So you just bought a new home. Congrats! It’s an exciting time of life. Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as exciting to consider the what-if scenarios and the natural disasters that threaten to damage your new abode. And yet protecting your investment is the most important thing you can do as a new homeowner.

That’s why Freshome is committed to helping you choose the right insurance coverage from the insurance company that can best meet your needs. We’ve rounded up a handful of top-notch insurance companies in South Carolina that scored high marks in customer service, transparency, financial standings, and affordability.

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The Best Homeowners Insurance in South Carolina

Freshome’s Recommended Homeowners Insurance Companies in South Carolina: State FarmAmicaLiberty MutualFarmersAllstateSafeco

In order for us to recommend an insurance company, it had to have three or more stars from J.D. Power, a score of B+ or higher from A.M. Best, and strong ratings from both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. With these qualifiers in mind, we chose Amica, State Farm, and Liberty Mutual as our top recommended homeowners insurance companies in South Carolina. The insurance companies of Allstate, Farmers, and Safeco have each received favorable ratings in terms of their financial strength as well.

Before obtaining quotes, we chose a property that is currently for sale and representative of the South Carolina real estate market. Our research indicates that the average cost of a home on the market today is $180,000; however, since it’s common for the selling price to be lower than the listed price, we chose a $220,00 property in Summerville, a suburb of Charleston. Built in 2014, the home is a two-story, 2,042-square-foot Cape Cod with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a detached two-car garage.

As for the insurance coverage, we chose $223,000 in dwelling coverage (we’ll explain how we determine dwelling coverage in the FAQs later). We selected an HO3 policy, the most popular policy type in the US. Under an HO3 policy, your home is covered by an open perils policy —  essentially, you’re covered for any type of damage, with some exclusions. Your belongings are covered by a named perils policy, which covers specific, or “named,” catastrophes.

Be aware that quotes for homeowners insurance can vary greatly depending on the home, its location, and the homeowner. Each company has its own method of calculating policy rates.

Our Quotes
State Farm$1,475 Per Year
Amica$1,776 Per Year
Liberty Mutual$1,844 per year

According to Kim Clark — an experienced real estate agent with Lake Homes Realty in Greenwood, South Carolina, as well as a member of the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce — it’s crucial that you get multiple quotes rather than buying a policy from the first company you contact. And although the larger, nationwide insurance companies tend to offer the most competitive rates, Clark also recommends getting quotes from smaller and more local companies. Local insurance companies are sometimes more in-tune with what South Carolinians really need in their homeowners insurance coverage.

What You Should Know Before Getting a Quote

First, get familiar with the four essential components of a homeowners insurance policy. The average HO3 policy covers your home’s structure, your personal property, temporary living expenses in the event of an emergency, and personal liability. As you collect your policy quotes, pay close attention to the coverage each policy offers in those four areas.

Before you start getting quotes, make sure you have all the information that the insurance companies need to create your quotes. The following list represents just some of the details for which you may be asked during the quote process:

  • The home’s address
  • The home’s architectural style
  • The year that the home was built
  • The age of the roof
  • The type of shingles/material used for the roof
  • The material covering the sides of the home
  • Whether the home has a basement or has a slab foundation
  • Whether the home features a front porch, back porch, or neither/both
  • Whether the property features any detached structures such as a garage or shed
  • Whether the property features a swimming pool
  • Whether there are fire alarms and at least one extinguisher
  • Whether there is an alarm system and whether it notifies emergency services
  • Whether there is a sprinkler system installed in the home
  • The number of occupants who will live in the home six or more months per year
  • Whether any of the occupants will be children
  • Whether there will be any pets, especially cats or dogs
  • Whether you currently have a homeowners insurance policy

Many of these answers will be used as part of the company’s risk assessment. The annual cost of an insurance policy is proportional to the amount of danger and how resilient a home is determined to be; however, it can fluctuate based on the amount of coverage and the deductibles you choose.

Rethink Your Personal Liability Coverage

South Carolina real estate agent Kim Clark recommends that you take a close look at the liability coverage that a potential policy offers and consider increasing it. Personal liability coverage is often overlooked because it does not directly pertain to the value of your home or its occupants; however, liability coverage is important because it protects you from financial loss in the event that you would get sued for injury or property damages that others might sustain while in your home or on your property.

