More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Your guide to the best home insurance companies, coverage needs, and educational resources for Georgia homeowners.
If you’re a homeowner in Georgia, you need homeowners insurance to cover damage to your home and personal belongings. Homeowners insurance also covers your legal expenses in the event of a lawsuit, and reimburses you for guest’s medical expenses if they’re injured in your home.
Your coverage needs depend on your home’s location, as risks can vary from home to home in the Peach State. For example, a home in suburban Atlanta is probably fine with a standard replacement cost policy, but a home in Savannah is probably going to need a more comprehensive level of protection due to its proximity to the coast.
Coastal properties in Georgia are especially susceptible to hurricane damage, so homes near the shore should look into more robust dwelling coverages — like extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage. Coastal residents should also make sure they have adequate flood insurance, as flood damage isn’t covered by a standard home insurance policy.
IN THIS ARTICLE
|Insurance company||Avg Policy Cost||A.M. Best Rating||Market Share|
Methodology: Policy cost data courtesy of the State of Georgia Office of Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner. Average policy cost for each insurer is based on a frame-structured home with a $1,000 deductible in the Atlanta area. Market share numbers based on 2017 NAIC data.
Coverage and claims: USAA - USAA only services active and retired U.S. military members and their families, USAA but USAA insures the second most homes in Georgia, behind State Farm. With USAA, you’re getting best-in-class insurance coverage, evidenced by their 5 out of 5 policy offerings rating with consumer insights leader J.D. Power. USAA also earned perfect marks from J.D. Power in their property claims satisfaction study, so you can rest assured that when it comes time to file a claim, you’ll get what you’re owed.
Low rates: Farmers - Peach State residents looking for great coverage at low rates should look no further than Farmers. With Farmers, you can trim those rates even more by taking advantage of their multiple discounts, which include affinity discounts, multi-policy discounts, and a number of home upkeep and safety discounts.
Digital tools: Travelers - If you live in a home that’s fitted with high-tech security systems, safety devices, or loss-prevention devices like water leak sensors, Travelers is the insurer to go with. Apply for a policy with Travelers through Amazon and you can also get a free Amazon Echo Dot. And not only that, but you can take further advantage of their Amazon affiliation by purchasing certain smart-home devices at a discounted rate. These devices can also get you a loss-prevention discount of up to 20%.
Discounts: Liberty Mutual - Liberty Mutual offers comprehensive insurance products, competitive rates, and a bevy of discounts opportunities for Georgia residents. Take advantage of one of Liberty Mutual’s twelve discounts, which include a bundling discount for pairing your home and auto policies, and protective devices discount for protecting your home with security systems and storm-resistant features.
New homebuyers: State Farm - If you’re a first-time homeowner who’s never dealt with an insurance carrier before, State Farm provides one of the more seamless and consumer friendly user experiences in the industry. With a helpful website complete with helpful educational tools, a quick application process, and an excellent app where you can pay your bill and file claims, State Farm offers the easiest home insurance experience in the Georgia market.
As of 2016, the average annual premium in Georgia was $1,200, which is right around the national average. If you own a home in Georgia, your insurance costs will be impacted by the following:
Generally, your lender will require that you get a minimum amount of “hazard” insurance, which is another way of saying a homeowners insurance policy. Georgia residents who just bought a home should look no further than Policygenius for their home insurance needs. We understand how burdensome the insurance-buying process can be, so we’re making it easier.
Your policy’s dwelling coverage is your home’s insured value — this is the part of your policy that reimburses you when your home is damaged by a covered peril. In the event of a loss, you need to pay your deductible before your insurance company reimburses you for the remainder of the damage. In Georgia, there are two kinds of deductibles: a dollar amount deductible (like $500 or $1,000) and a windstorm and hail deductible, which is indicated as a percentage (typically 1% to 5%) of your policy’s dwelling coverage. Your wind and hail deductible is triggered during catastrophes like a tornado or hurricane.
Your other structures coverage covers structures like your garage, fences, sheds, and gazebos. A standard policy may only reimburse you for your other structures’ actual cash value, meaning you’re only receiving claim money for the structures’ depreciated value. Talk to your insurer and see if you can get replacement cost coverage for other structures. If a hurricane or tornado takes your home and your garage or gazebo, you’ll want to make sure all of your structures are covered by their replacement cost.
Your personal property coverage is typically 50% of your home’s insured value and covers the contents of your home up to your personal property coverage limit. This part of your policy is typically only covered by “named perils,” and you’re generally only reimbursed the actual cash value of an item’s worth under a standard policy. If that’s the case, ask your insurer about getting replacement cost coverage instead. Replacement cost is more expensive than actual cash value but provides much better payouts for losses.
Loss-of-use coverage, or your “additional living expenses,” pays for your living expenses if a covered peril displaces you from your home and makes it uninhabitable. In some cases, you’ll need to use your loss-of-use coverage for a year or longer, depending on if your home incurred a total loss or not. Loss-of-use is typically 20% of your home’s dwelling coverage, but your insurer may let you increase your coverage limits.
Liability coverage protects your assets if someone is injured in your home and sues you. It also provides coverage for you if you accidentally cause damage to someone else’s personal property. Most liability limits are anywhere from $100,000 to $500,000.
Covers guests’ medical bills if they’re injured in your home. Medical payments coverage is generally anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
As we touched on earlier, many insurers in Georgia charge a separate wind and hail deductible to cover windstorm or hail damage. Wind and hail deductibles can be expensive, so when you’re setting your deductible, make sure it’s an amount that you’d be able to afford in the event of a loss. Setting your deductible at 5% may keep your insurance premiums down, but if a weather catastrophe wipes out your home, you don’t want to be stuck paying exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses before your insurance kicks in.
If you live near the Georgia coast or on an offshore island and you can’t find windstorm or hail coverage for your home, you can get coverage with a FAIR Plan through the Georgia Insurance Underwriting Association.
Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so Georgia residents living in FEMA-designated flood zones should consider flood insurance.
Flood insurance policies are available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The average NFIP policy cost is $700, according to FEMA. With NFIP coverage, your home is insured up to $250,000 and personal property up to $100,000. For more robust flood coverage, see if your insurance company offers excess flood insurance, a private flood policy, or a flood endorsement to your home insurance policy. Certain surplus lines, a group of highly specialized insurance companies, may also be able to hook you up with flood protection if you can’t get it through your home insurance company.
Earthquakes aren’t the most halting threat in the Peach State, but residents should still consider earthquake insurance if they live close to a fault line. Earthquakes aren’t covered by home insurance, so you’ll need a separate policy or endorsement. Since Georgia is a low-risk state for tremor damage, you can find coverage on the cheap, too.
Your home insurance policy typically covers certain types of water damage, but only if the damage was sudden and unexpected. For more comprehensive coverage for water damage — such as coverage for frozen pipes or sewage overflow, along with higher coverage limits, you’ll need a water backup coverage endorsement for your policy.
Not where you live? We've got you covered, check out our guide to homeowners insurance in your state
About the author
Pat Howard is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in homeowners insurance. He has been featured on Property Casualty 360, MSN, and more. Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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