Homeowners Insurance in North Carolina
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Are you looking to purchase a new homeowners insurance policy in North Carolina? Then you've come to the right place. This handy guide contains all the information you need to know about purchasing homeowners insurance in the Tar Heel State. Whether you want the most affordable premium possible, or whether you're looking to make sure you buy the right coverage, we can help clear up any confusion you may have about the shopping process.
Most homeowners - especially those who want to protect their dwelling and their personal property from potential perils - will be looking to buy a Special Form HO-3 policy. These policies include nearly limitless coverage for your outer structure, as well as fairly comprehensive coverage for your property from certain named perils.
|Types of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$100,000|
The estimated coverages listed in the chart above are based on industry standards, as well as average home prices in the state. Naturally, your coverage needs may be different; your home may be less expensive, or you may have personal property that cannot be replaced at only half the value of your structure. Be sure to take an accurate home inventory, and talk to your agent about what coverage options and limits are right for you.
North Carolina has hundreds of miles of coastline bordering the hurricane-prone Atlantic ocean. As such, getting affordable homeowners insurance that also protects you from the most common perils becomes more difficult the farther east your home is located. Inland areas, on the other hand, may see much lower rates.
As low as some of these rates may be, you need to understand that there will be significant fluctuations from one company to the next. Shopping around and requesting different quotes from several companies is the best way to make sure you don't end up overpaying. As you can see in the graph below, you might be able to save yourself a decent chunk of change just by shopping around:
Laws and Requirements
For most homeowners, especially those in North Carolina, home insurance is a necessity. This reality exists regardless of the fact that neither state nor federal law mandates it the way they do with other insurance products (like car insurance, for example). Your mortgage lender will probably require it, and it's a smart investment even if you own your home outright. After all, you don't want to suffer the financial devastation of having your home destroyed by a natural disaster with no insurance coverage to help you recover, do you?
Taking a Home Inventory
How much is your refrigerator worth? What about the light fixtures around your home? Or your electronics? These are important questions you will need to be able to answer before you purchase a policy. If you are unsure, you could waste thousands on inflated premiums by over estimating your property's worth. You may also end up purchasing too little coverage, which could become a serious financial burden if your insurer doesn't pay out enough on your claims to actually repair or replace the damage.
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
The most obvious perils that North Carolina residents have to worry about are hurricane-related. But those aren't the only disasters that can befall your home and/or property:
- Fires - While the eastern side of the state has more to worry about from water, the western half has seen some devastating wildfires in recent years. Thankfully, most special form insurance policies protect both your structure and your personal property from fire-related damage. For more information, be sure to direct any questions you have at your insurance agent.
- Hurricanes - Insurance companies have many different categories for specific damaged caused by hurricanes, and even more exceptions to help them avoid paying out on hurricane-related claims. Wind damage, water damage, and flood damage are all considered separate and unique elements that may or may not be covered, depending on your policy.
- Wind - The vast majority of HO-3 policies protect both your dwelling and your personal property from damages due to windstorms or hail. Homeowners in coastal cities, however, should clarify this coverage with their insurer to make sure it's available as part of a standard policy. If not, you may need to ask for a special endorsement or apply for a "beach plan" (see coastal property coverage below).
- Flood Damage - Finding a private insurance company willing to offer protection against flood damage is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. That's why the federal government, through FEMA, maintains the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It can help homeowners protect their property in the event of severe water damage not caused by any of the named perils on your insurance policy.
- Coastal Property Coverage - If you're having trouble finding a company that will underwrite your homeowners insurance because you own a property located in a "high risk" coastal area, then you might want to consider a FAIR plan through the NCJUA. Below, you will find a link to their website for more information on FAIR insurance plans, and how to obtain one.
- Covering Your Property - This is the part of your insurance policy, usually designated Part C Coverage, where your home inventory comes in handy. It pays to repair or replace the personal property located within your dwelling, up to the coverage amount specified, which is usually around 50% of your home's total worth.
- Liability Coverage - Accidents can strike at any time. And even if it happens to your best friend or a close family member, if it happens on your property, you could be held legally liable for the financial damages. In most cases, the liability coverage on your homeowners policy will help you pay for most - if not all - costs you are obligated to pay.
- Umbrella Coverage - Many North Carolina residents may have homes valued well beyond the coverage limits most insurance companies are willing to sell. This is where umbrella insurance comes into play. It helps fill the gaps between the coverage you need, and the coverage your insurer is willing to underwrite you for.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
These terms get thrown around a lot when you're negotiating the specifics of your homeowner's insurance policy. When it comes to replacement cost, you're usually talking about damages incurred to the outer structure of your home. The good news is that these claims are usually paid out at "replacement cost" - which means you get 100% of the funds needed to fix or replace structural damage up to your coverage limits. This leaves you with less financial responsibility after your deductible is paid, but your annual premiums will be higher as a result.
Actual cash value, on the other hand, typically refers to personal property covered by Part C of your homeowner's insurance. It pays out less when you file a claim on a significantly depreciated item. While you absorb more of the financial responsibility for replacing or repairing the damaged property, your premiums will be lower on average.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
Will your homeowner's insurance provider run a "hard" or a "soft" credit check on you if you ask them for a quote? In North Carolina, the answer to that question isn't so cut and dry. Most homeowners insurance companies take mercy on potential customers and run a soft check when they give you their first estimate. This doesn't have the repercussions of lowering your credit score the way hard checks do, but you may not get the most accurate quote from your insurer this way. Be sure to ask the agent you talk to about their credit check policies, as well as how much it can influence you actual premium costs.
For more information, feel free to click any of the links you see in this article. They all lead to more detailed information about homeowner's insurance, specifics on purchasing a policy, and how to find the best deal. You should also contact local resources in your state, such as:
Or contact them directly through the following resources:
NC Department of Insurance
Public Information Office
1201 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-1201
Phone: 919-807-6011 | Fax: 919-733-0085