What risks may no longer be covered by property insurance policies?
It is not uncommon for insurers to refuse to insure homes with certain risky features--a temperamental dog, a very old roof, or perhaps a trampoline in the back yard.
Florida insurance companies are now adding to their list of characteristics that disqualify a house from being insured. In some cases, risky features render a home completely ineligible for a policy. In others, an insurer will insure the home but not for any losses stemming from the risk. Homeowners may be able to purchase supplemental coverage for certain risks, though it can be expensive.
Increased Water Damage Claims May Be Behind Cost-Cutting
Insurers looking for ways to save money after recent water damage claims may be looking for new "ineligible risks." One insurer recently applied for permission from the State of Florida to exclude homes with solar-paneled roofs and homes whose owners owned more than two dogs. The company has since retreated from the two-dog limit.
Insurers also focus on the homes themselves--the condition of a home's roof, the type of plumbing, the claims a homeowner has filed in the past. Some risks are used by many insurers, e.g. diving boards or pool slides, or pools not enclosed by a 4-foot fence or screen.
Each Insurer Has a List of "Ineligible Risks"
Some examples of risks that may prevent a policy from being issued or renewed include:
- Homes with aluminum single strand wiring
- Applicants who filed a claim for water damage of $10,000 or more with the past three years
- Homes that do not reflect "pride in ownership" or are in a state of disrepair
- Homes with roofs that are past their maximum useful life expectancy
- Homes in which a household member was convicted of a felony in the past ten years
- Seasonal dwellings at the beach or in resort neighborhoods that are left unoccupied for three or more consecutive months per year
- Applicants who own all-terrain vehicles
- Homes with swimming pools that have diving boards or slides
- Homes with temperamental dogs (breeds may include pit bulls, dobermans, german shepherds, chows, great danes and rottweilers)
- Homes with wood shingled roofs.
- Isolated properties not visible from at least two dwellings or from a public road
Homeowners Should Be Careful About Misrepresenting Conditions
Lying about a risk could cause an insurer to cancel coverage and could constitute fraud. At the same time, certain risks, e.g. homes that do not show "pride of ownership," are subject to interpretation.
If your home has risks that may render it ineligible for coverage, or if you are having a dispute with your insurer over your policy, you need expert advice on coverage and claims. An attorney experienced in property and casualty insurance cases can help you proceed from a position of strength.