The personal liability coverage of a homeowners insurance policy covers things like the cost of court defense and any amount that might be paid for damages awarded by the court. Therefore, our experts recommend increasing personal liability coverage to $300,000 — which is significantly better coverage than the common default value of $100,000 — as it increases the cost of policy by just $20 per year, or about $2 per month.

The “Perils” of South Carolina

Let’s talk about the perils that we mentioned earlier while discussing HO3 policies. It’s important to be absolutely clear on which perils your home is covered for, so that you know whether or not you need to include any endorsements on your policy.

In short, an endorsement is like an addendum or amendment to your homeowners insurance policy. It changes your policy’s coverage in some way, either by adding or removing perils or by altering the scope of your coverage for a given peril.

The bottom line is this: You want to make sure you have enough coverage in place to cover a partial loss or, preferably, a total loss of your home. Therefore, you should investigate the types of incidents most commonly reported in your home area and then check to make sure that coverage is included.

“Make sure you have the most competitive full coverage you can afford,”  – Kim Clark, Lake Homes Realty

Clark specifically mentions flood coverage as being important in South Carolina, especially due to some recent zoning changes. “Since FEMA has changed flood maps — and has the right to do so again — I would pay close attention to where my home is located relative to water. Flood insurance is not included in a standard HO3 policy, so this is important,” said Clark.

As we explained previously, open perils (sometimes referred to as “Special” Form) refers to a policy that covers all or the majority of threats that could occur to your home. When a policy offers open perils coverage, it will explicitly state that all risks of loss are covered before specifying any perils that are excluded from coverage. In other words, open perils coverage lists the perils that aren’t covered rather than the perils that are.

Some of the most commonly excluded incidents include anything related to home maintenance (i.e., bad roof, old paint, gradual seepage), damage to property that’s covered by a separate policy (i.e., vehicles or floods), or categories deemed “uninsurable” such as any event involving a nuclear hazard.

On the other hand, named perils (also called “Broad” Form) refers to a policy that explicitly lists the incidents that it covers. WIth an HO3 policy, the named perils portion applies to your possessions. Some of the incidents most commonly listed under named perils coverage include fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, explosion, riot or civil commotion, aircraft, vehicles, sudden and accidental smoke damage, vandalism or malicious mischief, and theft.

In South Carolina, the default named and open perils are largely sufficient; however, the closer you live to water the more likely you are to require flood coverage, which must be added to your HO3 policy. Experts also recommend making sure your home has sufficient wind and hail coverage due to South Carolina’s proximity to the ocean and the possibility that there can be severe storms.

Our experts also advised paying close attention to how a company’s representatives treat you during the quote process. If they are rude in any way, it’s not likely that the customer service will get any better in the future. A good agent should answer your questions, make you feel comfortable, and be an authority on the topic of homeowners insurance.

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Why Are South Carolina’s Rates So High?

Looking at our quotes above, you may notice that the annual premium for homeowners insurance in South Carolina is a little high. In a study conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the majority of homeowners in the US will pay about $1,034 per year. By comparison, the average annual premium in South Carolina is estimated at $1,124. South Carolina has the eleventh highest average annual homeowners insurance premium nationwide.

South Carolina has almost 3,000 miles of shoreline. Being so close to the water, perils like flooding and high winds caused by storms are a major concern. The South Carolinian cost is dotted with estuaries, marshes, and ovular bays, which extend the reach of floodwaters a greater distance inland. Moreover, much of South Carolina is flat, offering little defense from rising floodwaters. In upstate South Carolina, the eroded remains of a small offshoot of the Appalachian Mountains direct rainwater back toward the coast.

Crime rates also affect insurance premiums. A recent analysis determined that South Carolina has the highest total crime rate of any state in the US, behind the District of Columbia. Specifically, the crime rate in South Carolina is estimated to be 4,381 per 100,000 state residents, which is significantly higher than the national average of 3,098 per 100,000 U.S. citizens. South Carolina also sees 559 violent crimes per 100,000 residents compared to 368 nationwide. According to experts, the main cause of the elevated crime rates in South Carolina is an overall poor economy.

