With Houston’s low cost of living, thriving job market, the incredible art of the Museum District and Theater District, and the honor of being the Beyoncé’s birthplace, it’s little wonder so many folks decide to make the city their home (6,892,427 in the metropolitan area, according to 2017 Census data).
And if record-setting homeownership rates are any indication, Houstonians plan to stick around for a while. According to the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), by the end of 2017, 79,117 single-family homes had sold in Houston, Texas, a 3.5% increase from the previous record. Though many expected home sales to slump in a post-Hurricane Harvey environment, these numbers reflect the city’s resilience.
For most Houston homeowners, home insurance is either a mortgage requirement or a necessary safeguard against unpredictable weather. Either way, it’s rarely something you opt out of. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have choices when selecting your homeowners insurance policy. This guide will help you navigate some considerations when shopping for your coverage, including:
- Coverage that makes sense for the risks Houston homes may face
- Wind and flood insurance requirements in Houston
- The cost of homeowners insurance in Houston
- How to save money on home insurance
- How to pick a trustworthy home insurance company
How to Choose the Best Homeowners Insurance for a House in Houston, TX
While there’s no one-size-fits-all homeowners insurance policy, there are some key signs that the policy you’re considering accounts for the risks a Houston home may encounter. Often, you’ll want to look for a home insurance policy that offers the following:
- Replacement cost coverage for both the dwelling and your belongings
- Other structures coverage
- Loss of use coverage
- Liability coverage & medical payments coverage
- Optional coverages
Let’s look at these coverages in more detail and explore some policy options that may apply to your unique needs.
Replacement Cost Coverage for Houston Dwellings & Personal Property
The replacement cost of your home is not what it costs to buy your home. We know –counterintuitive, right? But hear us out: what it costs to buy your home is the house’s market value. This figure takes into account all the intangibles that make your home appealing to others: the neighborhood, its proximity to the METRO light rail or cafés, the school district, the land it sits on, etc. This is a very different figure from what it would cost to rebuild your home brick by brick if disaster struck, which may be more than what you paid for the home.
When we talk about a dwelling’s replacement cost, that’s what we’re referring to: the amount it takes to rebuild your home should you need to. All these factors can impact the cost of rebuilding your home:
- The area’s construction costs
- The square feet of construction
- The construction of the house’s exterior walls (wooden or concrete frames, etc.)
- The style of the house (e.g., a bungalow in the Heights, a townhouse in Rice Military, a craftsman in Montrose, or a ranch-style home in Spring Branch)
- The number of rooms and bathrooms
- The type of roof and its construction
- Fireplaces, basements, and decorative features
- The home’s additions or improvements
Replacement cost dwelling insurance can pay for these construction costs so you are able to properly rebuild your home if it’s damaged by:
- Fire and smoke
- Water damage caused by burst pipes or overflowing household appliances
- Theft or vandalism
- And more
Some insurance providers sell actual cash value coverage for homes. This takes the payout you’re owed and subtracts the home’s depreciation. Kin recommends replacement cost insurance for homes and personal property (i.e., the stuff inside your house). That way, you have the funds to actually repair your home and replace your belongings with new items of a similar quality.
Given that Houston has seen 1,579 residential thefts in the six months between November 3, 2017 and May 2, 2018, it makes sense to extend the same quality of coverage to your belongings. If they are lost or stolen and you have replacement cost personal property insurance, you can purchase new items. You won’t have to hunt around for secondhand deals because of an insufficient payout.
Other Structures Coverage
Other structures insurance can insure your:
- Detached garages
- Swimming pools
- Guest cottages
This coverage offers the same protections as your dwelling insurance – that is, damage from fire, hail, theft and more. If you have a detached home office, though, be aware that other structures coverage often excludes detached structures used for business purposes. But you’re not out of luck, Houston entrepreneurs. Learn about business property coverage in the Optional Coverages section of this guide.
Loss of Use Coverage
When your home must undergo serious repairs following a covered disaster, you usually have to stay somewhere else. When that happens, loss of use insurance (also called additional living expense coverage) can cover your living expenses, such as:
- Temporary accommodations
- Transportation costs
- Pet boarding
- Grocery or restaurant bills
- And more
A quality homeowners insurance policy usually provides this sort of coverage.
