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Having a homeowners insurance policy can be an integral part of protecting what might be your largest investment. However, if your home is considered high-risk, or if your homeowner’s profile is viewed as high-risk by insurers, finding the best homeowners insurance might take a few extra steps.
But while the search for high-risk homeowners insurance may take a little more work than normal, it’s not impossible to find insurance for a high-risk home. Knowing what factors contribute to a high-risk home, as well as what insurance options are available to you, could help you find a solution that meets the unique needs for your situation.
- The characteristics of a home and a homeowner’s risk profile could cause an insurance company to consider a home high-risk.
- Understanding your home’s potential for risk could be helpful when looking for ways to mitigate or remove the likelihood of a claim.
- Even if your home is considered high-risk, there are steps you can take to obtain insurance coverage.
What is high-risk homeowners insurance?
When insurance companies evaluate a home’s potential risk, both the factors related to the home and the homeowner’s profile may be taken into consideration. Homeowners insurance companies typically have three main risk-related concerns: what type of loss or losses the house might face, the likelihood of the claim or claims and the associated costs. Greater possibility and higher costs of potential repairs are typically the factors that designate a home as high-risk.
Situations that can make you “high risk” for homeowners insurance
When completing a homeowners insurance quote, an insurance company may also assess a homeowner’s individual profile to determine their risk level. Some factors a company may consider include:
- Previous claims history: If you have filed a prior claim on any property insurance policy, your current carrier could use this to assess your risk level.
- Credit score: In states where credit score is an allowed rating factor for home insurance, insurance companies may use this to evaluate your risk.
- Home usage: This applies if the home will not be your primary residence. Homes that are primarily vacant, such as vacation homes, or homes that are used for business, like short-term rentals, generally have different risk factors than fully owner-occupied homes.
- Animals: Some insurance carriers may have a list of excluded dog breeds, while others may be more concerned about any dog with a history of biting or displaying dangerous tendencies. This could also apply to any animals in the home that are wild, exotic and non-domesticated with tendencies toward aggressive behaviors.
Factors that make a home high risk
Certain characteristics of a home, such as its location in a high-risk area or the home’s condition and type, could categorize it as a high risk to insure. When evaluating a home, insurance companies may consider:
- High crime: Homes located in an area with a high crime rate could be seen as high-risk to insurance carriers.
- Risk of natural disasters: An insurance carrier may consider a home to be high risk if it is in an area that typically has extreme weather, such as hurricanes, tornadoes or wildfires.
- Type of home: Trailers, manufactured and mobile homes, and registered historic homes may be classified as high-risk or denied coverage with a standard homeowners insurance policy.
- Condition: If a home is visibly lacking regular maintenance or over a certain age, an insurance carrier may consider it to be high risk.
These are only some of the most common factors that could make a home high risk. When purchasing a home insurance policy, an insurance inspector will typically visit the property to do an exterior inspection. If there are any concerns, the insurance company will provide that information to you and advise on any action that must be taken to continue coverage.
Why does it matter if your home is considered high risk by insurers?
If your home is considered a high risk by insurance companies, your homeowners insurance could be more expensive when compared to the average cost of home insurance. This could be a significant financial expense over the course of owning your home. You may also have more difficulty finding insurance carriers willing to insure your home, especially without significant exclusions or policy limits.
Additionally, if you do need to file a claim, you may see a surcharge on your future premiums, making the insurance expense that much greater. The claim may also become part of your individual risk profile as a homeowner. When requesting a new homeowners insurance quote from other insurance companies, your claims history and the amounts paid out may be considered.
States or regions that are considered high risk by insurers
While some natural disasters, like home fires and wind storms, are prevalent in regions across the United States, others are more common in certain regions. According to the Red Cross, the most common natural disasters in each geographic region of the United States include:
- West (Pacific): Earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes (Hawaii), volcanoes, tsunami, landslides
- West (Mountain): Earthquakes, wildfires, winter storms
- Midwest: Tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires
- South and Southeast: Tornadoes, landslides, earthquakes, hurricanes
- Mid-Atlantic and New England: hurricanes, winter storms
What to do if your home is high risk
As a high-risk homeowner, the first step is to assess the risk. Is it due to a factor related to your home or individual profile, and is it within your control to fix? In some cases, it may be. Maintaining your home is something that insurance companies evaluate. This includes clearing away any external debris outside of your home and repairing any major cracks or damages. You may also want to consider the age of your roof and evaluate whether it needs replacement, and decide whether or not you should update any electrical, plumbing and heating systems in your home.
However, some risks are outside of your control and, as such, you may need to find alternative ways to address the hurdles. When looking for high-risk homeowners insurance in these situations, some steps could include:
- Obtaining FAIR plan insurance: A Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plan, or FAIR plan, is a government insurance program intended for people who fail to find standard coverage in the private market. Homeowners who insure their homes via a FAIR Plan are typically not eligible for coverage through private insurers because their home is located in a high-risk area or there are other red-flags that concern insurers.
- Talk to your neighbors: If your home is located in a high-risk area, your neighbors may have an existing high-risk homeowners insurance policy for their home, as they may have dealt with similar issues. Learning which company insures the other homes in your neighborhood could give you an idea of the companies to request a quote from for your home.
- Speak to a licensed insurance agent: Choosing a local agent with experience in your area may be able to help connect you with carriers that specialize in high-risk homeowners insurance.