Homeowners Insurance in West Virginia
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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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West Virginia is a beautiful state which contains large swathes of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. It enjoys delightfully low property values, with the average home costing around $150,000. If you're in the process of buying a home for yourself, especially if you're a first-time homeowner, then you may be a little confused about homeowners insurance. But don't worry - this handy guide is here to help you navigate the rough waters a purchasing a policy so that you can rest assured your home and property will be protected.
The most popular type of home insurance which you will likely purchase is called an HO-3. It is an industry standard which is also known as a special form policy. It will protect the outer structure of your home, your personal property that you keep inside your home, and protect you against liability expenses as well as medical payments. There are many other optional coverages that are easy to add to an HO-3 policy - but keep in mind that you may end up paying higher premiums when you purchase more coverage.
|Type of Coverage||Coverage Amount|
|Replacement Cost (Dwelling)||$200,000|
|Replacement Cost (Contents)||$100,000|
Usually, when you purchase an HO-3 policy, you will ensure your home for anywhere between 80% and 100% of its market value. And your personal property coverage, usually referred to as part C coverage, will cover your personal belongings for up to 50% of your home's market value. The deductible in the chart above is merely a suggestion; if you want to lower your annual premiums, it's a good idea to raise your deductible to around $1,000 or more.
West Virginia home insurance premiums are slightly higher than the national average in some areas. In other areas, it's slightly cheaper than what most homeowners are paying across the country. This has a lot to do with perils which may damage your dwelling or personal property, and the likelihood of those perils occurring. There are many things you can do to protect your home and ensure that any parallels, regardless of whether you can control them or not, will be less likely to damage your home.
Like many states in the Union, home insurance premiums will vary significantly from one company to the next. Take the city of Huntington for example. A homeowner who fails to shop around may end up paying more than double for their annual premium. And in Parkersburg, it's even worse. Accepting the first policy offer that you come across could leave you paying up to three times as much as the most affordable rate in your area.
Laws and Requirements
You may be surprised to learn that there are absolutely no legal requirements for anyone who owns a home to purchase homeowners insurance. This is because, in reality, it isn't actually necessary for the government to make it a mandate. Your bank lender will, however, make it a mandatory part of your mortgage contract. And failure to carry homeowners insurance on a house you are still paying off could result in severe financial penalties or possibly foreclosure. Regardless, it's a good idea to have homeowners insurance no matter what your circumstances are. Even if you own your home outright, failing to Insurance could lead to financial ruin if anything devastating happens to your property.
Taking a Home Inventory
In order to make sure you get the best possible price on your premium, you're going to need to take an accurate home Inventory. We're not going to lie to you - this is going to be a tedious process. But after you get the first inventory out of the way, keeping it updated on an annual basis will be much easier. And accurately assessing the value of your property can help you avoid purchasing excess coverage. This will lead to lower premiums!
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Choosing What (and How Much) Coverage
The most obvious perils that West Virginia residents have to worry about are hurricane-related. But those aren't the only disasters that can befall your home and/or property:
- Wildfires - West Virginia is ranked 29th in terms of population Density. End in all those spaces in between, there are lots of forests which can easily catch on fire under the wrong conditions. Thankfully, there is extensive coverage for protection against fires and smoke and all other damages associated with such perils.
- Flood Damage - Unlike Wildfire coverage, finding a private insurance company who is willing to ensure you for flood damage is extremely rare. Odds are you will have to contact FEMA's National flood insurance program in order to purchase flood damage coverage. And even if you think your property is located in an area that is not prone to flooding or flood damage, it's still a good idea to protect yourself. Flood damage is expensive to clean up after, and disasters can happen at any time.
- FAIR Coverage - West Virginia has a fair coverage plan in place for homeowners who are having trouble finding coverage in the private insurance market. But compared to HO-3 policies, these plans are much more limited. You can only buy up to $200,000 of coverage, and this protection only applies to the external structure of your home. Likewise, it doesn't protect against all of the carols that an HO-3 policy does. But it will pay out claims on fire, wind, hail, aircraft, vehicular, smoke, and explosion damages.
- Covering Your Property - Obviously, it's a good idea to have coverage for the structure of your home. but you're also going to want to have coverage on all of your personal belongings that are located inside your home. That's one of the reasons HO-3 policies are so popular. They don't just protect your home itself - they also protect your expensive belongings such as electronics, large home appliances, furniture, and much more. But not all pieces of personal property are covered equaling. Make sure you discuss with your insurance agent whether or not you need to add extra coverage for items such as expensive jewelry or high-dollar artwork.
- Liability Coverage - It seems unlikely, but the truth is that accidents can happen on your property at any time. And it's not entirely inconceivable that it may somehow or another be your fault. Obviously, the courts will decide this if and when things go to court. But if it gets that far, and you are deemed liable, the liability coverage on your homeowners insurance will pay out costs up to the total of your coverage limit.
- Umbrella Coverage - Umbrella coverage is a type of insurance for people who own property that cost several hundred thousand if not millions of dollars. Most insurance companies don't want to sell such high coverage limits, in case they have to pay out on a very expensive plane. But with umbrella Insurance, you can protect some of the most expensive property on the planet - for a higher premium price, of course.
Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value
Replacement cost vs actual cash value has to do with how much money you will receive from your insurance company in the event that you file a claim, and that claim is honored. If the property you're filing a claim on is insured at replacement cost, then you will receive 100% of however much it costs to fix that piece of property minus your deductible. Actual cash value, however, pays out less than replacement cost coverage. This is because actual cash value calculate how much the property is worth minus its depreciation. So the older the property is, the less you will receive from your insurance company in order to repair or replace it. But because this puts a larger burden of financial responsibility on you, your insurance company may end up charging you less on your annual premium.
How Your Credit Score May Influence Your Rate
The better your credit, the better deal you will get on your annual homeowners insurance premium. But it's a good idea to know where your credit stands, and how your insurance company will evaluate your credit before you start requesting quotes left and right. Be sure to ask potential insures how they evaluate your credit before you give them any personal information. Most homeowners insurance companies will rely on more selective aspects of your credit history, such as clear reports and insurance scores. It's rare for a company to do a hard check and request your entire credit history. But if they do this, it could lower your credit score. this is the main reason you want to be careful when you do start searching for the most affordable rate.
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:
West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner
PO Box 50540
Charleston, WV 25305-0540
Phone: (304) 558-3386 | Fax (304) 558-4965