Severe storms can be potentially costly

Georgia’s proximity to Florida means it is often affected by hurricanes striking the Florida panhandle as well as storms that come close to the Georgia coastline. Wildfires along the Georgia Florida border are not uncommon during the state’s dry season. Georgia homeowners should consider purchasing home insurance in order to be prepared for the potentially extreme and destructive weather scenarios.

How Much Does Georgia Home Insurance Cost?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2010, the average annual premium for homeowners insurance in Florida was $833. Premium costs will vary depending on a home’s age, condition, its construction materials, and location. Older homes generally cost more to insure than newer homes because of their aging infrastructure and the fact that they were not built according to modern building codes. Your premium may also be higher if your home has features that constitute greater hazards, such as swimming pools, trampolines, playscapes, and wood stoves or furnaces.

If you are unable to obtain insurance through the private market, you may be able to obtain a basic policy through Georgia’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan through the Georgia Underwriting Association or independent insurance agents.

What Does It Cover?

According to the Georgia Office of Insurance, a standard home insurance policy helps protect homeowners from financial loss in the event that their home is damaged or destroyed by perils named in the policy, such as fire, theft, or severe weather. Additional living expenses coverage comes into play if your home becomes uninhabitable after sustaining serious damage and you must find another place to stay while it is being repaired or replaced. In addition, insurance companies in Georgia provide liability coverage to protect homeowners from claims and lawsuits if you or a family member named in your policy causes injury to another person. Liability coverage in Georgia is included in most standard homeowner’s insurance policies but may have certain exclusions and limitations. Talk to your agent or broker about any exclusions in your liability coverage that you feel expose you to unnecessary financial risk.

Do I Have to Get Home Insurance in Georgia?

Home insurance is not required by law in Georgia. But buying insurance can help protect your house and property against damage from unforeseen circumstances, and liability for accidents that injure other people or damage their property.

Optional Coverage to Consider

  • Flood. It is a common misconception that flood damage is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. To be covered in the event of flooding, Georgia homeowners generally must purchase a separate policy or endorsement. Participating Georgia communities have access to flood insurance backed by the federal government through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which allows you to insure your home only, or its contents as well for an additional premium.
  • Fire and Lightning. Fire and lightning are covered perils in most standard homeowner’s insurance policies. However, since some policies may exclude them, it’s important to read over your policy carefully to ensure you have this important coverage. Dry conditions in Georgia over the years have been known to spur destructive wildfires, including the 2007 Bugaboo Scrub Fire, the largest fire in the history of both Georgia and Florida.
  • Hazard. Hazard insurance may refer to the portion of your policy that protects your home, its contents, and any outbuildings, such as a detached garage or tool shed. When buying hazard insurance, keep in mind that the minimum amount required to satisfy your lender may not be enough to protect you financially in the event that your home ends up a total loss. Consider the benefit of insuring your home at replacement cost, rather than actual cash value, so that you are less likely to be stuck footing the bill for the amount it costs to rebuild your home that your insurance did not cover.
  • Windstorm. Windstorm and hail are perils that are covered in most standard homeowner’s insurance policies. However, policies for homes along the Georgia coast may exclude this important coverage, and you may have to purchase this coverage separately. Often, policyholders will have to pay a separate deductible if their home is damaged as the result of a hurricane event. Read your policy carefully and talk to your agent or broker to ensure that you are adequately insured in the event of windstorm, hail, tornadoes, hurricanes, or tropical storms.
  • Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement. If you have certain possessions that require a higher level of insurance coverage, you may want to consider a scheduled personal property endorsement, or personal article floater. This endorsement will provide broader coverage for expensive items you own like fine jewelry and watches; fine silverware; rare antiques, coins, and stamps; and collections of other expensive equipment. With an endorsement, your items are itemized and described in detail on your policy in the event they are lost to various covered perils.

Mobile Home Insurance in Georgia

Mobile home insurance in Georgia is specially designed to meet the needs of owners of mobile homes, also known as manufactured homes. Mobile home insurance is similar in many respects to traditional homeowner’s insurance in that it typically covers your home, its contents, and any outbuildings, such as a tool shed. However, mobile home policies take into account the risks mobile homes face from perils like windstorm and hail due to the way they are constructed. As with homeowner’s insurance, mobile insurance may also include liability coverage and medical payments coverage in case someone gets injured on your premises and you are found legally liable.

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