Do you know the most common causes of cancellations and non-renewals among homeowner’s insurance companies? There are a few things you can do as a homeowner to insure that when a company inspects your home they find a home that they want to insure and not a claim hazard. Below is a list of the most common reasons an insurance company will cancel a policy based on a potential liability hazard &/or the condition of the property.
Roof Condition/Cracked or Curled Shingles:
The condition of the roof is the insurance companies biggest concern, it must be free from cracking, curling or damaged shingles to prevent future claims caused by roof leaks.
Trees & Vegetation touching the roof, siding or guttering of the home:
Keep trees and other vegetation trimmed back away for the dwelling. Avoid limbs hanging over the roof surface. Not only do they rub the shingles and cause damage, but they also are a big hazard in wind/hail or ice storms. Companies prefer that limbs are kept at least 6 feet off of the roof surface. Also dead or diseased trees should be removed promptly, you can be held liable if one of these trees falls on your neighbor’s property.
Peeling paint &/or wood rot:
Companies like to see a well maintained dwelling. If you have peeling paint or damaged siding, driven wind or rain can cause damage that result in an insurance claim. These are warning signs to an insurance company and will cause concern when the property is inspected.
Broken or Bent guttering:
When guttering is damaged it can cause the water flow to be blocked or backed up onto the roof surface. When heavy rain or ice occurs this can cause an ice dam or water blockage that can result in leaking into your home.
Broken windows or doors:
When windows or doors are broken or not working properly this can create insurance claims from leaks or would be intruders being able to enter your home.
Steps without hand rails:
Most companies require hand rails to be installed on steps 3 feet tall or higher (height requirements may vary) to prevent slip and fall liability claims.
Insurance News.net recently reported that dog liability claims nationwide are increasing dramatically, with claims for this type of loss totaling more than $479 Million dollars in 2011 alone. Most companies have a “Prohibited Dog” list that will not allow agents to insure people that own the following breeds: Akita, American Pit Bull Terrier, Bull Mastiff, Doberman Pinscher, Husky, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Wolf/Wolf Hybrid, American Malamute, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chow, German Shepherd, Korean Jindo, Presa Canario, Staffordshire Bull Terrier or any breed with a bite history. In certain situations companies will allow an animal liability exclusion that will not cover any damages for dog bites, but this leaves the homeowner exposed in the event their dog does bite someone.
Swimming Pool or Hot Tub:
Most companies have no problem insuring a home with a swimming pool or hot tub but there are a few situations that may cause a problem. Pools not behind a locked gate are an “attractive nuisance” and will definitely be cause for concern. Above ground pools with a raise up ladder are best to prevent small children from entering on accident. Slides most often cause concern for insurance companies and are prohibited from most insurers. Diving boards are acceptable to some companies and not to others. The depth of the pool with a diving board is very important to prevent dangerous head injuries.
With the exception of a few, most companies will not insure a home with a trampoline. Some will accept it if it has a safety net, others will not accept them at all. AM Best Magazine reported that there are over 100,000 hospital emergency room visits per year from trampoline injuries and at least one death per year over the last 10 years. The majority of hospital room visits are not minor injuries with more that 60% requiring some type of surgery. The American Association of Pediatrics reports that in 2011 20% of all spinal cord injuries to children were a result of trampoline related injuries. The foundation for Spinal Cord Injury Prevention made note that most hospital room visits for trampoline injuries are very serious injuries – including broken necks, spinal cord injuries, and permanently disabling head traumas. Most companies will insure the home if the trampoline is removed.
Managing these types of risks around your home are very important to you and to the insurance industry in keeping down the costs of the ever increasing claims and lawsuits. It is very important to stay informed because if your home is cancelled or non-renewed it may be difficult for you to find other insurance for a price you can afford.