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Home insurance can shield you from high out-of-pocket expenses should a disaster strike your property. While coverage isn’t mandated by law, your mortgage lender most likely requires you to have a policy. And the sooner you’re able to lock down coverage, the sooner you will be financially protected in the event of a covered claim — which could potentially save you thousands. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team, which includes licensed insurance agents, can help you understand how long homeowners insurance coverage takes to purchase and factors you may want to consider in your planning process.
How much time does it take to get a home insurance quote?
The length of time it takes to get a homeowners insurance quote depends on a number of factors, including how you choose to obtain coverage. There are three main ways that you can get a homeowners insurance quote:
- Online: Time required: 5-15 minutes. Assuming you have all the information about the home, you should be able to get a home insurance quote online relatively quickly. However, not all companies offer online quoting and you’ll be on your own when choosing coverage options, so you might still want to talk to an insurance agent to get your policy started.
- Over the phone: Time required: 15-30 minutes. Phone quotes may take longer than online quotes since you’ll have to relay information to an agent. However, this method can be more accurate than an online quote, and an agent may be able to help you choose the types of coverage that fit your needs.
- At an agency: Time required: 1 hour to a few days. Many home insurance carriers have agency locations, or you could choose to work with an independent insurance agency that represents numerous companies. Because these agencies may be quoting policies for numerous clients, quotes can take longer. However, if you value having a local agent as a guide, this could be a good option.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to get quotes from several providers to find the best homeowners insurance company for your needs. When comparing home insurance quotes, having all of the necessary information at the ready might help expedite the shopping process.
How long does it take to get home insurance for a high-risk home?
A number of things can make a home high risk. Something as simple as having a certain breed of dog or running a business from your home can mean you are a higher risk for property insurance companies. Additionally, being in an area prone to natural disasters — like near a coast — can make your home a higher risk. The features of your home or property can also create risk, like having a swimming pool, trampoline or aging roof.
In fact, homeowners who live in high-risk areas may even be denied coverage by some insurance providers, but that does mean that they are completely out of options. Homeowners who are not eligible for traditional home insurance policies may still receive coverage through a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan, a state-run program. FAIR application processes vary state by state, but in general it’s best to start by contacting your state’s department of insurance.
With that in mind, homeowners with high-risk homes may want to give themselves a little extra time to research companies and find coverage, as their options may be more limited due to eligibility and a more in-depth underwriting process. High-risk homeowners may also have more coverage considerations for their homeowners insurance policies. For example, if you live in an area prone to flooding, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance.
What information do I need for a home insurance quote?
To get a home insurance quote, you’ll need some basic information about yourself and your home. Knowing the type of policy you want to purchase can be helpful, although an agent should be able to help you if you aren’t sure. If you’re shopping for home insurance, taking the following steps could help you speed up the process:
- Have personal information available: If you’re the only person buying the home, this should be fairly easy, as you already know your full name, date of birth and Social Security number. However, if you’re buying the home with anyone else, including a spouse, you’ll also need their information.
- Gather information about the home: An insurance provider will need things like the home’s square footage, the age of the roof, and information about any custom or unique features. You could get this information from the home’s listing, although it may not be entirely accurate. The best way to get accurate information is to look up your home’s property card. You can also ask your real estate agent to talk to the seller to get information on the home’s updates and features.
- Know your closing date: Your policy will need to be effective on your closing date so you are covered as soon as you legally own the home. Your closing date could change, but knowing roughly when your policy is effective can help ensure your quote is accurate. You might even earn an early shopper discount if you shop in advance.
- Get your mortgage information: Your mortgage company will have a specific name and address that needs to be listed on the home insurance policy. This address is called a mortgagee clause, and it helps to ensure that your proof of insurance documentation goes to the right place. Your mortgage clause will also let your insurer know where to send your future property insurance bills if you are paying for your coverage through an escrow account. While you don’t need this to get a quote, you’ll need it to finalize the policy, so getting it early can help speed things up.
The more information you can provide, the more likely you are to choose coverage types that fit your needs. You may also avoid snags and holdups in the purchase process because the insurance carrier will already have the necessary information. Some of the information you provide, especially about the home itself, will also affect the cost of your home insurance. Providing more information upfront can help you obtain a more accurate quote and reduce the changes your policy may need before purchasing the policy.
How long does it take to finalize a home insurance policy?
After obtaining a quote, it should only take a few minutes to finalize and purchase your home insurance policy, assuming you’ve provided all the necessary information during the quoting process. You’ll likely want to do a final check of the coverage and the policy effective date. Make sure you call at least one day ahead of time; many insurance companies will only start policies at 12:01 AM the following day, so you may face delays if you call on the day of your closing. To avoid this, check with the insurer to see if you can purchase your policy early and set the effective date in the future. Many insurers may have this option, and you can move your effective date should your closing date change.
You may have to sign an application. If you’re paying through your mortgage escrow account, you won’t need to make future homeowners insurance payments to your insurer, and your first premium payment is usually included in your closing costs. If you are paying your home insurance yourself and not using an escrow, you’ll probably have to pay at least a month of premium (and possibly a full year, in some circumstances).
Once you buy your policy, your insurance company will send a home insurance declarations page to your title company (if you are closing on a new purchase) and your mortgage company (if you are switching home insurance companies or purchasing a home). This is why the mortgagee clause is so important; incorrect information could mean the proof of your policy doesn’t make it to your lender, resulting in a force-placed policy.
Frequently asked questions
The timeline for getting flood insurance is different from home insurance. Generally, flood policies come with a 30-day waiting period, which means that coverage isn’t effective until 30 days after you purchase the policy. However, the waiting period can be shortened or waived in some circumstances, including a loan closing. If you need flood insurance, be sure to start shopping early and know that you may have a waiting period of up to 30 days before your coverage will be effective.
Home insurance does not require a credit check. Homeowners may put off shopping for coverage if they think that an insurance quote will involve a credit check and thus affect securing their mortgage. Getting an insurance policy before finalizing a mortgage loan isn’t an issue. While getting home insurance quotes can involve your credit rating, insurance providers use a soft pull instead of a hard pull. This means your credit is reviewed — but not affected by — getting a home insurance quote. In fact, you’ll need to get quotes and buy a policy before you’re able to close on your mortgage, so waiting can create delays with buying your home.