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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

VERIFY: 'Named storm' insurance deductible hikes, and how that applies to winter storms

The National Weather Service names some storms, which affects insurance payments. While, they don't name winter storms, The Weather Channel has, causing confusion.
Credit: AP
A man clears snow from a driveway in St. Joseph, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow in southwest Michigan. (Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP)

As people across the country look online to figure out weather conditions across the U.S., along with forecasts for their area, they may see some interesting differences in the way storms are named. Some places attach names to the powerful snowstorms that sweep across the United States.

For those facing damage from these storms, that could be a worrisome prospect. If they were to be hit by a storm that was given a name, will residents have more to pay for their insurance deductibles?

One VERIFY viewer wanted to know if recent winter storms really count as "named storms."

THE QUESTION

Will I have to pay a higher insurance deductible to repair burst pipes and other damage to my home because a winter storm was a named storm?

THE ANSWER

No, the National Weather Service says it does not name winter storms.

WHY WE ARE VERIFYING

Barbara R., a Texas viewer, wanted to know if the winter storm that sent subzero temperatures throughout the central U.S. last week was a named storm “because insurance deductibles go up in named storms.”

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WHAT WE FOUND

Dennis Feltgen, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said,  “The National Weather Service does not name winter storms.” The NWS is the official source of storm names.

But, Feltgen said, “The Weather Channel, a private broadcast outlet, decided that it would do so on its own a number of years ago.”

The broadcaster dubbed the storm Uri, creating confusion among Texans who were left without electricity in the freezing cold for days. Now many of them are repairing damage to their homes, especially from broken pipes that spewed water after temperatures warmed.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says 19 states (Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and the District of Columbia “have some form of hurricane or named storm deductible in place. Other states may allow insurers to include hurricane deductibles in property insurance products.”

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In Texas, home insurance policies in 14 coastal counties don’t typically include wind damage, said Stephanie Goodman of the Texas Department of Insurance. Instead, homeowners buy policies from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association

Typically, named storm deductibles apply when the NOAA declares a weather event to be a hurricane, typhoon, tropical storm or cyclone, said Kimberly Donovan, chief policy analyst for the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel. 

“Generally, weather event losses that are not due to named storms, wind, or hail are subject to the “all other perils” deductible. That said, the policy form may define “named storm” narrowly or broadly,” Donovan said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, instead calling it the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency. The story has been updated with the correct name.

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