Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Laws Reduce SC Homeowners Insurance Costs and Risk

According to the South Carolina Insurance News Service, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was one of the most costly hurricanes that ever hit in the United States. It made landfall near Charleston, SC and nearly leveled the oceanfront homes from that point to the south end of Myrtle Beach.

Damages were reported to be $4.2 billion at that time. It became less devastating north of Myrtle Beach, but still did millions of dollars of damage before leaving the area to move northwest and into other states.
Fast forward to the years of 2004-2006, and all the hotel-condo conversions and luxury Myrtle Beach condo resorts that were built along the Grand Strand. The total insured property along our coast is now more than $200 billion.

Allison Dean Love, executive director of SCINS NEWS estimates that another hurricane of that strength could cause as much as $15 to $20 billion in damages. She does say that property insurance has improved and victims may have less overall loss from another storm.

Building codes have been strenthened to include extra protection for windows and doors...and impact resistant glass or storm shutters are required. Inspectors must now be certified and registered with the state to provide a better authority for code enforcement.

A new upgraded project designation is called the"Fortified for Safer Living®" program. Only one builder in South Carolina has earned the designation, but it's hoped more will follow. The houses are strengthened at roof and walls, doors, glazed openings, and even the foundation.

A new law was passed in 2007 that increased the availability of private insurance and has brought many new insurance companies to South Carolina. However, it requires insurers to give discounts to owners that have made their homes more storm resistant - with upgrades such as storm shutters, roof tie-downs and other safety procedures.

It also provides tax credits for property owners that purchase materials to make these improvements, as well as flood protection materials. Low income owners get a tax credit if their SC homeowners insurance is more than 5 percent of their income.

Homeowners can also set up savings accounts labeled as "catastrophe savings" that will pay insurance deductibles or or other costs that come with a hurricane, windstorm, or flooding. Depending on the deductible, a homeowner can contribute up to $15,000 that will be free from state taxes. Be as conscientious about insuring your home as you are about your own health when buying a health insurance policy.

There is also a new "SC Safe Home" grant program set up to offer help for homeowners to beef up their property in preparation for natural disasters. For information about these grants, visit

Our friends at Todd Insurance Agency strive to do all they can to help their policy holders with both North Carolina homeowners insurance and property protection in South Carolina.

Giving you timely information about available coverage and helpful tips is one way they try to get you the best rates - from ways to discount car insurance premiums to reducing the cost of national flood insurance or rental insurance in SC.

Scott Todd kindly contributed this article to our blog.