Homeowners Insurance in Sea Isle City
Coastal Property Homeowners Insurance
As any property owner in Sea Isle knows, homeowners insurance is expensive. This is the result of many factors, including high building costs, coastal storms, and vacation home risk.
Building costs in the northeast are approximately 50% higher than the national average. The costs of building in Sea Isle or any other shore town community are even higher due to building codes established to minimize storm damage. This can include hurricane rated windows/shutters, and steel strapping to tie all framing and the roof securely to the foundation. Another factor to consider is the quality of homes built at the shore in the last 20 years. If you remember the Jersey shore towns of your youth, they bear no resemblance to today's shore towns. The simple bungalows and getaway cottages are long gone. Three story homes with multiple levels of decks, gourmet kitchens and high end finishes are standard. And these high end homes are expensive to replace which means high insurance premiums.
The coastal environment also drives up the cost of homeowners insurance. The most obvious reason is the potential for devastating storms. Everyone remembers the named storms such as Super Storm Sandy which caused widespread devastation and insured losses of over 25 billion. These storms rightfully get a great deal of media attention and become part of the shared memories of every Jersey shore homeowner. After all who can forget the pictures of chest deep water in the streets and dumpsters on almost every block in the weeks following the storm. But while named storms are what we remember, the New Jersey coast is usually hit with one or more nor'easters each year. These winter and spring storms rarely make the news for more than a day. However they often pack winds over 75 miles per hour and frequently result in insurance claims for damaged roofs, siding and windows. The result is expensive homeowners insurance that doesn't cover flood damage and frequently includes higher deductibles for damage due to named storms and hurricanes.
Vacation homes are also riskier because they are not occupied for much of the year. The reason is two-fold. First when someone lives in a property problems are generally noticed quickly and repairs can be made before damage is excessive. For example a broken window will be fixed before it results in significant damage to the home's interior. Second precautions can be taken to avoid losses. For example if high winds are forecast, outdoor furniture can be secured or moved inside to reduce the chance of wind damage. Every vacation owner knows the feeling of unease when they are over an hour away and the weather forecast suddenly calls for nasty weather. Insurance companies also know that feeling and the result is higher premiums for vacation homes.
Non Admitted / Surplus Lines Insurance Companies
Many of the largest admitted property insurance companies will no longer insure coastal homes. These companies have decided that property damage resulting from coastal storms is too risky to insure. Admitted or standard lines insurance companies are regulated by the state. Their policy provisions and rates must be approved by the states in which they are licensed.
Non admitted or surplus lines insurance companies are not licensed by the state and will often insure properties in coastal areas that admitted companies have determined are too risky. Because these companies are not regulated by the states, they do not participate in state guarantee funds. This means that if the non admitted insurer goes bankrupt and cannot pay a claim the homeowner has little to no recourse. Fortunately insurance company failures are rare even for non admitted companies. However when placing a policy with a surplus lines carrier agents will require the insured to sign statement acknowledging that the coverage is underwritten by a surplus lines insurer that is not subject to state requirements imposed on admitted companies.
Finding The Best Homeowners Insurance Rate
Unlike flood insurance where the rates are set by the National Flood Insurance Program (administered by FEMA), each insurance company sets the rates for homeowners insurance. The best way to be sure you are not paying too much for your homeowners insurance is to shop around. Just because you have been with the same insurer for several years, this doesn't mean they are giving you the best rate. Remember surplus line premiums are not regulated by the state. Surplus lines insurance companies know can offer lower premiums to gain a new customer and then raise premiums each year, since most customers simply renew their coverage. Ask your agent to re-quote your coverage each year. Otherwise they will most likely just provide a renewal premium with your current carrier. You can also contact other agents to see if they can provide a better rate. Not every agent works with the same surplus lines carriers so a new agent may be able to get the same or better coverage at a lower rate.
Owning a house in Sea Isle is expensive enough without overpaying for homeowners insurance.