Georgia Coastal Home Insurance Coverage & Rates

02 Oct

Windstorm insurance is not a required coverage in Georgia, but if you live on the coast, it is certainly an insurance you should consider. In many coastal areas your mortgage lender will require that you carry a windstorm policy to make sure your home (and their investment) is full protected.

Windstorm policies are designed to cover damage that is done by wind or hail. These policies only protect against these two perils so you will need to carry a standard homeowners insurance policy to be completely covered.

While windstorm coverage can be expensive (as can homeowners insurance on the coast), it can end up being a financial lifesaver if your home is severely damaged or destroyed by a hurricane or other major weather event. If you are not carrying this coverage you could be on the hook for some major bills. 

Windstorm insurance is available from private insurers in many locations but in some counties, especially coastal areas, it can be difficult to impossible to find both homeowners insurance and windstorm coverage. In these areas, homeowners may need to purchase coverage from the Georgia Underwriting Association (GUI) Fair Plan which acts as an insurer of last resort in Georgia. 

Georgia is no stranger to severe weather

The GUA FAIR plan does write homeowners policy around the state if homeowners are unable to find coverage in the private market but windstorm policies are restricted to the following areas:

Properties on the following Offshore Islands:

  • Butler’s Island Little Sapelo Island
  • Cabbage Island Little Tybee Island
  • Cain Creek Island Little Wassaw Island
  • Champney Island Ossabaw Island
  • Cockspur Island Raccoon Key
  • Colonel’s Island Rainbow Island
  • Cumberland Island Saint Simon’s Island
  • Green Island Sapelo Island
  • Isle of Wight Sea Island
  • Jekyll Island Tybee Island
  • Little Cumberland Island Wassaw Island
  • Little Saint Simon’s Island

 As well as all other properties, wherever located, in the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh.

The coast of Georgia is no stranger to severe weather. While hurricanes don’t hit Georgia with the regularity that Florida gets, hurricanes have done major damage in the Peach State as well as tornadoes and other severe weather.

Because of the severe weather that the coastal areas receive many insurers no longer write insurance policies in these areas and if they do, the policy may exclude wind and hail damage which means that homeowners will need to carry a separate wind and hail policy. 

If you are not sure if your current insurance policy covers wind and hail damage it’s time to break out the policy and look it over. If you have any questions or don’t understand your coverages give your agent a call to make sure you are covered. If your current coverage does not include wind and hail damage you may need to look into a FAIR plan policy.

As with any other homeowners policy, a wind and hail policy does not cover any damage related to flooding. If you are in a flood zone or have a risk of flooding you will need to carry a flood insurance policy as well. 

What does a Wind and Hail Policy Cover?

These policies are designed to cover the gap that is left by a homeowners policy that excludes wind and hail damage. Damage caused by wind or hail is the only damage that these policies cover, all other damage is excluded, including flood damage. 

These policies will pay to repair the damage done to your home by hail or wind. In addition, it will pay to replace your possessions as well as outbuildings or other detached structures on your property. 

GUA FAIR plan policies are actual cash value plans which means that depreciation will be taken into account when determining the value of your home and possessions. It is possible to upgrade to a replacement value policy for an additional fee which is equal to 20% of your premium. It breaks down as follows if you upgrade to replacement cost coverage. 

Replacement Cost Coverage: Replacement Cost coverage is optional. Replacement cost coverage for dwelling coverage is an additional 10% of the base premium. Replacement cost coverage for Contents is an additional 10% of the base premium. Replacement cost coverage for both Building and Contents is an additional 20% of the base premium. 

These plans also exclude loss of use which pays out to cover day to day expenses if your house is so damaged it is unlivable. It covers things such as hotel bills, restaurant expenses and even dry-cleaning costs. This coverage is also an upgrade which requires an additional premium. 

Flood damage from storm surge is never included in a standard private insurance market policy or on a GUA FAIR policy. If your home is at any risk of being flooded you should also consider a flood insurance policy. Flood insurance can be purchased in both the private market as well as through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

A Few Details of the GUA Fair Plan

Homeowners can fill out an application and apply for coverage right from the GUA website or through authorized agents. In order to apply for a policy, you must submit:

  • Completed, signed application 
  • 2 color photos (front and rear of dwelling)
  • Valuation or appraisal
  • Mobile home tie down form if it’s a mobile home/manufactured home

In addition, if there are questions about the home, an inspector may have to come out to look over the property before a policy is issued. In some cases, homeowners may need to make changes to the property to mitigate some risks. 

Coverage limits for FAIR plans start at $25,000 and go up to $2 million so if your home would cost more than $2 million to rebuild you may have to find supplemental coverage in the private market. 

There are other limits that apply to these policies:

  • Limits for Other Structures on property: 10% of your dwelling coverage
  • Unscheduled Personal Property: 50% of dwelling coverage
  • Loss of Use: This is optional coverage which requires an additional premium but is capped at 10% of dwelling coverage
  • Liability: A wind and hail policy doesn’t offer any liability protection, you need a standard homeowners policy for liability coverage. 

When it comes to the deductible, all GUA Fair Windstorm plans come with a 2 percent deductible. This differs from a normal policy that comes with a set deduction. A percentage deductible means that you have to pay a percentage of the total coverage amount as a deductible. As an example, if you are carrying $300,000 in coverage with a 2 percent deductible you would have to pay the first $6,000 before your insurance kicks in to cover the balance. 

Like most insurance companies, the GUA FAIR plan does not sell new policies once a storm has formed so it is never a good idea to wait. Here are the exact restrictions:

  • Hurricane Underwriting Restrictions: No request for increased coverage or new application shall be accepted at any time or period of time during which there exists any portion of a hurricane designated by the U.S. National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center or any successor thereto within the boundaries of 70 degrees west longitude and 20 degrees north latitude until the expiration of 24 hours after such hurricane warning has been lifted.

Tags: , , , , ,