While a deductible of 1 percent may not sound significant, if the home’s insured value is $350,000, that means the deductible is $3,500; with a 5 percent deductible, it’s $17,500. For that reason, consumers should be cautious about increasing hurricane deductibles to lower their insurance premiums, Ms. Bach said, because it could leave them underinsured in the event of a serious storm.
Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group, said some insurers include the dollar value of the deductible, along with the applicable percentage, to eliminate confusion.
A hurricane deductible is distinct from the deductible for other sorts of damage to the home and usually goes into effect when a storm is categorized as a hurricane by the National Weather Service — or, in some cases, when a storm is named, even if doesn’t become a hurricane. (Some policies have separate windstorm deductibles that apply even for unnamed storms.)
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have hurricane deductibles, according to the institute.
Some states — including Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina — offer a tax deduction for money deposited in special catastrophe savings accounts, to help homeowners set aside funds for their hurricane deductibles.
Some policies offer discounts if homeowners use reinforced shutters to protect windows, or use special clips or straps to help secure roofs during storms.
Ms. Worters noted that standard homeowner policies don’t cover damage from floodwaters, even if it is caused by a hurricane’s storm surge. Homeowners must buy separate flood coverage, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or from private companies. There is often a waiting period (30 days, in the case of federal flood insurance) before flood policies take effect.