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  • State Farm won't insure my solar panels

    I built a new home last year that includes rooftop solar power, which I intentionally oversized to accommodate recharging a possible electric vehicle in the future. According to my electric bills, during the last year I've generated about 180% of my actual electric usage, with the excess bought back by my commercial power provider via net-metering. Great! (Or so I thought.)

    My homeowners insurance is coming up for renewal soon. Unfortunately, my carrier State Farm notified me last month that, as of October 1 for all new policies written in the US, they will no longer cover the loss of, or liability from, "systems and equipment used to generate electrical power exceeding 125% of the actual power usage by the residential premises in the 12-month period prior to the date of the loss...", leaving my 180% system totally unprotected. Note that there won't even be pro-rated coverage for that portion of the system under 125%: according to my agent, if my house burns down and destroys my panels and inverter, State Farm will not pay to replace any portion of that equipment. More troubling, I will also have no liability coverage if my solar somehow damages the commercial grid or injures someone. And per my agent, State Farm offers no riders or add-on policies that would cover my situation. While I might consider self-insuring against loss of the solar hardware, I certainly don't want to be exposed to potential liability claims

    So I'm resigned to searching for new homeowners insurance. My worry is that since State Farm is a major national carrier, they may just be the first in a wave of insurers that intend to restrict or eliminate solar coverage. I (almost) wonder if there isn't a conspiracy between Big Insurance and Big Utilities to stifle the spread of robust home power generation!
    Last edited by renormalize; 09-11-2017, 08:01 PM.

  • #2
    Oversizing a system could be a very smart move.

    Our system is a bit under-sized, and now we have a plug-in hybrid to recharge.



    4400w, Midnite Classic 150 charge-controller.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by organic farmer View Post
      Oversizing a system could be a very smart move.

      Our system is a bit under-sized, and now we have a plug-in hybrid to recharge.


      Oversizing a system seems to me no better than overdesigning mechanical equipment: A poor excuse for bad or at least inadequate engineering or technical knowledge.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by organic farmer View Post
        Oversizing a system could be a very smart move.

        ...
        rarely- due to low rate utilities compensate for overproduction and solar electricity cost higher than lowest rate utilities are selling it for. I wouldn't replace my gasoline running cars just to compensate for solar over- production, that would be like throwing good money after the bad or something like that.

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        • #5
          The problem with pasting in your text is not the number of characters, but the type of characters. The forum software is sensitive to apostrophes, dashes, quotation marks, and a few other characters. Feel free to paste as much in as you'd like, but once pasted, delete/replace those characters that are causing truncation.
          CS6P-260P/SE3000 - http://tiny.cc/ed5ozx

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          • #6
            Annoying, isn't it?

            In particular, it's sensitive to any "smart quotes". (Technically speaking, it dislikes non-ascii characters, it prefers characters whose numerical value is below 128.)

            There are lots of tools out there which can zap these characters for you (e.g. here's an online one: utils.paranoiaworks.org/diacriticsremover/ )

            To the admins: see google.com/search?safe=off&q=HTML+Character+Set+utf-8+vbulletin for lots of posts about how to configure vbulletin to avoid this problem. There's even a guy who specializes in fixing it
            17kw. I like science, but I'm no expert.

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            • #7
              Original poster here. Thanks for the advice regarding pasting-in text. What's frustrating is that the Preview window in the forum editor displays the full text perfectly so all looks OK, but then the actual post is only partial. Oh well, I'll try filtering out hidden characters and then repost.

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              • #8
                Fixing it (post #6) is the ticket. Hard to talk solar without a degrees symbol. Micro, ohms, and delta would be good too.

                "apostrophes, dashes, quotation marks, and a few other characters" goes without saying.
                Last edited by AzRoute66; 09-11-2017, 12:59 PM.

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                • #9
                  Updated my original partial-post to include full text; please re-read and comment. Thanks.

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                  • #10
                    OK, this might be dumb, but that is right in my ballpark. Of course it probably won't help for one year, and won't be near as good as finding a replacement policy, but is unplugging a group of panels to get down to 110% ridiculous? At least until your EV shows up.

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                    • #11
                      What are you depending on home owners insurance for with the system? Total loss / rebuild value, guaranteeing 2/3rds of the system value will surely replace 3/3rds of it in a couple years as prices constantly drop. May not be that much of an issue in the grand scheme, risk of a couple thousand dollars should the structure burn down in the next three years?

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                      • #12
                        It is a shame they did that though. What about people who have a large system for a split floorplan house with two ac units.. then the kids move out and you only run one ac the next year. Seems like their rule isn't designed to accommodate changing family situations. I'd argue that point if it we're me, just for the fun of it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ImInPhxAZ View Post
                          What are you depending on home owners insurance for with the system? Total loss / rebuild value, guaranteeing 2/3rds of the system value will surely replace 3/3rds of it in a couple years as prices constantly drop. May not be that much of an issue in the grand scheme, risk of a couple thousand dollars should the structure burn down in the next three years?
                          As I said, I'd consider self-insuring against loss of the hardware, especially since, as you say, it'll likely get cheaper with time. My real concern is liability coverage. As I understand it, if (for example) a worker on my roof were injured or electrocuted by coming into contact with the usual supply feed from my power company, my insurance would kick in. But if he's injured by accidentally contacting my solar equipment, my insurance would pay nothing. That's the scenario I worry about.

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                          • #14
                            Sounds like you simply need to start using a lot more power all year so your use nearly matches your output. Sorry to say the solution seems like wasting the energy to stay below 125% until you get an EV to suck it up.

                            I'm with SF and they didn't even seem to care when I told them I added solar panels. This was three years ago so maybe now they are looking at it differently for new policies.
                            Dave W. Gilbert AZ
                            6.63kW grid-tie owner

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                            • #15
                              I'm really surprised your PoCo allowed a residential net metering connection which was expected to generate more than 100-120% of historical usage. When I was sizing my system none of the installers in NJ would go above ~120%. Are you getting better than the wholesale generation rate (aka ~$0.04/kWh) on your true-up anniversary date?

                              Honestly I'm not entirely surprised that State Farm (and likely other) insurers would deny coverage of such a PV system under their residential homeowners policy -- since such a system borders on commercial generation. How many total DC kW are we talking about?

                              Increasing consumption would be the simplest approach, but you'd need to have multiple years of documentation to show you're <125% if you ever needed to make a claim. Lease an electric car (Bolt/Tesla), or switch any remaining nat gas/oil appliances to electric. You could disconnect panels, but from a documentation perspective (to prove to State Farm) you'd probably need to amend your PoCo interconnect agreement as well to reflect the lower generation limit.

                              I recently switched homeowners companies to Progressive (underwritten by ASI -- Progressive uses multiple partners). I told them about my solar system, and they claim it is covered, but they didn't ask me any specific questions (other than total cost of install). Nor is there any specific rider or call out for it on my policy. I tried to ask them as many questions as possible, and the agent I had on the phone seemed to be trying hard to answer (and checked with underwriting several times) but I never really got specific answers to questions like (those below) let alone answers or details in writing.

                              1) What happens if my PV system is damages by lightening, tree branches, animals, wind, hail?
                              2) What happens if my PV system is damaged as a result of other damage (fire, collapse, tree, etc.) to my home?
                              3) What happens if my PV system causes a fire that damages it and/or my home?
                              4) What happens if my PV system shocks/collapses/falls off and injures/kills someone (visitor, lineman, firefighter)?

                              It's crazy to me that I can get a very detailed rider for a ring, piece of art, musical instrument, or computer. But I cannot get a specific rider for a $40K PV system?!?!?

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