Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance companies must provide written notice if they choose to nonrenew a policy.
  • You can take action to address a nonrenewal by submitting evidence to your insurance company for reconsideration.
  • Nonrenewal of your home insurance can happen for a variety of reasons, and is different from policy cancellation.

A few months before your homeowners insurance policy’s end date, your insurance company will send you a notice. In most cases, it’s a renewal offer to continue the policy, but in others, it could be a nonrenewal notice.

If you receive a nonrenewal notice, your carrier will state the reason why it is choosing not to renew your policy. Sometimes, it’s an issue that can be addressed and submitted to your carrier for consideration in regard to renewing the policy. In other cases, receiving a nonrenewal notice means that you’ll need to start shopping around for a new homeowners insurance carrier to avoid a lapse in coverage.

Why was my homeowners insurance not renewed?

When homeowners insurance companies choose to nonrenew a policy, they must submit a written notice to the homeowner citing the reason why. Some of the most common reasons why a homeowners insurance company could elect to nonrenew a policy are listed below:

Your area may be designated as too high risk

An insurance provider may decide to no longer sell coverage in your area or reduce the number of policyholders. For example, a carrier may have experienced high losses in a specific zone and decide to reduce its liability, such as during the most recent California wildfires. The California Insurance Commissioner issued a one-year moratorium preventing insurance companies from nonrenewing over one million home insurance policies in the worst-hit wildfire disaster areas.

Your history may affect renewal

Although it may seem like an unfair practice, a carrier can choose not to continue your coverage after the policy expires for multiple reasons, including your homeowner history or changes in circumstances. If you made multiple or costly homeowners insurance claims, your carrier might find you too high risk to insure. Making too many late payments may be another reason a carrier may decide not to offer you another year of coverage.

Other factors that might affect your home insurance renewal include a negative change in your credit score or even getting a new dog. Some insurance companies ban certain dog breeds, even if the dog has never bitten or injured someone. Other potential factors include attractive nuisances, which are potentially harmful features that entice people to your property. These include playground equipment, tree houses or a swimming pool.

Your home is vacant

Many homeowners do not realize that standard home insurance policies often have a vacancy clause. If the home is empty and unoccupied for 30 days or longer (depending on the state), an insurance company may choose to cancel or not renew the home’s insurance policy. If you treat your property as a vacation home, you may want to inform your insurance agent so that they can insure the home with the appropriate policy.

Your home is not well-maintained

On occasion, an insurance company may send a third-party property inspector to your home to do an exterior inspection. During these surveys, the inspector checks your home to ensure that it is well-maintained and that there are no safety hazards, like overgrown trees, debris on the property or deteriorated exterior. If they find your home is not well maintained, potentially increasing the risk of a claim, the carrier may choose to nonrenew your policy.

The insurance company may discontinue underwriting

On rare occasions, an insurance provider may decide to no longer do business in your area or stop selling the type of homeowners insurance you purchased. When this happens, the carrier will notify you of nonrenewal so you may find an alternative insurance company. This is a common issue right now in Florida’s homeowners insurance crisis, where many carriers are choosing to voluntarily leave the state, restrict policy eligibility requirements or liquidate completely.

How to get coverage after nonrenewal

Each state has different regulations for how a carrier can issue an insurance nonrenewal notice, but the average time of notice before the nonrenewal commences is 45 days. From there, depending on the reason for nonrenewal, you have a few options, including:

  • Address the concern. If your home has not been maintained, it may help to take action and resolve the issues as soon as possible. Submitting evidence to your insurance company that you resolved the cause of the nonrenewal may prompt it to reconsider the nonrenewal notice. Taking care of this as early as possible may give you time to shop around for a new homeowners insurance policy just in case the policy isn’t approved for renewal after reconsideration.
  • Question or dispute the nonrenewal. If you feel that the nonrenewal reason is unfair, you may have the option to question or dispute it by calling the insurance provider’s consumer affairs division or contacting your state’s insurance department.
  • Shop around for a new homeowners insurance policy. Letting your current policy lapse could leave you without coverage and increase your insurance rates down the road. And, if you have a mortgage, one of the loan conditions is likely to keep continuous home insurance. If you do not ensure that the home is covered, your lender could purchase force-placed insurance in your name, often at a higher cost.
  • Check the date of your new policy. When buying new home insurance, you’ll likely want to make sure that the effective date is on or a day before the last day of your current coverage to avoid an accidental lapse in coverage. After you purchase the new policy and set the effective date, be sure to send a copy to your lender so that they are aware of the changes.
  • Consider a high-risk home insurer: If your home has been deemed high risk, you might benefit from getting high-risk home insurance. Although these policy types can be more expensive than a standard home policy, they can provide the coverage you need to avoid a gap in insurance.
  • Use your state’s FAIR plan: Some states offer a FAIR Plan, or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan. This government insurance program is for homes that don’t qualify for coverage in the private insurance market.

Frequently asked questions

    • If your insurance provider decides not to continue servicing your home insurance policy, they will send you a nonrenewal notice letter before the policy ends. While states have different laws regarding how much time they have to notify you, insurance companies typically send out notices an average of 45 days before the policy ends. The letter should explain why your policy won’t be renewed.
    • Insurance companies must follow specific rules before they cancel or decide not to renew your policy. These guidelines vary by state, but typically, the insurance carrier must provide you with advance written notice of the cancellation or nonrenewal, usually between 30 and 60 days. In most cases, an insurance company cannot cancel your policy after 60 days of coverage unless you misrepresent yourself in the application or fail to pay your premiums. However, insurance carriers have more flexibility if they choose to simply not renew your policy after expiration.
    • Policy cancellations are caused by specific issues with the policy that can allow the company to stop servicing your policy at any point of coverage. For example, your policy might be cancelled if you don’t pay your premium or you falsify information on your homeowners insurance application. On the other hand, a nonrenewal takes place at the policy’s coverage term and can occur for various reasons. Your insurance provider might nonrenew if you leave your house vacant, the insurance market in your area becomes too high risk or you have been neglecting your home’s upkeep.
    • A nonrenewal can cause a lapse in homeowners insurance if you don’t get a new
      policy in place before the expiration date. If your coverage lapses, the mortgage company may put force-placed insurance on your home. Force-placed insurance generally doesn’t offer as much financial protection and is often more expensive than a standard policy. The cost would be added to your mortgage payment. To get rid of force-placed insurance — or prevent it altogether — be sure to purchase a new policy that goes into effect before a coverage lapse, even if you’re still disputing your nonrenewal.