. Types of storms are classified by NOAA as Catastrophic.
As you can see, there is no such thing as “a little hurricane.”
Getting Windstorm Coverage in Florida
Instead of rolling the dice with your property, talk to an independent insurance agent about windstorm coverage in Florida. We have over 20 years of experience in crafting the best insurance coverage for our clients’ needs. Hurricanes may come and go, but you can count on your coverage with us to be rock solid.