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Best Georgia Homeowners Insurance

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Weather incidents account for more than half of all homeowners insurance claims, with wind, pipes freezing and bursting, roof and flashing leaks and ice among the major causes of home damage during weather events.

Georgia residents aren’t excluded from this list of incidents, and add tornadoes to the mix, too. If you check out the news on May 25, 2017, Georgia had encountered 102 tornadoes and had the highest number of tornadoes at that point in the year.

Whether you’re looking for a new insurance policy or have never taken out homeowners’ insurance before, there are several things you should know before you make a final decision. Here are the facts about homeowners’ insurance in Georgia, including details on what a basic policy does cover, and what it doesn’t.

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The Best Homeowners Insurance in Georgia

Average Annual Premium in Georgia

According to a national study done by the Insurance Information Institute, the national average for a standard home insurance policy is $1,034 per year. Georgia is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to average national premium. The $1,089 annual rate for home insurance ranks #22. Georgia’s premiums aren’t stellar, but are much less than its southern neighbor, Florida, which has an even higher average homeowners insurance rate of $2,055.

Inclement Weather in Georgia

Georgia residents know there is a large variation in weather incidents and weather phenomena throughout their state. Southern Georgia deals with tropical thunderstorms, while Georgia northerners can even be accosted by snow. Georgia’s tornadoes, which are usually relatively weak, can still cause damage.

Most of the major hurricane weather activity Georgia encounters ends up being the remains of storms that hit Florida. Georgia sees a great deal of tropical storm force winds and precipitation, all of which come with a flood risk. Those along the coast are at the greatest risk, but anywhere in Georgia there is a low-lying area near one of the numerous lakes, rivers, or control channels, Georgians are at risk for flooding.

Flood Insurance

While many disasters are covered under a basic homeowner’s policy, flooding is not one of them. When you are researching homeowners insurance in Georgia, you must consider flood insurance, which is purchased separately and added to your basic policy. It will give you the coverage you would need if flooding weather events should cause water damage to your home and belongings.

Flood insurance standard rates are regulated by the government. The premiums themselves will vary depending on where you live within the flood zone for your area. According to FEMA, the average premium for flood insurance is $700. This amount would be above and beyond the premium on your basic home insurance policy.

Georgia is pocketed and veined with natural bodies of water. If you live near Lake Strom Thurman or both the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, you are in a flood zone. Rates for these areas would be more than if you lived in an area that is at a higher elevation. It is unfortunate that some do not consider flood insurance until they hear of a storm heading their way with flooding potential. Don’t wait till that type of situation arises, as it’s often too late.

Finding the Best Premium for Your Home

The ideal time to consider your homeowner’s insurance is before you move. When you are shopping for a home, new or existing, there are many factors to consider that will ultimately determine how much you will pay for homeowner’s insurance. These are several questions you need to ask when you want to find the best homeowner’s insurance:

Do you live in a flood zone? One of the first things you should look at is where the home sits within the flood zone in that area. The deeper into the flood zone, the higher your premium will be for your insurance. Weather, in general, can also play a factor. If you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters, the cost to insure your home will be higher.

What type of home do you live in? Your home’s value is dependent upon how much it will cost to be rebuilt, not a market value. There are differences between foundation types and building material types. Wood frame homes are considered riskier, and therefore, the cost will be greater. Age of the home plays an important factor as well. All of these will contribute to the overall premium you will pay.

What do you own? How much your policy will cover your possessions is a percentage of what the home is worth, generally 50-75 percent. This, however, does not completely cover specialty items such as jewelry or collectibles. Special insurance to cover these items is needed; this add-on will also add on to the insurance premium.

Where do/will you live? The neighborhood you live in could determine if you will pay a higher rate. An area that has a higher population density or increased crime could warrant a higher insurance rate, while living in a smaller gated community help you achieve a lower premium. Other factors can be the proximity you home is to a fire hydrant and the overall claim history of the neighborhood.

Do you own pets? In some cases, it could be beneficial to obtain an increased level of liability protection for your home. If you own a dangerous breed of dog, or even if you have firearms in the home, purchasing added liability protection (called an umbrella policy) may be wise.

How much risk do you want to assume? Your deductible is the biggest area of wiggle room you have that will determine how much premium you will pay. If you want to assume more of the risk with a higher deductible, then you will pay a lower premium.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

There are five components of a basic insurance policy:

Dwelling: This covers the home itself; it could also include an attached garage, porch, or deck. Set the limit for coverage based on how much it would cost to rebuild your home. You are able to set your deductible limit. This will go hand-in-hand with your premium amount. The lower your deductible, the higher your premium will be, and a higher deductible will lower your premium.

