USAA homeowners insurance solar power coverage

Regular Contributor
My wife and I are considering taking advantage of the solar power tax incentives at the state and federal level and adding getting a solar array installed on our roof. In my research I've discovered that some insurance companies offer discounts for solar users to encourage use, many do not increase premiums, and some require additional coverage. USAA appears to require additional coverage, so much so that the advantages in solar are greatly reduced due to the higher premium for homeowners insurance. This was what the representative told me at the 800 number. On one hand I can understand it, but on the other it seems inconsistent with USAA's generally forward thinking attitude. And the representative simply assumed that I'd have to buy extra coverage but there seems to be no clear cut official policy regarding this. Has anybody had experience with USAA after installing solar panels? What was it like?

10 REPLIES

Dont do it!! It adds a ton of weight to your roof that it is not built to handle!! In 5 years tou will see a sag in your roof due to the added weight!! Also maintenance with the shingles when you go to replace them!! If you live in a snow prone area you have to consider that weight as well!! If you a a small fire in your home it could turn into a big problem if firefighters have to access your roof to vent properly because you can never turn the panels off even at nite they are still charged!! Installers only have to do a two day seminar to qualify to install leaving you with shoddy workers that just dont care!! Just some thoughts!!

The weight of a PV system is spread across many square feet of your roof. The effect is negligable. PV installations are not hazards when they are installed by established, reputable companies.

Don't listen to the other person.  We have it on our roof and are so happy.  Almost no energy (electricity) costs and we drive an electric vehicle.  Saving about $300 - 400 a month.  The only way to go.

My brother just retired as a fire captain and there a absolute no problems.  They can still open the roof on the North side or any other roof slope that doesn't have the panels.

Only on very old houses there could be weight problem and should be checked; and if the roof tiles are old then redo the roof before upgrading to solar.  Many roofers can already put in the hardware for solar or even do the whole job.

 

Roof Weight: The added weight of the solar panels to the roof is negligible. Residential roofs are designed to handle dead loads (structure) and live loads (snow, rain, people) a minimum of 40+ lbs per square foot, the weight of the solar panels are about 3 lbs per square foot.

Fire Access: Most all areas have fire codes that may require 2-3 feet around the solar panel area for the firemen to access the roof and cut holes if necessary. Solar panel arrays usually cover about 1/2 to 2/3 of the roof, and the firemen can also cut holes in the north side of the roof if necessary.

Insurance Premiums: The most important item is to check the added premium for the increased value of your home with the addition of solar panels. Some areas, California for example, forbid an increase in premiums for the addition of solar panels. USAA uses a service called ‘Xactware’ to estimate the risk and replacement costs. “Xactimate is the industry's leading claims estimating solution” for insurance companies. www.xactware.com/ This system uses the number of panels to estimate the added value, i.e. risk, of the solar panels.

My system has 22 panels, Xactimate estimated a dwelling increase of $35,000, however this increase automatically ripples through other coverages such as ‘Other Structures’ and 'Personal Properties' for a total increase of $64,750 and a premium increase of $165.74.

I thought this was particularly high as it is about 3.5 times the cost of my solar system of about $18,5000, and solar system costs are predicted to continue to decrease for several years to come. I asked to talk with a USAA representative to discuss this further. This was followed by a phone conservation and an on-line ‘Chat’ with a very helpful and knowledgeable USAA representative. After explaining the entire situation, we negotiated a total increased value of $18,500 and a premium increase of $47.37 per year or $3.95 per month.

The concern is that most people may not ask about the valuation and premium increase, which will show up much later in their annual mortgage escrow adjustment and will be brushed off as normal increases in insurance and/or taxes. Be informed!

I installed a solar system, but mine is ground mount.  I called USAA and they said it could be covered under the "other structures" section, annual premium increase was about $48. 

I need to call USAA back or find another insurer. We're about to install a roof-top solar system. When I called USAA to see how much our home insurance premiums would increase, I nearly died. I'd be paying USAA instead of the power company. The rep said the rebuild cost would increase SUBSTANTIALLY with the addition of 36 solar panels, and the premium would increase an ADDITIONAL $145/MONTH.
How does a $21,000 solar system increase the rebuild cost of our home an extra $161,000? * Especially since solar is decreasing in price?

SunnySideUp, I understand that you have concerns about a proposed increase to your homeowners insurance premiums due to the installation of solar panels. I'll share your post with our insurance team. An insurance expert will conduct a follow-up with you during regular business hours. ~DC 

Thanks for posting in our Member Community SunnySideUp. Solar panels are pretty cool, and something I've been interested in myself. I can certainly go over the quote options with you. It could be that the dwelling amount itself was reevaluated, solar panels or not. Let's have a look, and I appreciate the opportunity.  Please select the drop down arrow next to your handle name at the top right of your screen, and click "My Settings".  From there go to the "Private Messenger" tab to ensure private messages are turned on.  After doing this you can "Send New Message" by clicking on the envelope icon from the drop down menu at the top right of your screen.  I look forward to your message to where we can undergo a secure communication method in regards to your quote.  Thank you for your time today, and for your membership with USAA.  -  Justin 

Curious what the outcome was for those who have installed a solar system with USAA. What was the impact on your homeowners coverage cost?

 

I, too, am considering installing solar. I am wondering if I will need to switch away from USAA to make the savings of installing solar worthwhile...