Personal Liability Coverage & Medical Payments Coverage
When guests experience an injury in your home or on your property, you may be legally responsible for their medical expenses. When you damage someone’s property, you could be on the hook for replacements or repairs, too. That’s why homeowners insurance often includes personal liability coverage. It can help pay for:
- Repairs when you accidentally damage someone’s property
- Medical bills and legal expenses if someone is hurt on your property
- Medical bills and legal expenses if you are liable for someone’s injury at another location (this excludes auto accidents)
- An injured party’s lost wages
You may need a little extra liability coverage if:
- You’re like many Houstonians and have a dog. You could be held responsible for the damage they cause (sorry, Fido).
- You have children whose friends come over to play.
- You have a swimming pool.
For smaller claims not covered by your personal liability coverage, you can often rely on medical payments coverage. When your guests are accidentally injured on your property, regardless of who is at fault, this part of your homeowners insurance policy may pay for reasonable and necessary medical expenses, up to policy limits. These limits usually cap between $1,000 and $5,000.
These additional coverages may be necessary depending on your needs:
- Business property coverage. A standard homeowners policy includes $5,000 in business property protection, but you can increase this to $10,000.
- Water backup coverage in limits of $5,000, $10,000, $15,000.
- Water damage coverage (for constant or repeated leaks) up to your dwelling insurance limits.
- Animal liability coverage in limits of $25,000 and $50,000.
- Golf cart coverage with a $5,000 limit.
Is Wind Insurance Required in Houston?
Texas doesn’t have statewide wind insurance regulations in place like many other coastal states. Instead, Texas counties are free to make their own requirements.
In Houston, windstorm insurance isn’t mandatory, but many mortgage lenders do require this protection. However, most homeowners policies don't cover windstorm and hail damage if you live in coastal parts of Harris County on Galveston Bay.
While you can purchase windstorm and hail insurance through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), it’s often an insurer of last resort because it only covers homes in designated Catastrophe Areas. This includes the parts of Harris Country east of Highway 146.
If you have wind insurance through TWIA, be aware that you will need a wind inspection to retain coverage if you add the following to your home:
- New Structures
However, your Houston home may be eligible for coverage from private insurers that can offer a better price. For example, Kin Insurance offers homeowners insurance with wind / hail deductibles of 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%.
Is Flood Insurance Required for Houston Homes?
As Harvey’s disastrous path illustrated, flood damage can be catastrophic for a Houston homeowner. The hurricane damaged more than 204,000 homes and apartment buildings in Harris County. What’s more surprising? Most of the houses were outside the federally regulated 100-year floodplain.
The lesson here is that a home’s location in the floodplains should not be the deciding factor in whether or not you purchase flood insurance. However, this misconception may explain why only 17 percent of homeowners in areas hit hardest by Harvey had flood insurance.
While flood insurance isn’t required by Texas law, many mortgage lenders may require you to have this protection if your home is in a floodplain. Again, it may also make sense to invest in this protection even if your home is outside a flood zone.
Flood insurance isn’t included in standard homeowners insurance policies and must be purchased separately. Kin is able to help you secure this coverage as well.
How Much Is Homeowners Insurance in Houston?
The cost of Houston homeowners insurance varies depending on:
- The exact location of your home
- The type of home you have
- The amount of dwelling and property coverage you choose
- The amount of liability coverage you choose
- Additional coverages you select
- Your background (e.g., your credit-based insurance score and claims history)
That said, the median cost of homeowners insurance in Houston, Texas is $1,417, according to our data.
To get an idea of what your coverage may cost, take a look at our median quoted premiums for the following Houston ZIP codes:
Houston ZIP Code
Median Quoted Home InsurancePremium
How to Save Money on Houston Homeowners Insurance
A little risk management can help you protect your home and save money on your home insurance. Here are a few services that can cut down your insurance bill:
- Water consumption monitoring. A monitor that detects abnormalities in water usage and then shuts off can spare you significant water damage from leaks and burst pipes. It can also reduce your home insurance premiums.
- Home security system. A home security system deters theft and limits losses by alerting authorities when break-ins do occur. Kin customers are eligible for a discounted Brinks Home Security system, which saves customers money on their yearly premium.
Comparing Home Insurance Companies in Houston
While it’s tempting to look for a home insurance provider that offers the lowest rates, consider the quality of the coverage it offers, too.
A good home insurance provider will usually:
- Be transparent in its pricing.
- Respond to customers quickly.
- Have favorable reviews from existing customers.
Make sure your Houston homeowners insurance policy can offer the coverages outlined above and that the company you choose makes it easy to customize your policy, get your questions answered, and save money while protecting your home.