Remaining Under the Radar with Your Homeowner’s Coverage

If you contact your insurance company to verify coverage for a particular claim, it goes on your record.  Even if you call your agent directly, they might be obligated to inform the insurer of your inquiry.  Too many inquiries, even if you never file a claim, can jeopardize your policy.  Too many claims, regardless of their size, can result in non-renewal at the end of your policy’s term.

Here are several ways to stay under the radar with your insurance company:

  • Don’t file for small claims.  When property damage occurs, get estimates first before calling your insurer or agent.  Pay for small repairs yourself, if possible.
  • Consolidate coverage.  Have your homeowner’s and auto insurance with the same company.  The insurer might think twice about canceling if you’re likely to pull the other coverage and move elsewhere.
  • Increase your deductible.  If you heed the earlier advice and don’t intend to file for small claims, save the money you’re spending on a policy with a $250 deductible and raise it to $500 or even $1000.
  • Insure your home for its replacement cost, instead of the balance of the mortgage, and save money.  Approximately 25 percent of your mortgage represents the cost of the land.  If your home burns to the ground, you’ll still have the land.
  • Stay with the same insurer indefinitely.  You’ll build up a track record, and your insurer might refrain from canceling your policy if you do have a claim. 
  • If you purchase a house, check into a homeowner’s policy before your closing date.  Thanks to the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE), there is a database of insurance claims that inform an insurer if a particular house has ever been subject to a claim.  If previous claims were paid on the house, you’ll have a hard time obtaining coverage, even if you’ve personally never filed a claim.  Furthermore, any insurance you’ll find will be more expensive than standard rates.

At the same time, if you’ve filed claims before and purchase a new home, you could be denied a policy, not because of the house, but because of your own claims history. 

Call your state’s insurance commission to ask about state regulations concerning non-renewal or cancellation.  A few states have laws that prevent an insurer from refusing to renew your policy for claims caused by acts of nature.

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