FAQs

What are some common coverage gaps or loopholes?

A coverage gap refers to an incident that isn’t covered by an insurance policy. These gaps are generally reserved for incidents that are either extremely rare (which would make coverage unnecessary for most people) or exceptionally common or complicated, warranting a separate policy or endorsement. A prime example of a coverage gap would be flood insurance, which is seldom covered by a standard HO3 policy and, therefore, would require you to add a special coverage plan.

Additionally, undervaluation is a common problem. This most often occurs when homeowners do renovations to their homes and increase the value of their homes above the amount for which their homeowners insurance plans are covered.

A loophole, by comparison, typically refers to some type of policy inadequacy that isn’t apparent due to ambiguous or unclear wording. An example of a loophole that’s extremely common in homeowners insurance policies is the residency technicality. According to policy terms, the home in which you claim residency is covered from open perils as long as you live in the dwelling for more than six months per year; however, if you were to move out of the home, some policies won’t cover any damage incurred from incidents that the policies are supposed to cover because you are no longer living in the home. Therefore, it’s important to seek the appropriate endorsement if there’s a possibility that there may come a time when you maintain ownership of the home despite no longer living in it.

How do you determine how much “dwelling coverage” you need?

Determining how much dwelling coverage you’ll need requires a little creative guesstimation. Many insurance companies have software to help them determine the amount of coverage you need, but these programs take many different factors into consideration. Generally, the amount of coverage you need will be close to the purchase price of your home, but you may need slightly more or less depending on the age of your home, its present condition, and the cost of materials in your region. For the home we used to collect our quotes, the average amount of dwelling coverage recommended by Amica, Liberty Mutual, and State Farm was $223,100, which is only marginally greater than the $220,000 cost of the home.

Is there a required minimum of medical coverage?

The average limit for medical coverage in a homeowners insurance plan is $1,000 per person, which means that anyone who sustains an accidental injury at your home, whether a resident or visitor, is eligible for up to $1,000 in coverage of his or her medical expenses that result from the injury. While use of this coverage is infrequent for most, a growing number of companies are strongly recommending $5,000 of medical coverage per person.

Will my homeowners insurance policy include flood coverage?

Virtually all homeowners insurance policies exclude flood coverage. The main reason is because the majority of people will never need it while others — particularly those who live on the coast or near bodies of water — will likely want significant flood coverage, warranting a separate policy.

How can I reduce the cost of my annual premium?

You always have the option to increase your deductible to lower the premium of your homeowners insurance policy. However, there are other, more productive ways of decreasing your premium without increasing the deductible, which includes installing deadbolts, making sure there are smoke detectors in all rooms, and having at least one fire extinguisher in your home. Since these may vary from one company to the next, refer to your insurance provider for other suggestions on reducing your annual premium.

What sorts of things affect the cost of my annual premium?

The cost of your homeowners insurance premium is determined by a wide variety of factors. Your home’s proximity to local emergency services — the fire and police departments — is one determinant. Additionally, the age of your home and the materials used in its construction can play a significant factor.

How often should I review my home’s insurance coverage?

You should closely review your homeowners insurance policy on annual basis. Pay particular attention to the perils for which you’re covered and the amount of dwelling coverage you have.

Take Action

South Carolina offers a gorgeous mix of coastal forests, historic towns, abundant beaches, and friendly cities. With a tax climate that favors homeownership, South Carolina has a growing population, making the topic of insurance more important than ever. Finding the best homeowners insurance in South Carolina starts with a Freshome education. Now we pass the torch to you — go forth and get quotes. Ask questions. Ask more questions. And choose only the homeowners insurance policy that’s right for you, your family, and your South Carolina home.

Freshome’s Recommended Homeowners Insurance Companies in South Carolina: State FarmAmicaLiberty MutualFarmersAllstateSafeco

Compare Homeowners Insurance Rates

To quickly find and compare rates in your area, enter your ZIP code below.

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