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Fire, hail, windstorms, and explosions are covered by home insurance in South Carolina, but hurricanes are not. South Carolina has an 80% chance of being impacted by hurricanes and tropical storms annually, so prepare to add flood insurance to your homeowners policy to protect your property.
Understanding what your homeowners insurance covers isn’t as easy as you might think. But knowing that you have the right coverage for where you live can be the difference between successfully rebuilding and being displaced after a natural disaster.
In 2016, the Insurance Information Institute conducted a study and learned that more than a quarter of Americans believe—incorrectly—that their insurance policies cover damage caused by flooding and/or earthquakes. While South Carolinians are not likely to experience a disaster-level earthquake, flooding is one of the most commonly declared disasters in the state.
A lot is riding on finding the right home insurance. Fortunately, Jerry can tell you everything you need to know about natural disasters and home insurance in the Palmetto State.
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What is homeowners insurance—and what does it cover?
Homeowners insurance (“home insurance”) is a policy that covers the cost of repairing or replacing your house and personal property in the event of damage caused by a covered peril.
It is not a law that you have to insure your home, but your mortgage lender will usually require you to take out a policy.
There are several different policies to consider, but first, let’s get clear on some common terms.
- Perils: A peril is any action or event that could result in damage to or the loss of your home.
- Open peril: An open peril policy means that all events are covered except those specifically listed as exclusions.
- Named peril: A named peril policy means that you are only covered by the perils that are listed in your policy.
- Actual cash value: If you have an actual cash value (ACV) policy, your insurance provider will reimburse you for what you paid for your home minus depreciation.
- Replacement cost: A replacement cost policy means that your claim will cover the current cost to replace your assets.
Levels of homeowners insurance coverage
There are a number of standard homeowners coverage options to choose from, and each can be customized to suit your needs, but let’s start with the basics:
HO-1: This type of coverage only covers your house—not personal property, loss of use, or liability. HO-1 is the most basic type of coverage and, as a result, the least popular. An HO-1 policy only covers limited named perils, typically including fire, hail, and windstorms.
HO-2: The HO-2 policy covers only damage to your home and your personal property caused by named perils. There are more perils covered in the HO-2 than the HO-1.
HO-3: The most common type of homeowners insurance is an HO-3 policy. The HO-3 policy includes coverage for the dwelling, other structures on the property (like a shed or fence), and personal property and covers loss-of-use, personal liability, and medical payments.
With an HO-3 policy, your house itself is covered by an open perils policy, meaning that any peril except those listed specifically is covered. Personal property is only covered for named perils, though.
HO-5: If you have a custom home or expensive assets, you may want an HO-5 policy, which covers both your home and your personal property with an open perils policy. This is the most comprehensive policy available, but it may not be cost-effective unless your assets or location require it.
|Coverage type||What’s covered||Perils|
|HO-1||Dwelling only||Named perils|
|HO-2||Dwelling, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Named perils|
|HO-3||Dwelling, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Dwelling—open perils, personal property—listed perils only|
|HO-5||Dwelling, personal property, loss of use, liability, medical payments||Open perils|
What perils are covered by homeowners insurance?
If you have an HO-1, HO-2, or HO-3 policy, your coverage will be determined by the perils named in the policy. In general, expect coverage for some—or all—of these common 16 named perils:
- Fire and lightning
- Volcanic eruption
- Riot or civil commotion
- Hail and windstorms
- Damage caused by vehicles
- Damage caused by aircraft
- Theft or malicious mischief
- Falling objects*
- Weight of snow, ice, or sleet*
- Water overflow or discharge from plumbing*
- Water heater cracking*
- Damage from electrical current*
- Frozen pipes*
*not covered in HO-1 policies
Key Takeaway Your coverage level depends on your policy type and the specific perils listed on your policy. Make sure you know which perils need to be covered in your area.
Does home insurance cover natural disasters in South Carolina?
Flooding is not covered by home insurance policies. This includes flooding caused by hurricanes, tropical storms, and dam failures—all of which happen in South Carolina.
This means that purchasing flood insurance in addition to your homeowner’s policy should be at the top of your priority list.
Most Americans purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but some private insurers offer it as well.
South Carolina residents are at risk of wildfires, house fires, and heat damage due to proximity to fire. Fortunately, all basic home insurance policies cover these types of damage.
There have been no earthquake-related disasters reported in South Carolina to date, but the state does record several earthquakes a year, many too small to feel.
Homeowners insurance does not cover any type of “earth movement,” including earthquakes and landslides. Work with a local agent to decide if earthquake insurance makes sense for your location.
Tornadoes are known to touch down in SC from time to time, but if that happens, your standard home insurance will cover it, along with any other type of windstorm.
Snow and ice storms
South Carolina does not get frequent snow, but when it happens it can be devastating. In 2014, a snow and ice storm lasting three days damaged homes, closed businesses, and left 350,000 people without power.
Thankfully, this type of damage is included as a named peril in most SC insurance policies. However, if ice and snow are left built up on or around your home, you may experience water seepage damage, which is not generally covered.
Key Takeaway Make sure you understand which disasters may happen in your area so you can purchase the right coverage ahead of time.
How to file a home insurance claim
If your home is damaged by a peril named in your policy, here’s how to file a claim:
- Contact the police. If you experience loss or damage as a result of criminal activity like vandalism or theft, your first step is to contact the police and file a report. In cases like this, you will need to provide your insurance agent with a copy of the police report and a case number.
- Notify your insurance company. You will want to do this as soon as possible to start the claim process.
- Repair any damage that could lead to injury or more damage to your home. This could be things like covering a hole in the roof, re-hanging a door, or moving debris away from your property.
- Document everything. It can be time-consuming, but the more thorough you are taking photos and making lists, the easier it will be to file the claim with your agent.
MORE: Worst claim mistakes
How to save money on homeowners and car insurance
One of the first recommendations you will hear about saving on homeowners insurance is to bundle it with other policies you have—like your car insurance. It’s true that bundling generally saves you a great deal of money on your premiums.
But before you bundle, make sure you are already getting the best rates that you can by comparing quotes from multiple insurance providers.
According to a 2016 study by the Insurance Information Institute, only 17% of homeowners compare quotes online before renewing their home or car insurance policy!
Want to make sure you are getting the coverage you need at the best price? When you download the Jerry app, our insurance experts will not only find you the best coverage, they will automatically check for a better deal every time your policy is up for renewal.
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