Homeowners Insurance in Virginia
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UPDATED: Aug 6, 2020
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Virginia has hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline which used to be an attractive area to build property and purchase a home. In recent years, however, the uptake in hurricanes and tropical storms that are traveling further and further north have turned this blessing into a curse. But don't despair; it may be slightly harder and more expensive to purchase homeowners insurance in Virginia than it used to be, but it isn't impossible. We hope we can use this handy guide in order to make your insurance purchase process as painless as possible.
The most popular type of homeowners insurance in Virginia is called a zebra policy. These policies offer many different types of coverage, and in higher amounts than other less comprehensive policies. And they do so at a rate that most homeowners find comfortably affordable. Below, for a $200,000 home, you can expect a purchase the following types of coverage in the shown amounts:
|Type of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$100,000|
Likewise, all of the estimates presented in the graphs below are based on the value of $200,000 home. But if your home is valued at more than that, then you will of course be expected purchase somewhat more coverage. Again, we must emphasize that these are only estimates; the specific premium you will end up paying will depend on many different factors, such as your proximity to the coastline, the age of your house, the material your house was built out of, and other factors.
The graph below shows the difference between some of the lowest and some of the highest annual premiums you can expect to pay in any given City. As you can see, in cities such as Virginia Beach, this difference can be significant - around $700 per year. This is why it's so important to shop around before you settle on an insurance company. One provider may be offering you a premium that a several hundred dollars more than their competitor down the street. And if you don't request quotes from at least three different companies, you could get stuck with an annual premium that is much more expensive.
Laws and Requirements
There is no legal requirement to carry homeowners insurance, but your lender will likely enforce one. In Virginia, they can go as far as to take out a force-placed homeowners insurance policy on your property. When this happens, they will send you a bill after the fact unless you can provide proof that you already have your own homeowners insurance coverage. Unfortunately, when it comes to communication between homeowners, mortgage lenders, and homeowners insurance companies, confusion is almost inevitable. You could end up being charged double for your own private insurance policy and the bank's forced-placed policy if you aren't careful. If you are struggling with a forced-placed homeowners insurance issue, and you believe you are being treated unfairly, be sure to contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance. You can find a link to these contact resources later on in the sky.
Taking a Home Inventory
Taking a home Inventory can be a tedious process. But unfortunately, it is a necessary part of figuring out how much insurance coverage you need on your home and personal property. This is especially important for the part see coverage of your policy. There is a danger that overestimating your coverage needs can lead you to by too much, which leads to higher premiums. However, under estimating for the sake of getting lower premiums can also be dangerous. If you don't have enough money to repair or replace damaged property, and your insurance company doesn't pay out enough on your claim, then you could be stuck in a really difficult financial situation.
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
The most obvious perils that Virginia residents have to worry about are hurricane-related. But those aren't the only disasters that can befall your home and/or property:
- Hurricanes and Tropical Storms - The increasing unpredictability of hurricanes and tropical storms has significantly changed the homeowners insurance landscape in states like Virginia. These days, there are many major insurance companies that refuse to insure homes on the coast; others may enforce a separate premium for damage associated with hurricanes.
- Flood Damage - It doesn't matter whether the flood damage is caused by rain, tropical storms, hurricanes, or an overflowing nearby body of water - most insurance companies will not cover this type of damage. Thankfully, you can buy coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. It is sponsored by FEMA and it can sell you up to $250,000 worth of coverage on your home alone. You may also be able to purchase coverage for your personal property.
- Wind, Hail, and Named Storms - Whether you sustain damage from named storms like hurricanes or tropical storms, or destructive storms like wind or hail storms, most insurance companies in Virginia deal with the claims process a little bit differently. Many enforce a separate deductible that is a different dollar amount than the standard claim deductible on your insurance policy. This deductible could range from a flat rate of $2,000 or more, or could be a percentage of your part A coverage. Usually the percentage deductible ranges from 2% to 5% of the total coverage you have on the structure of your home. But it could be more expensive - you need to check with your insurance agent for specifics on your name storms deductible and what sort of coverage you are eligible for.
- Covering Your Property - Your dwelling can only do so much to protect the personal property that you place inside of it. For this reason, most zebra policies include coverage for your personal belongings. That way you can sleep soundly at night knowing that if external damage somehow sneaks its way in and damages your furniture or a major kitchen appliance, you won't have a sudden and unexpected expense with regard to replacing or repairing such items.
- Liability Coverage - Sometimes, accidents will happen on your property. And whether you believe so or not, a court of law may deem you to be at fault. In such cases, you can rely on your liability homeowners insurance coverage to help with the costs associated with the accident.
- Umbrella Coverage - Do you own a million dollar home? Is your domicile decorated with expensive art? Do you have several pieces of antique furniture or jewelry? Then you may need more coverage than your insurance company is willing to sell to you. This is where umbrella coverage comes in. It extends the coverage limits on your policy for certain high dollar items. Just keep in mind that whether or this coverage is a part of your homeowners policy or a separate policy all together, you will end up paying more in premiums for this extended coverage.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
It's important to understand not just what the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value is, but how it directly affects your annual premium. Replacement cost coverage will raise your overall premium, because it leaves your insurer with most of the financial responsibility in the event that they honor your claim. Actual cash value, on the other hand, will tend to lower your annual premium. This is because you take on more of the financial responsibility on your honored claims, which costs your insurance company less money.
Why are replacement cost premiums more expensive? Because replacement cost means that on and honored claim, your insurer will pay out 100% of however much it costs to repair or replace the damaged piece of property (minus your deductible, of course). Actual cash value, on the other hand, will not pay out 100%. It will pay out as close to 100% as it can get, minus depreciation and your deductible. The older the damaged piece of property is, and the more wear and tear it has, the less your insurance company will pay - and the more you will end up spending.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
I t's important to communicate with your potential insurer when you're shopping around for homeowners insurance quotes. Before you give them any personal information, be sure to inquire about their credit rating process. Most homeowners insurance companies rely on things like credit reports in order to determine your credit rating or your insurance score. In some rare circumstances, some companies may perform a more thorough check. And if this check is too thorough, it may leave a black mark on your credit history. This can damage your overall credit score, so getting these types of quotes discouraged. As you can see in the graph below, you want to have the best credit rating you possibly can before you purchase your policy. This can help you get lower premiums and save you money over the life of your home.
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:
Bureau of Insurance
P.O. Box 1157
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1157
Phone: (804) 371-9741