Q. Why Is Insurance So Expensive?
A. Property Insurance: Most property insurance is naturally more expensive at the coast due to the catastrophic effects of hurricanes, floods, and other storms. These disastrous storms are much more difficult to predict than are normal weather conditions. It’s not uncommon for these storms to cause billions of dollars of damage. Insurance companies must plan for their ability to pay these large, unpredictable losses.
Automobile Insurance: Coastal South Carolina lies along a beautiful stretch of beach. This, along with our expanding venues of entertainment, shopping, and golf, attracts millions of visitors each year. The large number of vehicles in one area leads to a higher rate of automobile accidents than in more rural areas. Road conditions also play a large role in the claims experience of a particular area. In order to establish your automobile insurance rates, we take into account age, driving record, type of vehicle, how the vehicle is used, along with other factors.
Q. Why Can't I Get Insurance When a Hurricane Is Approaching?
A. With the exception of the Federal Flood Program (NFIP) and the South Carolina Wind & Hail Underwriting Association (SCWHUA), most insurance is provided by private enterprise. These suppliers are usually stock or mutual companies that are in business to provide a return on the investments of their stockholders. Companies will not normally bind or increase their exposure in an area where a hurricane is imminent. This includes NFIP and SCWHUA that both have waiting periods before coverage becomes effective. If this were not the case, then many people would wait until a storm was about to strike before insuring their property for wind. This would cause adverse selection (insuring only risks which will most likely have a loss), and the insurance system would become bankrupt. The principle of insurance is for the many (those without claims) to pay for the losses of the few (those with claims).
Q. How Should I Prepare for an Approaching Hurricane?
A. Know about your insurance coverage before there is an approaching storm. It is often too late for your agent to change your coverage when there is an approaching hurricane. Prepare for the worst. Bring any items indoors that can blow around and cause damage. Consider boarding up vulnerable windows and doors. Listen to radio and TV reports. Make certain you have an adequate supply of water and food. Consider leaving town if the severity of the storm warrants it. If you suffer damage from a storm, immediately perform temporary repairs in order to prevent further damage from occurring. This is a requirement in property policies. Do not risk your own safety!
Q. Do I Need Flood or Earthquake Coverage?
A. Yes. Any property can suffer a flood loss. Annually, approximately 1/3 of all flood losses occur in those flood zones considered to be “low risk.” Floods are the most common-occurring natural disaster. Federal disaster assistance is not always available and must be repaid when it is available. Often, the premium for flood coverage is very reasonable.
The East Coast is not normally thought of as a major earthquake threat. However, parts of the South Carolina coast are situated near a fault line. Charleston, South Carolina, experienced a major earthquake in the late 1800s. The peril of an earthquake can cause catastrophic and total damage to your property. If you do not have earthquake coverage, then you are "self-insuring" for this potential damage. It is normally considered more practical to self-insure for smaller potential losses, not those which could cause a total loss to your property. Often, the premium for earthquake coverage is very reasonable.