Properly Insuring Your Coastal Home in Charleston, Mt Pleasant, Daniel Island, Isle of Palms, Sullivan's Island, Kiawah, Seabrook, and all around the Low-country.
Many folks who are building a new home or buying a home in the Charleston SC area want to know what types of insurance coverage they will need.
There are 3 Basic Insurance Policies
1) Federal Flood Insurance
Federal flood insurance is available on Kiawah from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP offers flood insurance for residential homes up to a maximum coverage of $250,000 for the dwelling and $100,000 for contents. NFIP flood insurance is sometimes referred to as base flood insurance as it is the first layer of flood insurance available.
If you are using financing to purchase your home, flood insurance will be required by your lender. If you are not financing, flood insurance is optional, but most Kiawah owners opt to carry flood insurance as it is prudent, and the price for flood coverage is relatively inexpensive.
In many cases, the seller of the property will have an existing flood insurance policy which you may be able to “assume.” Your insurance agent can help you confirm whether or not the seller’s flood policy is assumable.
If the seller’s flood policy is not assumable or the seller doesn’t carry flood insurance, you will be able to purchase a new flood policy. The NFIP requires a *30-day wait period for a new flood policy to become effective, which they will waive on transactions where the purchaser is using lender financing. Note: A current elevation certificate is required in order to provide a quote for a new flood insurance policy.
One of the factors affecting the cost of flood insurance is the specific flood zone the property is located in. Most of Kiawah is rated as Flood Zone A, with a few sections rated as Flood Zone V. Other factors affecting the cost of flood insurance are the height of the first floor of the house relative to the Base Flood Elevation, and the number of foundation vents.
Finally, keep in mind, the premium for your federal flood insurance will be the same with any agent you use, as there is only one seller, i.e. the NFIP which is operated by FEMA, and all agents receive the same price.
2) Excess Flood Insurance
In addition to base flood insurance, “Excess flood insurance” may also be available. Excess flood insurance offers protection for flood-related damage to your property over and above the $250,000 dwelling & $100,000 contents coverage offered by the base NFIP flood coverage.
Your lender will not require you to carry excess flood insurance if you are financing, and Excess flood coverage can be obtained by your insurance agent from a variety of carriers. While most excess flood policies will require you to carry the underlying federal flood insurance, there is not a *30-day waiting period for an
excess flood policy to become effective. The factors affecting the price of your Excess flood insurance will typically be the same as the factors affecting the price of your base flood insurance.
Note: It’s estimated that about 50% of high value homes, as defined by a “dwelling value” >$1mm, on Kiawah and in other coastal areas opt for some level of excess flood insurance. The higher the value of the home, the greater the likelihood that the owner will carry some level of excess flood insurance.
3) Homeowner's Insurance
The other recommended coverage is traditional Homeowner’s insurance coverage similar to the policy you most likely have in-place on your primary residence. Make sure the homeowner’s quotes you receive are from A-rated carriers and offer “fullreplacement cost” protection for damage related to all the standard homeowner’s perils (fire, lightning, etc.,) and also include protection for damage related to wind & hail (i.e. hurricanes). There are a variety of factors that can influence the price of your homeowner’s insurance and your agent should give you a detailed explanation of each coverage.
Like flood insurance, homeowner’s insurance will be required by your lender if you are financing and is optional, but recommended, if you are not financing.
One consideration that can influence the cost of your Kiawah insurance coverage is quoting the Kiawah coverage “stand-alone” versus combining your coverage at Kiawah with your primary residence, autos etc.
Note: most of the traditional homeowners insurance carriers like State Farm, Allstate, Nationwide, Travelers, etc. have stopped writing new insurance policies in coastal areas including Kiawah.
The most competitive pricing for insurance may be available by the various Standard Market or “admitted carriers” that will write homeowners insurance on Kiawah such as PURE, AIG, Chubb, and ACE. These carriers will offer coverage on Kiawah but will have some minimum coverage amounts (usually $1mm dwelling value) and other criteria, including storm protection features, the home must meet, in order to qualify for their coverage. They will also require you to include your other personal insurance coverage, ex: your auto, collectibles, personal umbrella liability and any other resi-dences owned, if applicable, with your Kiawah residence, for a “packaged” or “multi-line” quote. In effect, they want to cover your whole personal insurance account.
If your new home on Kiawah is going to be your primary and/or your only residence, PURE and AIG will write your Kiawah home and will generally require a minimum of 3 lines of business … example: Kiawah home, excess flood and auto, in order to write your account.
If you decide to insure your new Kiawah home separately from your primary home which is located elsewhere, be sure to tell your insurance agent that you have a new home at Kiawah and to “extend liability” coverage from the primary residence to your Kiawah residence and to include the new residence on your umbrella liability policy.
Finally, be sure to utilize the services of an insurance agency that deals with coastal insurance on a regular basis as they will have the expertise and experience necessary to properly design your coverage. An agency specializing in coastal insurance will also have access to the most competitive markets.
We would love to assist you if you have any questions about Builders Risk insurance or would like to request a quote for your upcoming construction project.
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Maury Donnelly & Parr offers direct appointments with the most widely recognized and highest rated insurance companies in the industry including Chubb, PURE and AIG.
We're an independent insurance agency, able to offer our clients a selection of quotes from multiple insurance companies, allowing our clients to choose the coverage option that best fits their needs.
Maury Donnelly & Parr also offers access to several surplus lines carriers and specialty insurance markets for those "harder to insure" risks that don’t qualify for the standard insurance markets.