Homeowners Insurance Canceled: Next Steps to Ensure Coverage
Insurance isn’t required by law, but a policy can protect your finances and assets. This is why many people purchase life insurance, auto insurance, and of course, home insurance.
If you get a mortgage to buy a home, your lender will require an insurance policy.
In fact, you must provide proof of insurance before closing.
But even if you have home insurance and understand the value of a policy, your insurer might cancel your coverage. This can happen regardless of whether you’ve paid off the home or you have a mortgage.
A notice of cancellation can be stressful, considering the importance of this coverage.
Homeowners insurance protects against certain losses or damages, and without a policy you’ll have to pay certain repair costs yourself.
Reasons for an Insurer to Cancel Your Home Insurance Policy
Although most people benefit from a policy, your insurer might cancel your coverage or refuse to renew.
There isn’t a single reason for this, but rather several.
Common reasons include:
1. Failed inspection (roof issues)
It might come as a surprise, but some home insurance providers conduct inspections on houses. This is more common with older homes, typically those older than 25 years.
But what’s interesting:
These home inspections don’t occur until after the policy start date.
So a home insurance provider might issue a policy, inspect your home, and then decide to cancel your policy.
One issue that can trigger a cancellation is an older roof. There’s a higher risk for water leaks with an older roof due to the greater likelihood of damage from ice or snow. Most roofs have a life expectancy of around 25 to 30 years.
If your roof is older than 30 years, your insurance might cancel your policy or refuse to renew it.
2. Fire hazards
Home insurance policies also protect against fire damage. This includes electrical fires, arson, kitchen fires, and lightning. They also cover natural burning wildfires.
But unfortunately, if you live in an area hit hard by wildfires in recent years, your home insurance provider might refuse to renew your policy.
3. Too many claims
Yes, insurance is a protection. And yes, you pay premiums every month for this protection. But too many claims can put a target on your back. In which case, your home insurance company might drop your coverage or refuse to renew.
There are no hard or fast rules regarding how many claims are too many. Even so, filing two claims within a three to five-year period will likely trigger a rate increase.
If you have “more” than two claims within the same timeframe, your insurer might refuse to renew.
4. Coverage no longer available in area
Similar to wildfires, your insurer might stop offering home insurance if you live in an area hit hard by hurricanes or other windstorms. If you’re able to keep your home insurance policy, the company might drop windstorm protection.
If so, you’ll need to purchase separate windstorm coverage to protect against tornadoes, hurricanes, and other named storms.
5. You own a certain breed of dog
If you’re thinking about getting a family dog, keep in mind that some insurance companies will not issue a policy if you own certain dog breeds.
Restricted dog breeds typically include:
- German shepherds
- Alaskan malamute
- Doberman pinschers
- Great Danes
Some providers might only increase your premium when you own a restricted breed. Others will refuse coverage altogether.
6. Failure to pay premium
If you have a mortgage, chances are you’re paying home insurance premiums through an escrow account. And if so, premiums are included with your mortgage payment.
If you’re not paying through an escrow account, and you don’t keep up with your monthly premiums, your provider can cancel your coverage.
Depending on the severity of the delinquency, they might refuse to reinstate the policy.
7. Poor credit
Keep in mind, too, that some insurance providers use credit to determine your insurance rate.
Customers with the highest credit scores often receive the lowest premium.
If you experience a significant decrease in your credit score, your provider might conclude that you’re too risky, and cancel your policy.
How Does the Cancellation Process Work?
If your home insurance provider cancels your policy, they must provide written notification of a cancellation or non-renewal.
Rules vary, but they usually give at least a 45-days notice. This gives you time to shop around and review your options.
If you receive a letter of cancellation or non-renewal, contact your home insurance provider immediately.
In most cases, the letter will provide information on next steps, including how to keep your coverage— if possible.
For example, if you have an older roof, your provider might continue coverage if you replace the roof. Similarly, you might be able to keep your coverage if you remove a restricted dog breed from the home.
In the case of poor credit, a letter of explanation might suffice if you have extenuating circumstances. Maybe bad credit resulted from a job loss, illness, or injury.
If the home insurer cancels your policy due to nonpayment, they might reinstate your policy if you pay the past due amount. Be mindful, though, you might have to pay future insurance premiums in advance.
What are Your Options After Cancellation?
But unfortunately, some home insurance providers will not budge on a cancellation. If so, one option is to look into high-risk home insurance.
Contact your local state department of insurance. Explain the situation and ask about high-risk plans.
In many states, these are known as FAIR plans, or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plans.
You should be able to get coverage through your state. Just know that these policies are more expensive.
Also, if you have a mortgage loan, your lender might buy coverage on your behalf.
But again, you’ll pay more for this coverage.
How to Reduce the Chance of a Home Insurance Cancellation
Cancellation of homeowners insurance occurs more often than some people realize. But, the good news is that you can take steps to reduce the likelihood of losing your coverage.
It’s important that you properly maintain your home, especially if you have an older home. This includes completing routine inspections, maintenance, and repairs. Periodically, inspect your roof and attic for water leaks. You should also inspect your pipes to ensure they're in good condition.
Also, limit your number of home insurance claims. If possible, cover less expensive losses yourself. Only file a claim when absolutely necessary.
Let’s say a windstorm damages your fence and it only costs $800 to repair. If you have cash in an emergency fund, you might repair the damage yourself. This way, if several bigger incidents happen within the next two to three years, you can file a claim without worrying about losing your coverage
Homeowners insurance provides peace of mind and helps cover the cost of losses and major home damage. But while important, several factors can prompt insurance companies to cancel a policy or refuse renewal.
So it’s important to understand factors that can trigger loss of coverage.
Take steps to properly maintain your home, keep your credit in good standing, and limit your claims. This can keep your coverage affordable and active, so that you’re able to insure your most valuable asset.