Some insurance shopping may be optional. Shopping around for a coastal home insurance policy is not. If a home is located within a mile or two of a coastline, a homeowner absolutely must pound the pavement—or click through the internet—and actively seek out and compare policies and rates that will protect property against offshore storms.
This is not just a Florida problem, though the Sunshine State is particularly well exposed to winds and torrents from off shore. All of the waters’ edge states along the Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic region are vulnerable to the storms. Homeowners in those states also are vulnerable to the special provisions and restrictions that insurers work up to protect themselves against a wave of claims. Shopping for coastal home insurance must be a priority.
In Texas, for example, a leading national insurer has announced that a year from now it will not renew policies of homeowners in five counties along the coast. This includes some properties that have never suffered flooding after a hurricane and are located 10 miles inland. The insurance company said it “must find the appropriate balance between our exposure, the resources available to maintain a quality level of service and our ability to meet our financial obligations."
So, all coastal property owners must be prepared to shop to protect their properties. If homeowners live in an area that has been designated a flood-prone area and where governing authorities are taking acceptable steps to manage flood potential, the federal subsidized National Flood Insurance Program is one resource open to them.
Independent insurance agents can be a helpful resource for shopping homeowners. Agents who are tied exclusively to one insurer are in no position to offer alternatives to a canceled policy. But independent agents have ready access to more than one company and can pivot one direction or another to meet an insurance customer’s needs. Shopping for coastal home insurance is easiest when it can be done in a one-stop-shopping situation.
by Morgan Moran