Other structures: This will cover structures on your property such as a detached garage, shed, gazebo, and fencing. Coverage is typically 10% of the dwelling coverage limit.

Personal property: This covers personal belongings. Coverage is usually around 50% of what the dwelling coverage limit is. There are, however, specific limits on certain items like jewelry, collectibles, and forms of currency. A policy rider for valuables can protect you further for the high dollar items you own.

Additional living expenses for loss of use: This is the portion of the policy that would cover expenses incurred should your home become damaged or destroyed by a covered event, and you need to relocate temporarily. It is also subject to limits. Typically, 20% of the dwelling coverage limit and for a specified period, usually 12 to 24 months maximum.

Liability: This coverage is designed to protect you if someone injures themselves on your property. It will cover their damages and medical expenses. It will also cover you should you need to be defended in a lawsuit filed against you.

What Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover?

What is not covered will vary from company to company. Some insurance companies offer added coverage as part of their basic policy, while most offer added coverage as an add-on, called a rider or floater, for an increased cost. These are the common events not covered by a basic home policy:

Flooding event: Any type of flood water is not covered under a basic home policy. Flood Insurance can be purchased to help cover any losses from a flooding event up to the policy’s stated limits. 

Ground shifting: Earthquakes and landslides are not covered under a basic home policy. Earthquake Insurance can be purchased to help cover any losses from a ground-shifting event up to the policy’s stated limits.

Water Backup: Sewage lines from the house to the main line are not covered under a basic home policy. If you had a backup into your home, you would not be covered. Water backup and sump overflow can be purchased to help cover any losses from a water backup, even up to the policy’s stated limits.

High Dollar Possessions: A basic home policy has limits on high dollar possessions. Scheduled personal property can be purchased to help cover any losses from loss or theft of your high dollar possessions such as jewelry, collectibles, and currency.

Most Affordable Counties

Your insurance rate depends on many factors. One of them is where you live. If you live in a county that is more prone to flooding or has a higher rate of rainfall per year, then your insurance rates will be much higher than a county that is on higher ground.

Five of the counties you will expect to pay the lowest insurance rates:

  • Muscogee
  • DeKalb
  • Cobb
  • Chatham 
  • Fulton

Most Expensive Counties

Five of the counties you will expect to pay the highest insurance rates:

  • Randolph
  • Richmond
  • Bibb
  • Wilcox
  • Dougherty

Top Picks for Georgia

The following five companies are all highly rated companies, and all offer basic homeowner’s policies. They differ slightly in their additional coverages and extras that are ancillary to insurance.

Benzinga provides a brief overview of the company, how they are viewed in customer service, and how they differ from a standard insurance company.

Pros
  • Ease of online service or through an agent
  • Clear claims process
  • Useful mobile app
Cons
  • Average customer satisfaction for claims
  • Optional coverage like yard and garden not available in every state

1. Allstate

Allstate was founded in 1931. A.M. Best gives Allstate an “A+” financial strength rating. In 2015, Allstate was awarded one of the “Most Admired Companies” by Fortune magazine for the Property and Casualty category, and was number 84 on the Fortune 100 list of companies.

Allstate strives to live up to its motto of “You’re in Good Hands.” To prove the company has their customers in mind, they have developed tools that help identify what claims are prone to certain areas and how to deal with them.

Allstate differs from other companies because of:

  • Unique innovations such as “Good Home,” a digital tool that looks at the area you live in, and tells you what are the major claim threats in that area and how to be protected against them.
  • They offer a variety of discounts like first time homebuyers and claim-free, to help their customers save money.
Pros
  • A long and considerable list of discounts that can save you hundreds of dollars
  • An excellent roster of online tools, including a comprehensive coverage calculator, and a highly-rated app for iPhone and Android systems
  • Ability to manage and track claims directly from computers or mobile devices
Cons
  • Decent financial stability, but could be improved
  • Customer service and claims handling not always consistent or satisfactory
  • Certain natural disasters, including floods and earthquakes not covered under a traditional policy — a rider needs to be purchased that includes the specific coverage if needed

2. Liberty Mutual

Established in 1912 as the Massachusetts Employee’s Insurance Association, Liberty Mutual was a provider of workers comp. It became Liberty Mutual in 1917 and began selling to all states in 1938. The company has an “A” rating with A.M. Best, and is listed at 75 on the Fortune 100 list of companies.

