A home is generally the largest purchase a person makes in a lifetime, so it only makes sense to protect that investment.
Lenders require mortgage holders to have property insurance, but the level of coverage varies, giving homeowners plenty of options.
Tommy Sweeney, owner of Country Financial, said the minimum home insurance coverage requirements vary from lender to lender but many require specific coverage.
The basic form, known in the industry as HO-1, covers damage from aircraft or vehicles, explosions, fire and lightning, hail and windstorms, riots, smoke, theft, vandalism and volcanic eruption. It doesn’t cover personal liability for those injured on the property or personal belongings.
Many lenders don’t believe HO-1 provides enough coverage, so it isn’t widely available or commonly used.
The more common policy used by homeowners is the HO-2 broad form. It covers everything under the HO-1 policy plus accidental discharges or overflow of water or steam, sudden and accidental damage to water heating systems, heating, air conditioning or automatic fire protective sprinkler systems or a house appliance.
It also covers the sudden or accidental damage from an artificially generated electrical current.
The HO-2 policy is also nicknamed the “peril policy” because damages to anything other that events listed on the policy are not covered.
The most popular policy is the HO-3 special form, which covers all disasters except those specifically excluded. It also includes personal liability coverage.
Still, the HO-3 policy has exclusions including any animals owned by the insurer, birds, rodents, vermin, earth movement, flood, foundation issues, mold, fungus and wet rot, pollution and corrosion, power failure, neglect, theft, vandalism and frozen pipes in vacant houses, and wear and tear.
A higher level of coverage is the HO-5 policy, which is typical offered to those who own a new, very well-maintained home in close proximity to fire protection services. The HO-5 policy protects property owners from all perils, with the exception of those excluded in the policy.
Sweeney said the best recommendation he can give is property owners is to buy a full replacement value policy that will enable them to rebuild their homes and replace the contents in case of a total loss.
“The minimum coverage is what your house could be sold for,” he said.
Discounted premiums are sometimes available to people who own newer homes, have a new shingled or metal roof, or have a fire hydrant or fire station nearby.
While Golden Isles residents don’t give much thought to earthquakes, Sweeney said a fault line is located not far from here, so he recommends earthquake coverage – which is not expensive – to his customers.
The Brevard fault line can be found in North Georgia, but the closest seismic threat generally originates in three areas north and west of Charleston, South Carolina.
It’s difficult to give a price range of costs for property insurance because the contents of a home often determine the rate.
“There is no blanket rate for a specific neighborhood,” he said.
Property owners in the Golden Isles should also budget for flood insurance. Sweeney said the rates are determined by elevation, and if flood insurance is required, it must remain in place for the life of the mortgage.
“Flood insurance can be a make or break for homeowners,” he said.
Once a mortgage is paid off, homeowners have the ability to drop coverage, but Sweeney said the risk is not worth the savings.