Florida is known for its extreme weather, but most people associate the state with its intense hurricanes, not other storms. That’s why people around the state were caught by surprise when eight total tornadoes were reported at the end of April.
Seven of the tornadoes came from one massive storm system on April 27th, 2023, including one described as “extremely dangerous.” They ravaged the Panhandle area. Another hit Palm Beach Gardens, half a state away, on April 29th. Winds from this twister exceeded 100 mph and destroyed homes and businesses throughout the city.
Tornadoes are not often associated with Florida since the state is well out of the way of the standard “Tornado Alley” area. However, it is third in the nation for the number of twisters identified annually, just behind Texas and Kansas and coming ahead of Oklahoma. According to the National Center for Environmental Information, a subsection of the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida experiences 66 twisters per year.
Despite the frequency of these storms, many Florida residents discount their danger and potential for damage. If you own a home or commercial property in the state, you should prepare for tornadoes with as much care and attention to detail as you’d use for hurricanes. If you don’t, you may find yourself facing serious harm to your property with no understanding of how to get it repaired.
To help you get started, we have broken down how the two types of storms compare, how property insurance works for tornados, and how to file your claim with expert legal help.
Tornado vs. Hurricane Damage: How They Compare
A tornado has a lot in common with a hurricane. Both are rotating storms involving high winds that can knock over trees, strip roofs, and even demolish homes. They also typically come paired with heavy rain, potentially significantly compounding property damage. However, the way these storms harm property differs significantly.
Hurricanes form in warm tropical ocean waters and average about 300 miles in diameter, so they are easily spotted by weather radars well before making landfall. However, their size also allows them to cause wide swaths of destruction when they hit land. While the entire storm technically rotates, hurricanes are so large that their spin is unnoticeable to people on the ground. Instead, they consist of straight-line winds that can exceed 100 mph. These winds combine with heavy rain and storm surges to damage property.
In contrast, tornadoes form on dry land. They come from thunderstorms with rotation and high winds, but the twisters cannot be spotted by weather radar. Instead, they can only be identified from the ground by people trained to spot “funnel clouds” that indicate a tornado is forming. They move more erratically, making predicting where they will go difficult.
The biggest tornadoes are only two miles across, and most are much narrower, so they do not affect as many people. However, their winds can exceed 300 mph. Additionally, the way they spin applies more torsion to structures and objects on the ground, potentially causing more serious damage than equivalent straight-line winds.
In short, both tornadoes and hurricanes can cause serious damage, but a twister can cause more harm to localized areas than a hurricane.
Does Your Property Insurance Cover Tornado Damage in Florida?
If you’re used to the complicated nature of hurricane coverage in Florida, you may be rightfully worried about whether tornadoes are covered under your insurance. Unlike hurricanes, though, tornadoes are typically covered by standard property insurance policies. If you have a standard HO-3 or special form policy, you are protected against all perils except those which are excluded. Most policies exclude hazards like earth movement, flooding, mold, and neglect or intentional damage, but wind and storm damage is typically covered under your normal deductible.
But what about water and mold damage to your home after it has been harmed by a tornado? Those may actually be covered as well. Policy exclusions for mold and water damage depend on the source of those issues. Property insurance generally does not cover water damage from flooding, where a flood is defined as an excess of water on normally dry land. This is different from water damage caused by rain falling on your damaged roof.
In other words, if the water damage comes from standing or running water that makes its way into your home, it is most likely only covered if you have specific flood insurance. However, if the water damage results from rain or hail landing on your home, your normal policy will likely cover it.
Similarly, remediation for mold caused by tornado damage may also be covered. This includes mold inside your walls or roof due to rain and wind damage. It usually does not include fungus problems from standing water or high humidity.
Preparing to File a Claim for Tornado Damage
If your home has been damaged by a tornado, you must file a comprehensive claim as soon as possible. The best way to get started is by contacting an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney like those at The Professional Law Group.
Our lawyers have years of experience with the different types of insurance policies in Florida. We understand how these policies interact and can help you determine the best way to get full compensation for your property’s repairs. Do not hesitate to schedule your free case review after a storm. We will discuss your situation and review the damage to your property. We can help you gather information and evidence, file your claim, and represent you to your insurer to ensure they treat your claim with the care it deserves. Learn more about how we can help you receive full compensation for your tornado property insurance claim today.