West Virginia Homeowners Insurance Laws – What You Need to Know

Purchasing a home is one of the biggest financial investments most people will make in their lifetime. To protect this investment against unforeseen losses, having adequate homeowners insurance is essential. This article provides an overview of key West Virginia homeowners insurance laws and regulations that homeowners should be aware of.

Does West Virginia Require Homeowners Insurance?

West Virginia does not have a law that mandates homeowners insurance for all property owners. However, if you have a mortgage on your home, your lender will almost always require you to maintain a homeowners insurance policy as a condition of the loan. The insurance protects their financial interest in your home.

Even if you own your home outright, homeowners insurance is still highly recommended to safeguard your property and assets. The right policy provides protection for your home, belongings, liability risks, living expenses, and more.

While optional, the catastrophic costs that can result from events like fires, storms, lawsuits and other covered losses make homeowners insurance an important component of responsible homeownership in West Virginia.

West Virginia Homeowners Insurance Regulations

The West Virginia Offices of the Insurance Commissioner oversees and regulates the homeowners insurance industry in the state. Some key aspects of homeowners insurance that are regulated include:

  • Policy forms and provisions – Insurers must file policy forms and contracts with the Insurance Commissioner for review and approval before use. This helps ensure policies available to WV consumers contain required provisions and protections.

  • Rates – Insurers must file proposed rates and premiums with supporting data and get approval from the Commissioner before using new or updated rates. This regulation aims to protect consumers from excessive premiums.

  • Cancellation/non-renewal – Insurers must abide by rules regarding when and how a homeowners policy can be cancelled or non-renewed. Reasons for cancellation/non-renewal are limited to prevent unfair termination of coverage.

  • Claims settlement – Specific standards exist for timely investigation and fair settlement of homeowners insurance claims filed in West Virginia. This promotes good faith claims handling.

  • Policyholder protections – Various consumer protections related to homeowners insurance help policyholders understand coverage, ensure fair treatment, and mitigate risks like catastrophe events.

Knowing these key areas regulated by the state provides homeowners confidence that the insurance industry is monitored for fair dealing and ethical practices.

Notable West Virginia Homeowners Insurance Laws

Beyond the general regulations, some other notable West Virginia laws related to homeowners insurance include:

  • Mine subsidence coverage – Homeowners policies in WV must include coverage for damage caused by mine subsidence, which is the sinking or collapse of land due to underground mining activity. This addresses a specific risk for the state.

  • Flood damage – Insurers must notify homeowners if their policy does not cover flood losses and refer them to the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood coverage is excluded on most standard homeowners policies.

  • Fire policy provisions – West Virginia requires homeowners policies to follow a version of the standard fire policy form used nationwide for key coverage conditions. This promotes consistency across policies.

  • Policy details – Homeowners policies must clearly specify relevant details like the names of the parties, risks insured, term of coverage, premiums, and applicable conditions. This prevents ambiguity about what is covered.

  • Non-renewal – Insurance companies must follow rules regarding when an existing homeowners policy can be non-renewed at the end of a policy term. Reasons are limited to prevent unfair denial of continuing coverage.

Common Homeowners Policy Exclusions in West Virginia

While homeowners policies cover a wide range of losses, every policy has exclusions where no coverage is provided. Common homeowners insurance exclusions in West Virginia policies include:

  • Flood damage – Damage caused by flooding from natural sources like rains, overflow of rivers or bodies of water is excluded. Separate flood insurance policies are available.

  • Earthquake damage – Earthquake shock damage is excluded but endorsements may be available for an additional premium.

  • Normal wear and tear – Gradual deterioration or maintenance issues are not covered.

  • Intentional losses – Damage or losses intentionally caused by a policyholder or resident of the home.

  • Business activities – Liability or property losses that arise from business activities are typically excluded.

  • Auto accidents – Damage from the use of autos is generally excluded.

  • Watercraft – Losses involving watercraft like boats are excluded under standard policies.

Reviewing details on exclusions is an important part of understanding homeowners insurance coverage in West Virginia.

Key Takeaways

The key takeaways when it comes to West Virginia homeowners insurance laws and regulations include:

  • Homeowners insurance is not required by state law but is typically required by mortgage lenders.

  • The WV Offices of the Insurance Commissioner regulates insurers and policies to protect consumers.

  • Special rules apply to policy cancellations, non-renewals, claims, forms, and rates.

  • Specific WV laws address mine subsidence, fire policy provisions, non-renewals, flood damage notifications, and more.

  • Policies contain exclusions for losses like floods, earthquakes, normal wear and tear, business activities, and auto accidents.

Understanding these basics helps homeowners in West Virginia shop for insurance, evaluate policy options, and protect their property and financial interests appropriately based on state laws and oversight.

Should I Keep Paying My Homeowners Insurance?


What is the average homeowners insurance in West Virginia?

The average cost of homeowners insurance in West Virginia is $1,205 per year according to NerdWallet.

Who qualifies as an insured on a homeowners policy?

Any individuals who live in the home are also covered by personal property and liability insurance if they are related to you (e.g., your children, an aging parent) or if they are under 21 years of age and in the care of any member of your family.

What does a homeowners policy not cover?

Standard homeowners insurance policies typically do not include coverage for valuable jewelry, artwork, other collectibles, identity theft protection, or damage caused by an earthquake or a flood.

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