Buying home insurance in West Virginia can be one of the most important decisions you make. Though property crime rates are low in West Virginia, the significant damage to properties from yearly flooding and winter storms can make the cheaper insurance premiums in this state a worthwhile expenditure. Learning more about how home insurance works in West Virginia can give you a picture of what to expect as you begin the search for the best home insurance for you.
- Fun fact: Almost 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests.
Average Rates in West Virginia
West Virginia home insurance is relatively inexpensive, with $940 average premiums that offer several hundred dollars of savings when compared with the national average of $1,211. In rankings published by the Insurance Information Institute that order home insurance premiums from most to least expensive, West Virginia places 39th. West Virginia home insurance premiums most closely resemble those of Michigan and Pennsylvania, with $942 and $931 average premiums, respectively.
According to the Insurance Information Institutes’ same rankings, West Virginia is the 12th most expensive state for renters’ insurance. Even so, the average premiums of $188 are a mere $8 over the national average. Renters’ insurance is relatively stable in pricing nationwide – in fact, three other states (Wyoming, Florida, and South Carolina) share the exact same average renters’ insurance price.
West Virginia Legal Insurance Requirements
There’s no law on the books saying you have to get home insurance in West Virginia.But not only is it recommended to protect your home, it’s also a required feature of nearly all mortgage agreements. If you don’t choose your own home insurance, you may even be placed on a more expensive one by your mortgage lender.
In West Virginia, coverage applies to three general areas:
- Physical damage to your home or belongings from “perils,” or damaging events
- Theft of personal belongings
- Legal liability, in cases where there is injury or damage due to negligence on the part of you or your family.
West Virginia also has a FAIR plan offering coverage for fire, wind, hail, aircraft, vehicles, smoke, and explosion perils. Up to $200,000 worth of coverage is available for a private dwelling – or $500,000 for a commercial property. These plans are only available to homes that cannot meet the requirements for standard market insurance, and certain fire safety standards must be met before you can use a FAIR plan.
But what does standard market insurance in West Virginia look like? Generally, you will be offered one of the following six forms:
- The Basic Form (HO-1) protects both your home and your belongings from the following perils: fire/lightning; removal of property endangered by a peril; windstorm or hail; vandalism or malicious mischief; theft; damage from vehicles or aircraft; explosion; riot or civil commotion; glass breakage.
- The Broad Form (HO-2) offers the same benefits as the Basic Form. In addition, it covers the following perils: building collapse; freezing and accidental discharge of water and steam from plumbing, heating, and air conditioning; falling objects; weight of ice, snow, or sleet.
- The Special Form (HO-3), rather than covering for a list of named perils will insure your dwelling against any peril for which there is not an exclusion listed on your policy. These exclusions will always include earthquake and flood damages, for which you will need additional endorsements or insurance. For personal belongings, Broad Form coverage (based on named perils) still applies.
- The Tenants Broad Form (HO-4) is essentially Broad Form coverage that applies only to your personal belongings within the rented residence. Insurance for the structure of the building is the responsibility of the landlord.
- The Comprehensive Form (HO-5) offers the same “open peril” coverage as the Special Form, but extends it so that personal property will also be insured for everything save damage from exceptions named in your policy. This is the most expensive type of insurance coverage in West Virginia.
- Special Condominium Form (HO-6) is similar to the Tenant’s Broad Form, save that it will also protect the interior of the condominium owner’s unit (rooms, floors, walls, and ceilings) in a manner similar to dwelling coverage. It does not, however, insure the entire structure of the condominium complex.
Common Risk Factors in West Virginia
In the most recent Statewide Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan, West Virginia’s department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management ranked 23 natural hazards to West Virginia statewide. Two important factors were considered: the vulnerability of West Virginia to the hazard, and potential losses based on local risk assessments across the state. Rankings of hazards exist on a five-point scale from High Risk (5) to Low Risk (1).
The hazards classified as the highest risk in West Virginia are:
According to the Standard Hazard Mitigation Plan, flooding is by far the greatest risk to West Virginia property. In fact, since 1954, 44 of the 50 Federal Disaster Declarations in West Virginia have been made because of flood damages. While most commonly floods occur in “floodplains” alongside rivers, West Virginia is also particularly susceptible to flash flooding, which can occur anywhere.
While home insurance does not offer flood damage protection, flood insurance can be purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Your community needs to participate in the program and follow regulatory standards before they can offer this insurance – in West Virginia, 261 communities participate in NFIP.
Roof collapse from the weight of ice, sleet, and snow pose a threat to West Virginia properties during winter storm events. The expenses these storms cause can be staggering – a winter storm based in Southern West Virginia in 2012 resulted in over $750K in property damage. Insurance for Winter.
For insurance against property damage from snow weight, you need Broad Form coverage or higher. The West Virginia FAIR plan will not be able to pay for most of the damages associated with winter storms.
West Virginia properties are also at risk from experiencing collapse and damage from landslides, due to the mountainous and humid environment. Unfortunately, landslides are both a common exception for home insurance coverage, and there are seldom endorsements available for this type of peril.
Insurance Demographics/Statistics in West Virginia
You may wonder: what exactly affects the price of home insurance? What process do insurance companies go through when deciding whether a person is at “high risk” or “low risk” of filing an insurance claim, and therefore whether they should pay higher or lower rates? Insurance companies make many considerations – let’s explore some major ones below.
Your Home’s Value
Your home’s value is the basis on which much of your home insurance is priced – dwelling coverage, personal belongings, and even loss of use all have coverage limits based on a percentage of your home’s value. Home value can be calculated either in terms of replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement value is the cost of replacing your home using similar materials, and with current construction labor costs. Actual cash value, on the other hand, is the cost of rebuilding minus any deductions to value due to depreciation.
The value of a home is not based on its sale value – the cost of the material components of the home and labor are the only important factors. Included in sale value are additional considerations, like the value of land and the current housing market.
In West Virginia, the average home value is $107,762 – less than half the national average of $248,857. This can result in lower base prices for home insurance.
Local Crime Rates
If you live in an area with high property crime, you may be considered a “high risk” customer, likely to file an insurance claim for vandalism or theft – both property crimes covered by home insurance. Luckily, West Virginia experiences lower rates of property crime. With the national average for property crime (exempting auto theft) found by the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Report at 1.97%, West Virginia instead experienced a 1.35% rate. That could translate into lower home insurance rates!
Your Income and Education
Home insurance companies look at something called a credit based insurance score as you apply for home insurance – this helps them assess your “risk” or filing a claim and determine your coverage costs. A better credit score could earn you significant savings. Some demographic characteristics that are associated with good credit are higher incomes and a college education. West Virginia household incomes are substantially below the national average – $44,097 compared with the national average of $64,179, according to the Census Bureau. Educational attainment also falls below the national average – while nationwide, 32.06% of people over age 25 have earned a bachelors’ degree or above, in West Virginia 20.3% of people in that age group have done so.
Where to Purchase Home Insurance in West Virginia
Learning what the average home insurance prices, coverages, and risks shouldn’t be the last step in your search for home insurance. To find the best prices for insurance tailored to your needs, it’s important to compare the plans of many different insurance companies. Here AgileRates.com can help, by giving you accurate quotes from a host of insurers in your area. Even if you already have home insurance, this research can help you find competitive prices from other companies – or even find you discounts with your current insurance! According to the Pulse Whitepaper from iii.org, only 44% of homeowners compare prices of different insurers at renewal time, and only 17% do so online. That means more than half of all homeowners are leaving money on the table at renewal time. Use Agilerates.com’s online form to get matched with a local agent, get free quotes, and shop around!