Liberty Mutual has the ability to identify coverage gaps with “Coverage Compass.” By knowing where the gaps exist, the company can help you design a policy that will give you coverage designed for your situation.

Liberty Mutual differs from other companies because:

  • It does not offer additional living expenses as part of its basic insurance policy. This is a feature that can be added to your policy. It comes as part of a package that increases home coverage and personal belonging coverage.
  • It offers several discounts like claims-free and protected devices. Those would include adding security devices to your home such as deadbolt locks and smoke detectors.

3. Travelers

Established in 1864 on a friendly claim of travel protection, Travelers is rated “A++” according to A.M. Best and is listed at 99 on the Fortune 100 list of companies. Travelers is also listed on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies.

Travelers is one of the oldest property and casualty companies. It has a strong reputation and is the only property and casualty company listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which adds to their overall strength.

Travelers differs from other companies because:

  • It offers a discount for an environmentally-safe “green home,” should your home have a certification.
  • Other discounts are available, such as claims-free and protected devices. Those would include sprinkler systems and home security systems.

4. USAA

USAA was established in 1922 and holds an “A++ (Superior)” rating by A.M. Best. Forresters Research, Inc. has also top-ranked USAA from 2013-2015 in the Customer Experience Index. USAA is listed at 102 on the Fortune 500 list of companies.

USAA is unique in that it only provides policies to members and former members of the armed forces and their families. USAA consistently receives recognition for its outstanding customer service.

USAA differs from other companies because:

  • It is offered only to active and former military members and their families.
  • As part of the basic policy, it offers flood and earthquake insurance. Other companies only offer these two as an add-on and at an increased cost.
  • USAA offers replacement cost coverage as part of a basic policy. Your claim will not have a depreciation factor on the items you are seeking to replace up to the limits of your policy.
Pros
  • Website provides helpful information
  • A nationwide network of over 18,000 agents
  • Sizable discount on auto policies for customers who also purchase life insurance
Cons
  • Premiums may be higher than some competitors
  • Less flexibility in term lengths

5. State Farm

Established in 1922, State Farm has an A++ (Superior) rating from A.M. Best. State Farm ranks 33 on the list of Fortune 100 companies and is the largest provider of home insurance in the U.S.

The company has the motto “like a good neighbor” and envision being the customer’s first and the best choice.

State Farm differs from other companies because:

  • They offer options for home security. Plans from ADT and Canary are available, and you will receive a discount on your policy if you choose this option.

Keep in mind that if your auto insurance company offers homeowners insurance, the first place you would want to look is with them. Most companies offer bundle packages that help you save money by having multiple policies with that company.

Take Action

While Georgia residents do not have the highest rates, they’re also not paying the lowest rates in the nation. If you are considering moving within the state, take a look at where you live now and where you plan to move. The changes in premium for your policy could be significant.

In addition, with much of the state near a water source, flood insurance should also be a major consideration.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) Q: If my home is destroyed due to fire or weather, how long will it take for my insurance claim to be settled and my home to be repaired?

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1) Q: If my home is destroyed due to fire or weather, how long will it take for my insurance claim to be settled and my home to be repaired?
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From start to finish, the process could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months. The variables that play the largest role are the size of the loss and the insurance company you choose. Check her for the cheapest homeowners insurance quote.

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2) Q: What can I do to ensure that my home is properly covered?

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2) Q: What can I do to ensure that my home is properly covered?
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The most important thing you can do is have a conversation with your agent or carrier to be sure you have the right amount of coverage. Avoid putting just the minimum coverage on your home: Remember, if your home is destroyed, you need to have enough coverage to rebuild the entire home, so you’ll want to insure it for more than just the market value. Also, notify your insurer of renovations or changes that you make to your home — and don’t forget to check to be sure you have enough liability coverage. Get the best quote today from our top providers.

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3) Q: What does home insurance cover?

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3) Q: What does home insurance cover?
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Most modern home insurance policies cover your home for nearly all risks. However, every policy has exclusions, among which you’ll find things like neglect, wear and tear, and ordinance or law. Land movement, including earthquakes, and floods are excluded as well but can be insured with a separate policy. Personal property and liability coverage is also part of most home insurance policies. Get the best policy quote here.

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