Extreme weather can wear away at your home

Pennsylvania experiences a variety of climates thanks to its geographic location and diverse topography. Pennsylvania homeowners should consider purchasing some kind of home insurance policy for protection against severe weather, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other unpredictable non-weather related events.

How Much Does Pennsylvania Home Insurance Cost?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, in 2010, the average annual premium for homeowners insurance in Pennsylvania was $716. Insurance companies consider several factors when determining the cost of a homeowner’s insurance.

A homeowner’s insurance premium depends on factors including housing materials, house location, distance from a fire department or a fire hydrant, square footage, security devices, deductibles and discounts on the policy, the policy holder’s claims history, and the policy holder’s credit rating. Frame houses usually cost more to insure than brick houses, and new houses are less expensive to insure. Your distance from local fire protection will also affect your premium.

Having multiple policies from the same company, such as bundling your home and auto insurance together, may entitle the policy holder to a discount on their premium. Discounts may also be awarded for installing safety products like smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, dead-bolt locks, electronic burglar alarms, and impact-resistant roofing.

What Does It Cover?

A homeowner’s insurance policy covers against damages to your home structure, any detached structures, and its contents from fire and smoke, windstorm, hail, riot or civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, vandalism, and theft. A homeowner’s insurance policy usually excludes coverage of earthquake, flood, war, and/or nuclear hazard damage. Personal liability coverage, which protects against claims and lawsuits that result from you being liable for another person’s injuries or property damage, is another important part of your home insurance policy.

Do I Have to Get Home Insurance in Pennsylvania?

Home insurance is not required by law in Pennsylvania. However, 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. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has more information for consumers about home insurance.

Optional Coverage to Consider

  • Flood. All homeowner’s insurance policies exclude loss due to flooding. Flooding, as defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), is the partial or complete overflow of inland or tidal waters, unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, and mudslides caused by floods. Areas prone to flooding are encouraged to purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. Low-risk areas should consider flood insurance, since 20% to 25% of flood claims come from low-risk areas.
  • Fire and Lightning. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies usually cover fire and lightning damage and offer discounts if you install fire prevention equipment, including smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler systems. Insurers will determine the cost of your premium based partly on a home’s distance from a fire department or a fire hydrant.
  • Hazard. Hazard coverage is standard in most homeowner’s insurance policies, and protects the homeowner from physical damages to their home. Be aware of what perils are included or excluded in your policy, and ask your insurance provider about additional coverage or endorsements as necessary.
  • Windstorm. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies will cover damage caused by a windstorm or hail, including damage from falling objects. Keeping an inventory of all belongings will make the claims process much easier in the event that a hurricane, windstorm, or hail causes damage to your home structure or personal property. After a damaging storm, contact your insurance company immediately, take photographs or video of all the damages before clean-up or repairs, and document all interaction with your insurance company.

Mobile Home Insurance in Pennsylvania

A mobile home insurance policy includes coverage for property damage, casualty, and liabilities, as well as loss of use coverage in the event that damage to the mobile home renders it unlivable. Loss of use temporarily covers your added expenses for housing, meals, and storage if you are displaced from your home. Mobile home insurance may not be as standardized as a homeowner’s insurance policy, and may differ on which perils are covered and which are excluded.

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