State unveils 'green' home insurance policy

ATLANTA --- A fire-blackened home can turn shades of green under an environmentally friendly insurance policy announced Tuesday.


The first of its kind in the state, the policy allows homeowners to pay as little as $25 more a year for coverage that will upgrade traditional home-building materials to environmentally friendly designs and products when a home is damaged.

Under the coverage offered by Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., charred walls can be redone with paint that emits fewer chemicals and tornado-twisted beams can be replaced with wood from certified sustainable forests. Debris from the damage will be recycled after it is removed.

Owners of homes that are already environmentally friendly receive a 5 percent credit toward their policy.

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine said the new coverage would serve the growing number of homes in Georgia that are employing environmentally friendly features.

"It really is doing what we need to do ... to really be good stewards of the earth," he said.

If a home is a complete loss, the coverage pays for the home to be rebuilt according to the latest environmentally friendly building standards from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Mr. Oxendine announced the new coverage in a news conference at EcoManor, the Atlanta home of Laura Turner Seydel, a daughter of media magnate Ted Turner. EcoManor employs geothermal heating and 26 roof-mounted solar panels that slash energy use throughout their lifetime.

Ms. Seydel said the coverage lets owners of damaged homes rebuild with "the gift that keeps on giving."

Fireman's Fund began offering the "green" coverage to commercial policyholders about two years ago. Now, residential coverage is offered in about half the states, and roughly 50 such policies have been sold in Georgia, according to Chris Molinari, the regional vice president for the California-based insurer.

Reach Jake Armstrong at (404) 589-8424 or