Home insurance offers a crucial way to protect your home. Yet, there are homes that some carriers simply will not cover, putting owners at risk should something happen to their property.
Before you buy a home, lower your financial stress by making sure you can get insurance for it — both before and after you purchase it. Here are some things that might make your home uninsurable.
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Vacant or unoccupied properties
When you buy a home insurance policy, your insurer likely will expect you to be in the home within 30 days.
Once you are living there, make sure you don’t leave the home unoccupied for long periods, typically 60 days or more. If you leave your home vacant then you might need to prepare yourself financially for the unexpected.
Vacant properties are at much higher risk of damage from theft and break-ins, as well as flooding from burst pipes. If you expect to be away from your home for an extended time, contact your insurer and ask what you need to do to make sure your policy remains in force.
Homes in hurricane-prone areas
If you live along the Gulf Coast or the Eastern Seaboard, you might have trouble obtaining homeowners insurance that protects against wind and hurricane damage.
Beachfront homes like these tend to be at high risk for damage, even if you protect your home with hurricane-proof components.
Homes with outdated plumbing and electrical systems
It’s easy to see why insurance companies would be hesitant about covering these homes.
Outdated plumbing and electrical systems make homes more likely to suffer substantial damage from flooding, drain backups, and electrical system failures and fires.
If a home is old and hasn’t had the electrical system or plumbing updated, that is a concern for insurers.
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Properties used for day care
Do you plan to open a daycare in your basement to earn a bit of extra money? That decision could impact your homeowner's insurance coverage.
Insurance companies may require you to purchase a business insurance policy to cover your new business activity.
Vacation and second homes
Many insurance companies are less willing to cover second homes, vacation homes, or weekend getaways in the woods.
Such homes are less likely to be protected and more likely to suffer damage from break-ins or leaks when no one is there.
Homes with significant structural damage
A home with foundation issues or a roof that is falling apart will raise red flags with insurers.
Those and other structural components will make insurance companies take a second look to limit coverage for risks.
Homes in a flood zone
Certain areas of the country are designated as flood zones and are more likely to suffer damage from rising waters.
Don’t expect your homeowner's insurance to protect you from flood damage. You will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to get that type of coverage.
Homes with a noted claim history
It’s not your fault if the people who owned the home before you filed one claim after another with their insurance company. However, that history could make it harder for you to obtain coverage now.
A significant claim history causes insurance companies to assume more claims will arrive in the future, and that may cause them to refuse coverage for you.
Properties with wood-burning stoves
A safe fireplace in good condition is one thing, but a wood-burning stove is a different ballgame for most insurance companies.
The risk of a fire occurring is much higher, and that means a bigger risk of claims for companies.
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Homes with aggressive animals
If your home houses a dog breed that’s considered aggressive, that may mean you’ll pay more for insurance or even be denied coverage.
Dogs such as pit bulls often mean bigger insurance bills, even if your particular pooch hasn’t done anything wrong.
Homes with unstable outbuildings
Does the property you own have a barn that’s nearly falling over? Or perhaps there’s a workshop that is used for welding or another dangerous activity.
These are worrisome factors for most insurance companies because the risk of injuries and liability claims is so high.
Pro tip: It's important to verify your coverage when you sign up so that you can eliminate the money stress of not being covered later.
Homes owned by those who have a history of nonpayment
Homeowners who have a history of not paying their insurance premiums may find it difficult to get insurance.
Often, insurers look to the past as an indication of what’s likely to happen in the future. Nonpayment isn’t something they want to deal with on an ongoing basis.
Properties that have attractive nuisances
What is an attractive nuisance? It’s anything that puts your home at risk for liability claims, such as a hot tub, pool, sauna, trampoline, pond, or other feature where people want to gather.
A home with a treehouse is alluring to neighborhood kids who may climb it and fall, for example.
Older homes with limited updates
Let’s say your 150-year-old home suffers a fire and needs significant repairs. The repairs will need to bring the home up to code, and insurance companies want no part of that.
Older homes also are more likely to have hidden problems with things like the plumbing and electrical systems.
Properties in remote areas or the forest
The further the home is away from fire and safety help, the harder it is to insure it. Finding ways to pay your rent is hard enough without worrying about if the location of your home is insurable or not.
The home needs to be easily accessible, so an off-the-grid home poses a higher risk to insurers.
Before you buy a home, make sure you avoid foolish mistakes with your money by ensuring that a home insurance company will cover it.
If the home has structural issues, sits on a wooded lot, or has a barn that’s toppling over, talk to your insurance company about savings options if you repair or remove those threats.
That could save you money and get your home insured properly.