Can't Get Homeowners Insurance

I Can’t Get Homeowners Insurance. What Now?

can't get homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance can be tricky. While not required by law, many, if not all, mortgage lenders require you to have a policy as a condition of the loan. But what if you’re denied coverage? There are many factors that go into whether an insurer decides to issue a policy on a home, and not all of them have to do with you the homeowner. From the age of the home to the neighborhood it’s located in, many factors go into how an insurance company determines what policies to issue.

Why Can't I Get Homeowners Insurance Coverage?

The most common reason you’ve been denied coverage is because they have determined that there is a high-risk element to your application. Insurers try to avoid issuing high-risk policies because those are the policies that will cost them more money in the long run. High-risk policies mean a higher likelihood of an expensive claim. More expensive claims mean there is a chance the insurer will lose money on the policy. Let’s take a look at the factors that can make a high-risk application.

Claims

When was the last time you filed a homeowners insurance claim? If it was within the past year, you may be considered high risk. Insurance companies report every claim filed to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE. When you apply for a new policy, insurers will reference your CLUE record when determining your risk level. The more claims you’ve filed, the higher risk you will be considered.

If you do have claims on your record, it’s important to know that some claims are viewed less favorably than others. So what claims hurt your chances more than others?

  • Recent claims (in the last three years)
  • Multiple claims
  • Dog bites
  • Lawsuits
  • Water damage
  • Mold Falls

Location

Where is your home located? Is it a high-crime area? An area prone to natural disasters? Is there a fire station or hospital nearby? How many other insurance claims have been filed in your neighborhood? These factors can all impact whether insurers see your application as high-risk. At best, homeowners in these areas will pay high premiums; at worst, homeowners will be denied coverage.

Your Home

Your home also plays an important part in how an insurance company assesses your risk level. Older homes are considered higher risk than newer homes; homes with roof materials that are more flammable are higher risk than those with less flammable roofs; homes with poor, old, or hazardous materials are considered higher risk than those without.

Insurance Score

Related to your credit score, insurance companies assign each applicant an insurance score based on, you guessed it, your credit score. The better your credit, the lower your perceived risk.

Lapsed Coverage

Do you have a gap in home insurance coverage? If you do, that could impact how risky insurance companies view your application. The longer the coverage lapse, the higher the perceived risk as well. Not only will a lapse in coverage impact your ability to obtain new coverage, it may also force an insurer to drop you from the coverage you currently have.

Animals

When your pet bites or causes harm to someone, your home insurance policy covers all resulting lawsuits and medical bills. Pets that are statistically more likely to cause harm to others may impact how risky an insurance company perceives your application.

Other Factors

Additional factors that can impact how insurance companies view your application’s risk level include whether you work from home or if (and how long) your home has been vacant.

You’ve Been Denied Coverage. Now What?

It can be daunting when you receive an application denial. You did the research. You chose the best insurer for you. And they say no. Do not worry! You may be back at square one but there are other avenues to research a company that will say yes.

Unless you are surrounded by people who rent, odds are one of your neighbors has a homeowner’s insurance company they can recommend. Your real estate agent is another place you can look for a referral. Many agents have relationships with local insurance agents that may be able to work with you, one on one, to get you a policy when others say no.

Local, independent insurance agents are also good resources for investigating WHY you’re application is considered high risk. There may be something you can do to lower your application’s risk, and, therefore, make your application more likely to get a yes from your preferred insurance agency. Additionally, there are plenty of online websites that will help you shop around for, not only the best quote, but a company that will cover your house.

If traditional insurance companies have proven to be a dead end, don’t fret. There are still other options. Your next step should be to contact your state’s insurance department. They can work with you on exploring your insurance options. Many states also offer limited policies that are available to people who cannot find insurance anywhere else. (More on that later.) You may also qualify for what’s called “surplus line insurance.”

Surplus line insurance is not traditional insurance. Companies that offer this kind of insurance are not regulated in the state where they offer policies; just in the state where they operate. This way, they can take higher risks.

FAIR Insurance Plans

FAIR insurance plans are “Fair Access to Insurance Requirements” plans that are offered by some states. These plans are for people who have been unable to obtain insurance anywhere else, and you may be required to prove this.

To start a FAIR insurance plan application, you need to find an independent insurance agent; it doesn’t matter through what insurance company or if that company has denied you insurance before.

These plans offer less insurance and are often more expensive, so should be a last resort. However, they may provide enough coverage to meet the standards required to get a mortgage. Many FAIR plans will cover damage from fire, windstorm, and vandalism. These are the very basics needed to get approved for a mortgage; beyond that, the coverage will vary state by state. If your state does not cover more than that, you may be able to purchase additional, extended coverage to meet your individual needs.

One thing to take into consideration with FAIR plans is that they may require you to take preventative measures on your house, such as installing an anti-theft system or updating your plumbing or electrical systems. If you do not, you do risk losing your policy.

If you do get a FAIR insurance plan and are able to find more comprehensive coverage later, you can cancel your FAIR plan, no problem.

Let’s Keep Your Insurance

Once you have your policy, in many states your insurance company only has 60 days to cancel it. After that, it becomes much harder for them and there are only a few circumstances where they are allowed to cancel your policy, including missing payments, fraud, or if your house suddenly becomes too expensive to insure. But insurers can refuse to renew a policy for many reasons.

There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your policy is renewed, year after year.

Don’t file small claims

If your damages are less than your deductible, it may be prudent to avoid filing a claim. The more claims you file, the more likely it is that your insurer may choose not to renew your policy. But don’t worry. Insurers may wipe the slate clean after five years.

Know the law

Some states will protect homeowners from policy cancellations, especially after natural disasters. Insurance companies are also required to give notice if they intend on cancelling your policy. Depending on the state, insurers have 30 to 120 days to let you know their intention to cancel your policy.

Talk to a private adjuster

If you have home damage and are wondering whether to report a claim, a private adjuster can help you understand your policy and the pros and cons of filing a claim.

Pay your bill on time

Not paying your bill on time is one of the very few reasons that an insurer can cancel your policy in the middle of its term. Paying on time ensures that this doesn’t happen.

Homeowner insurance denial isn’t the end of the story

An insurance policy denial isn’t the end of your home ownership story. There are many options open to you if you are having trouble finding homeowner’s insurance. A little research can open a world of opportunities to you as you look for the perfect insurance solution.

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