Many homeowners in Virginia have already faced water problems or foundation issues. These issues likely won’t disqualify you from insuring your home against future damage. However, in some cases, you will need to make repairs to lower your risk before you’re eligible for insurance coverage.
In this insurance guide, we’ll explain how insurers analyze your home’s risks and what you can do to protect yourself against the high cost of water damage.
Risk Determines Insurance Policies and Premiums
For insurers, the underwriting process is about risk management. This is the framework that determines whether you’re eligible for insurance and how much you’ll pay.
During your insurance application, many aspects of your home will be considered, including its location and construction. Most new policies begin with a company representative inspecting the structure. This includes assessing the level of maintenance, its adherence to building codes, and any potential home issues that could lead to a large claim.
If your home is perceived as being lower risk and is in good condition, you’ll typically pay lower rates to insure your home.
The location of your home can determine some aspects of your insurance policies. For example, inland homes in the Shenandoah Valley or Appomattox areas could have a higher risk of dampness, humidity, and mold. Conversely, homes along the Virginia coastline from the Chesapeake Bay to the Outer Banks of North Carolina could be at risk of hurricane damage or storm surge.
How Do Insurers Assess Foundation Problems and Water Issues?
If the insurer discovers foundation problems or existing water issues at your house, it could be classified as high risk. These two issues may have already caused damage to your structure, and if they’re unresolved, they could lead to costly claims. The insurer needs to set your rates accordingly.
Foundation problems are one of the highest risks to a structure. A home’s foundation is integral to the stability of the home and its value. From the insurer’s perspective, a house with foundation damage could have a wide range of future issues including broken pipes, electrical problems, chimneys that are separating from the house, tripping hazards from cracked concrete, and more.
In some cases of severe foundation damage, a home could be uninsurable until foundation repairs are complete. The inspector will be looking for signs of major foundation problems such as uneven footings, wall cracks, or bowing.
The second biggest risk for insurance companies is water problems. In Flood Insurance 101, we learn just how expensive water damage can be. If the insurer thinks your property has a high risk for filing a claim for flood damage or water issues, your premiums will be higher.
Insurance inspectors will look for previous water problems as a way to predict future issues. They’ll look at the exterior of your home for functioning gutters, downspouts, drainage systems, and yard maintenance. Inside, they’ll check plumbing and HVAC and will look for leaks, water damage, mold, or mildew.
How Can You Prepare for an Insurance Inspection?
To qualify for flood insurance, some homes may be required to meet the current building codes and flood management regulations. In particular, this includes water management systems that protect the stability of your foundation, such as installing flood vents. Even when they’re not required, installing flood vents can help you significantly reduce flood insurance premiums.
If you’ve already taken steps to mitigate water problems, have those repair documents on hand to show the inspector. Spring cleaning before your inspection can also help your home seem well maintained and low risk.
The foundation experts at JES can help you get ahead of any potential foundation issues before your insurer discovers them. Our free basement and foundation inspection helps you learn about any issues and how you can protect your home from water damage.
Not only can foundation repair help you mitigate damages in your home, but it can also improve your insurability.
Can Waterproofing and Repairs Help You Lower Insurance Premiums?
Yes! Being proactive about home repairs and maintenance can help your insurance rates.
There are clear financial incentives for making repairs that prevent flood damage. You could pay once for a home repair that would protect your property and personal belongings. Alternatively, you could pay higher insurance premiums every month for as long as you live there.
Plus, your up-front costs could be lower than you expect. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), many flood insurance policies will reimburse homeowners up to $1,000 for flood mitigation efforts. Using this free money could result in some homeowners seeing a 15 percent reduction in premiums for the same level of protection.
Consult your agent for specific repairs that affect your insurance policy.
You may see the biggest benefit from a comprehensive basement waterproofing that secures your home against water threats. A sump pump with a battery backup can help you minimize damage if there is a flood. A ground-level drainage system may also help you lower your insurance payments by diverting heavy rain away from your foundation.
If your home has had flood damage, your insurance policies can be a helpful safety net. However, you could come out ahead if you’re able to avoid water problems altogether.
Learn what steps you can take to secure your foundation and protect your home with a free inspection and repair estimate from the region’s foundation repair experts at JES.