What to do if your homeowners insurance is canceled

1
LaylaBird/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . This content is powered by HomeInsurance.com (NPN: 8781838). For more information, please see our

Your homeowners insurance protects you from financial devastation should your home be damaged or destroyed. Finding out that your homeowners insurance is canceled may be stressful and frightening. Understanding the types of home insurance cancellations, what causes them and what you can do about each scenario might help you feel more confident in managing your homeowners insurance.

Types of homeowners insurance terminations

There are different types of homeowners insurance terminations. Some have easy solutions, while others might mean you need to find a new insurance company. These types of cancellations apply to condo and renters insurance as well. The three main types are:

Lapses

A homeowners insurance lapse may be the simplest type of issue to fix if you handle it quickly. A policy typically lapses if you failed to make your insurance payments. Having a coverage lapse could put you at risk of having no insurance if your home is broken into or disaster strikes.

Most home insurance companies offer you a grace period in which you can make your payment to reinstate your coverage. If you are responsible for making your payment, paying your premium right away is the fastest way to resolve a lapse issue, as long as you are still within the grace period. If your mortgage company pays your insurance from an escrow account, you may need to call your mortgage lender and request that they release the payment immediately.

Nonrenewals

A nonrenewal letter notifies you that your policy will not renew automatically when your coverage period ends. Nonrenewals can be initiated by you or your carrier. You may decide to initiate a nonrenewal if you have gotten quotes from other companies and decided to switch insurance carriers at your renewal date. Your insurance company may decide to not renew your policy for several reasons, including your claims history and the condition of your home. If you no longer fit into the company’s underwriting profile for any number of reasons, your policy may be nonrenewed.

In other cases, your insurance carrier may no longer operate in your area or might withdraw coverage after a series of costly claim scenarios such as a major flood or other natural disasters. Regardless of the reason, insurance companies are required to notify you in writing if they decide not to renew your homeowners insurance. Most states require companies to give you at least 30 days advance notice, to give you enough time to shop around and find an alternative.

Cancellations

As with nonrenewals, both you or your insurance company may initiate a cancellation. Cancellations differ from nonrenewals in that the last day of coverage does not line up with your policy’s renewal date. For example, if your homeowners insurance policy starts and ends on January 1 every year, a nonrenewal notice will only ever cancel your policy on January 1. A cancellation notice can stop coverage anywhere within the policy term.

Insurance companies may choose to cancel your policy for a number of reasons. If you misrepresented yourself or omitted information during the application process, for example, your policy may be canceled, even if you have only recently purchased your home and policy.

One of the most common reasons that insurance companies cancel home insurance policies is related to inspections. Insurance companies generally do exterior inspections of homes when new policies are written, and on occasion after that. For example, if your roof is in poor condition, your home has structural issues or your company discovers that you own an ineligible dog breed, you may receive a cancellation notice requiring you to correct the issues or risk your policy being canceled altogether.

Insurance companies are required by state laws to send you a written notice of cancellation. Typically, companies must give you at least 30 days of notice. This gives you time to discuss the cancellation with your carrier, correct any concerns so that the company will continue coverage or find a new home insurance company.

You can also initiate a home insurance cancellation. Perhaps you found a cheaper company or you have sold your home. You can call your carrier to request that your policy be canceled on a certain date. You may need to sign a cancellation form to confirm your request.

What to do if your homeowners insurance is canceled

Depending on the type of notice you receive, there are steps you can take to remedy the problem. If you receive a homeowners insurance lapse letter, contact your insurance carrier right away and make your past-due payments. Once you have reinstated your policy, you may also need to let your mortgage company know, since home insurance is required by mortgage lenders. Your lender may purchase a new home insurance policy on your behalf and expect you to pay for it, even if it is far more expensive than your current lapsed policy and does not include any coverage for your personal property. It is important to let your lender know if your coverage has been reinstated, so that it can remove this force-placed coverage. If you receive a lapse letter and your insurance is paid through an escrow account, you may want to contact your mortgage carrier and ask them to send the payment to your insurance company.

If you receive a nonrenewal notice, your first step is to find out why your policy is being terminated. The letter you receive will likely include an explanation or you could call your carrier to get more information. Depending on the situation, you may be able to make changes to your home or policy that will satisfy the insurance company and convince them to keep your coverage.

Similarly to a nonrenewal, if you receive a cancellation notice, talking to your insurance company is a good first step. If your homeowners insurance was canceled after an inspection, you may be able to make the necessary changes to your home, like repairing a deteriorated roof. This could be enough for the company to rescind the cancellation and keep your coverage.

If you are not able to convince your insurance company to keep your policy, it may be harder to find coverage, especially if you have numerous claims or your home is in poor condition. If you are having trouble finding affordable home insurance after a cancellation, check with your state’s insurance commissioner. They may provide a list of carriers who are tasked with providing coverage for harder-to-insure homeowners.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my homeowners insurance being canceled?

There are many reasons why your home insurance could be canceled. You will typically receive a letter with an explanation, giving you a specified amount of time before your coverage ends. Your coverage may have lapsed for nonpayment, your insurance company may decide not to renew your policy due to claims or your company may have discovered issues during your inspection, among other reasons.

Can I contest a home insurance cancellation?

You may be able to contest a cancellation, depending on the situation. If you have an agent, they may be able to work directly with an underwriter to come to a compromise, or you could call your company directly. If you have filed numerous claims, for example, you may be asked to increase your deductible or remove a certain coverage in exchange for the company keeping your policy. However, it may be a good idea to get quotes from other companies as a backup, so that you are not left scrambling to find coverage in a short period of time if your negotiations fail.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.
Reviewed by
Insurance Writer & Editor