Texas Home Insurance - What You Need for Adequate Coverage
The Lone Star State ranks among the top ten fastest growing in the U.S., especially with Houston being the fourth-biggest city in the U.S., so it's hardly surprising that Texas home insurance has a lot of action, not to mention variety.
The vast size of Texas makes it difficult to cite average insurance prices. There's a great deal of variation in geography, economy, and cultural diversity across the state. The environment surrounding your home, along with the ground it's built on, are just as important as the value of your real estate and your credit history in determining premiums. Local weather conditions and topography become considerations for estimating the likelihood that a policyholder might file a claim. Some parts of this state have desert climates, while others get up to 61 inches of precipitation annually. Insurers regard the hottest areas as possibly having fire risks and the dampest as having flood potential. Fortunately, fire is covered under basic policies. Floods are usually not, and often well worth the extra expense to cover.
Lots of Waterfront
Interestingly, home insurers report that Texas ranks as one of the top three states for flood damage claims. That's because the state has a lot more waterfront than newcomers might expect.
- The state's Gulf Coast shoreline is 370 miles, alternating between natural land formations and man-made structures.
- Texas rivers and lakes have at least 80,000 miles of shoreline.
- The acreage of the state susceptible to flash flooding numbers in the millions and may grow due to global warming.
The state's biggest rivers, starting with largest and working toward smallest, are the:
- Rio Grande
- San Jacinto
- San Antonio
Fend Off Floods
If your home is near the Gulf Coast or one of the state's other shorelines, it makes sense to purchase additional insurance for flood damage. The cost to buy this type of additional coverage, known as an endorsement or rider, will depend on the history of flood damage not just in your region but on your block.
Interestingly, the amount of Texan land at risk of flash flooding exceeds that of than any other state. Many people have a wait-and-see attitude about purchasing flood insurance: Waiting until a big storm to buy flood insurance, only to learn that these policies usually take effect about 30 days after purchase and don't apply retroactively.
Here's another thing that people learn after the fact: Federal disaster relief programs do not obviate the need for flood coverage. Most federal emergency aid takes the form of loans that are expected to be repaid. That's not a reimbursement for the cost of damages, which is what insurance settlements are all about.
Looking at flood maps from the U.S. Geological Survey will give you a good idea about the relative amount of flooding risk for your home, but know that the mapping doesn't perfectly predict the future. They reflect the most recent 100 years of flooding trends, and homes located outside of what are called "flood plains" will qualify for the lowest rates on home insurance. However, about 25% of flood damage claims filed with Texas home insurers occur in areas outside of the expected flood zones.
There's certainly less risk of flooding in desert-like parts of the state, but that doesn't mean it never happens. Some areas are still building infrastructure for collecting rainwater, and until that work is completed, small amounts of rain can have a flood effect. However, there is good news for those living in the hottest parts of the state, although it might not sound that way at first: Insurers assessing homes in hot climates think about fire risk more than flood risk, so you might not need to buy rider to expand your coverage to include the water damage. If your sweltering street has rain gutters, that's a sign you might not need flood insurance.
Whether you own, rent or invest in a home, the more you know about the surrounding topography, the better prepared you will be for policy shopping. This state is known for having things in large sizes, but be careful about making that the sole criteria for purchasing Texas home insurance. You want to have the right amount of coverage, without overspending. Calculating the value of your belongings before you start pricing and comparing insurers' offerings will help you zero in on the perfect plan for protecting your dwelling, its occupants and those who visit.