Earthquakes, floods, storms and even volcanic activity are some of the local disaster risks in the state of Washington. Unfortunately, a standard home insurance policy doesn’t cover you for some of Washington's biggest risks. The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner provides a list of insurers that cover individual plans for flood, volcano and earthquakes.
If you have a mortgage, you also are required to get home insurance coverage worth the full value of the mortgage when you purchase homeowner’s insurance.
Comparing Washington Home Insurance Rates
Choosing a home insurance policy isn’t always easy, as some companies charge more for specific features. It is a good idea to compare policies from different carriers and to take a careful look at the coverage options and prices offered before making a final decision. Factors that affect basic home insurance include:
- Location of the home.
- Building size and age.
- Property value.
- Building materials, such as wood, stone, or brick.
- Pets in the home (dogs in a dangerous breed category often result in higher premiums due to increased liability risk).
- If you have roofing that can resist hail and wind (such as steel roof tiles).
Remember to compare specific items on each policy that may increase your premium as each company rates each risk differently.
If you live in a rural area, wildfire also is a risk. Check to make sure that the insurance company you choose covers any fire damage to your home.
Earthquake, Flood and Volcano Insurance
While you are not required to have earthquake, flood or volcano insurance, your mortgage company might ask you to obtain it, depending on where you live. You also may choose to buy any of these types of insurance based on your home risk. For example, if your home is right over an earthquake fault line or near any of Washington's 10 volcanoes, then it’s a good idea to purchase additional insurance. Flood insurance usually is only available through the government, so check FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program maps to assess your risk and get flood coverage.
Most insurance companies will want to inspect your home for faults before selling you earthquake insurance. Some insurance companies can deny you insurance if you are located in a particularly dangerous area, or if you are right over a fault line. Many companies offer insurance to all homeowners, but you can expect to pay higher premiums if you live in a high risk area.
It also is important to keep in mind that earth movement coverage is not included in earthquake coverage. You can purchase earth movement or landslide insurance as a separate policy for your home. Earth movement claims typically include damage caused by a mudslide, landslide or other earth movements, generally caused by weather. However, nearby blasting or construction often results in earth movement that can damage a home. It's important to check if any of this is covered under your home insurance policy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Washington Home Insurance
If you’re buying home insurance, you probably have many questions. Here are answers to some of the most common Washington home insurance questions.
1. Is winter damage covered?
Most home insurance policies cover winter damage, including consequences from rain, wind or snow. Policies may or may not cover damage caused by factors outside of weather, so it’s best to ask your agent if you would be covered for winter damage related to power surges, for example.
2. What is mold insurance?
Mold insurance in Washington is a separate policy that you can purchase to cover mold damage. Some policies also cover mold removal or prevention.
3. Which coverage is most important?
Choosing insurance coverage should depend on where you live. If you live in Seattle, your highest priorities are probably basic home insurance and coverage for earthquakes. If you live in a rural area, you might want to consider wildfires and landslides, as well. Usually, the best way to choose insurance is to check the highest risks for your area first. What is important in one area of the state may not matter in another.
How to Get Great Rates on Washington Home Insurance
Has it been a while since you shopped for homeowner’s insurance? Is so, loyalty doesn’t always pay because prices vary from insurer to insurer. Another company may offer you a much better deal. Looking for home or renter’s insurance quotes? insuranceQuotes.com can help you find the best homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy at the best price. Every year, we match 15 million consumers to the nation’s biggest home insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm and Farmers.
Washington Home Insurance Resources
WA State Insurance Commissioner
Information on insurance-related laws and regulations that protect Washington consumers