Homeowners Insurance Non-Renewal: What to Do?
If you own a home, you likely know the importance of homeowners insurance. This policy protects your home against losses and damages.
A standard policy offers four levels of protection. This includes liability coverage, personal property coverage, loss of use protection, and dwelling coverage. Dwelling coverage is the most important component of your policy because it protects the actual structure.
Homeowners insurance isn’t required by law, although most mortgage lenders will require a policy. Despite the importance of coverage, though, your home insurance provider can choose “not” to renew your policy once it expires.
Keeping your coverage is essential, so it’s important to understand why a provider might not renew your policy.
What is Home Insurance Non-Renewal?
Even though home insurance protects your most valuable asset, your home insurance provider can choose not to renew your policy.
Some people use the terms non-renewal and cancellation interchangeably, but they aren’t the same.
Your home insurance provider might cancel your policy if you fail to pay the premium or breach the contract.
In these situations, they can cancel your policy at any time during the contract period.
A non-renewal, on the other hand, can occur despite making on-time payments. You’ll receive a certain number of days notice — typically 45 to 60 days before the policy expires.
Reasons for Home Insurance Non-Renewal
There isn’t a single reason for a home insurance non-renewal. Rather, several scenarios increase the likelihood of non-renewal. For example:
1. Too many insurance claims
Although home insurance protects your property, the reality is that too many insurance claims can put your coverage in jeopardy.
Home insurance protects against different types of perils. These include windstorms, lightning, fire, theft, explosion, water damage from a burst pipe, and other named incidents.
These incidents can occur beyond your control.
Too many claims can make you a high-risk customer.
In which case, your insurance provider will either increase your insurance premium, or decide not to renew your policy once it expires.
There are no hard and fast rules regarding an acceptable claims history. However, a home insurance carrier might decide not to renew if you have more than three claims within a three-year period.
2. Coverage no longer available in area
Then again, maybe you haven’t filed any home insurance claims. Yet, your insurance company chooses not to renew your policy.
The reasons for this vary, too.
One common explanation is that your home insurance carrier no longer provides coverage in your area.
Some insurance providers pull out of certain regions due to the higher risk.
For example, maybe there’s been an increase in windstorms, wildfires, or other major weather events in recent years. If so, your insurance provider might feel it’s too expensive to offer coverage in the region. And if so, they won’t renew your policy.
3. Dangerous dog breed
If you’re thinking about adding a four-legged friend to your family, keep in mind that some insurance providers have restricted dog breeds.
As a general rule of thumb, you should notify your home insurance provider if you have animals in the home. Depending on the dog breed, some insurance provider might charge a higher premium due to the higher risk.
This happens when a breed has a history of aggression, either toward humans or other animals.
Some insurance providers will only increase your premium, but others might not renew your policy. Restricted dog breeds include:
- German shepherds
- Pitbull terriers
- Cane corsos
- Staffordshire terriers
- Great Danes
- Doberman pinschers
4. Failed home inspection
If your home is older than 25 or 30 years, your home insurance provider will likely conduct an inspection of the property.
If you haven’t kept up with the home’s maintenance, an inspection might reveal unsafe conditions. In which case the home is too risky to insure.
To keep your policy, you’ll have to make specific improvements to the property within a certain timeframe.
Your home might fail inspection if the roof is old and worn, or if the home has electrical or other safety issues.
5. Attractive nuisances
A swimming pool or trampoline in your backyard can provide hours of family fun. But from an insurance provider’s standpoint, these are risky additions.
In fact, these are known as attractive nuisances.
In other words, these additions can attract children who can then injure themselves.
You could be held liable for injuries that occur on your property — even in cases of trespassing. Especially if you don’t have safety measures in place. So if you add a swimming pool or trampoline, your home insurance provider might decide not to renew your policy.
You might be able to keep the policy if you adhere to their safety requirements. This can include installing a locked fence around your backyard, or adding netting and a soft surface around a trampoline.
6. Bad credit
Depending on your state, your home insurance provider might check your credit before issuing a policy. They can also check your credit before renewing your policy.
Customers with a history of paying their bills on time are likely to pay their insurance premiums on time.
For this reason, a person with good credit typically qualifies for a lower rate.
On the other hand, customers with bad credit might pay a higher premium. And depending on the extent of bad credit, some insurance providers might not renew a customer’s policy.
What to Do If You Receive a Letter of Non-Renewal?
Insurance is important, so take steps to maintain coverage. This is the best way to protect your property against the unexpected.
Without home insurance, you would have to pay damages and losses out-of-pocket. This can be a huge financial burden. Here’s what to do if you receive a non-renewal letter.
Ask for an explanation
Your non-renewal letter will likely provide information regarding the reason.
Sometimes, there’s little you can do to change the situation. This is the case when a carrier no longer offers coverage in the area.
But if the reason is a dangerous dog breed, a failed home inspection, or an attractive nuisance, your provider might continue coverage if you reduce your risk level.
Insurance requirements vary from provider-to-provider. If one carrier won’t protect your property, another might.
Therefore, shop around and get insurance quotes from other providers in the area.
If you insurance provider no longer provides coverage in the region, talk to your neighbors. If they have private home insurance, you might be able to get a policy through their provider.
Look into high-risk insurance
If you’re unable to get private insurance, contact your state’s Department of Insurance.
Ask about Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plans. This is a state-mandate program that provides insurance to homeowners who can’t qualify on the private market.
Understand, though, this coverage is more expensive.
Also, it’s not as comprehensive as a standard policy. These plans offer less coverage for dwelling and personal property, and they don’t typically include loss of use protection.
File a complaint.
If you feel that your provider’s reason for non-renewal is unfair, don’t hesitate to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance.
If they find any wrongdoing on the part of your provider, you’ll get your policy reinstated.
How to Reduce the Chances of a Non-Renewal
Home insurance non-renewals are common, but you can reduce the likelihood of a non-renewal.
For example, limit your number of insurance claims. For minor, inexpensive damage, repair these yourself instead of filing a claim. Especially if you’ve had a claim in the recent past.
Also, be proactive and talk to your insurance agent before getting a dog, installing a swimming pool, or putting a trampoline in your backyard. Are you able to keep your coverage with the addition? Will your premium increase? And if so, by how much?
In addition, keep your home in good condition. This includes making necessary home improvements and keeping the property as safe as possible.
Also, maintaining good credit can keep your policy active and affordable. Pay your bills on time and keep your revolving debt low.
Home insurance isn’t required, but it’s highly recommended if you own a home.
These policies protect against losses and damage after a covered peril, providing peace of mind and financial help.
But under certain circumstances, your insurance provider can decide not to renew your policy. If this happens to you, ask for an explanation, make necessary changes to the property, and if necessary, consider other coverage options.
You can shop for a policy with another provider or look into state run programs. And if you feel that a non-renewal is unjustified, file a complaint with your state.