Purchasing insurance is a given for homeowners. It’s a requirement if you’re using a home mortgage loan and it’s also smart to protect your largest financial investment should you get hit with a natural disaster, fire or theft. But for homeowners along the coast where high winds from tropical storms and hurricanes can do serious damage, additional coastal insurance policies may be necessary.
When it comes to coverage, homeowners may need to consider a wind and hail policy. Sometimes insurance companies will offer this separate coastal insurance as part of their homeowners’ insurance package, but be aware that not all insurance companies make this available.
In fact, in 1971, many homeowners along the South Carolina coast were unable to purchase additional wind and hail coverage. So the state Legislature required the insurance industry to make these types of policies available to home and business owners along the coast.
As a result of that legislation, the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association was created. Often referred to as the “beach plan” or “wind pool,” this association is made up of insurance companies that offer wind and hail insurance to people in the coastal areas who are unable to purchase this type of coverage through the standard insurance market.
Anyone can purchase through the association as long as their property is within the defined coastal areas (territories are defined by state law). The association is seen as a market of last resort and working with companies in the standard insurance market may end up being more cost effective. As with any insurance, it’s best to have your independent insurance agent shop around for you. Check out the article, How Can an Independent Insurance Agent Save you Money Money for more information. You may request quotes from members of the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association and non-members alike. Ask questions and make sure you have a good understanding of what the policy covers and the deducible and premium costs as well as the process for filing a claim.
For example, policies in the beach plan or wind pool cover losses from wind and hail damage only. This policy doesn’t cover flooding so you may want to look into a separate flood insurance policy.
The association provides up to $1.3 million of protection (structure, contents, loss of use or increased cost of construction) for personal properties, such as dwellings, mobile homes and condominium units. Commercial properties can be insured for up to $2.5 million.
Note that these policies are written for one year only. Homeowners have to submit a new application and premium payment each year.
If you live near the coast and think you may need additional coastal insurance, such as a wind and hail policy, consult with your existing insurance company to see if coastal insurance is an option or can be packaged with your homeowner’s insurance. If the company doesn’t provide it, check with other insurance companies as more along the South Carolina are beginning to provide such coverage.
If you’re still having trouble finding coastal insurance, see if you live in one of the designated coastal areas and then apply to the South Carolina Wind and Hail Underwriting Association to be part of its coverage pool.
It requires a few extra steps but having that added insurance can bring you peace of mind – especially when the next hurricane or tropical storm rolls onto the coast.