Property conditions that can cause a home insurance policy denial
Your home insurance cost is usually hundreds of dollars, but your insurance company picks up hundreds of thousands if the worst happens. Therefore, potential insurance carriers will require you to meet specific house or property criteria.
We’ll next examine some of the most common areas of concern that an insurance company has. This list is not exhaustive; some carriers are more forgiving than others. Yet, if the following items are acceptable, your likelihood of a policy approval will rise.
Your roof’s age or condition could be trouble
Here in Central New York, we get a lot of snow each Winter (and Fall and Spring). Your roof carries the weight of all the ice and snow, and your homeowner’s insurance provides coverage if that frozen stuff melts and leaks into the house. That happens through a process called ice damming.
Besides the potential for water intrusion, your roof is susceptible to wind, hail, and sleet. Again, all things your homeowner’s insurance covers. That is why the insurance company will ask about the age and condition of your roof any time you seek a new quote.
After about 20 or 25 years, shingled roofs become less resistant to the elements. Most insurance carriers will not offer a home policy to you if your roof is over 20 years old. Even if your roof comes with a 40-year warranty, your insurance options will reduce once it celebrates its 20th birthday. There is more latitude that the carrier will give to metal roofs, however.
Age is not the only factor; the insurance carrier also wants to know about the roof’s current condition. Things like curling or missing shingles will give pause to the insurance carrier. If your roof has a lot of moss build-up, that will also be a problem.
If the roof on your house sounds like the one we just mentioned, you can still find insurance coverage. It won’t be a traditional homeowners policy, as the alternative will limit your coverage.
Your heating system affects your home insurance options
Your heating system is another concern for insurance companies. To begin with, you must have a central heating system, preferably one controlled by a thermostat. Absent central heat, homeowner’s insurance will not be an option. You will have to seek an alternative type of policy.
Assuming you have central heat, the insurance carrier will want to know a couple of things, and the primary one is its age. Furnaces over 25 years old are enough for many companies to pass on offering you an insurance policy. The concern is that old furnaces break and can cause a fire or lead to frozen pipes.
If the furnace is older, some carriers will ask about annual professional maintenance, which can be enough to remove concerns.
The style of your electrical wiring is a significant insurance factor
Modern electricity is fantastic. But, many insurance carriers define modern as 1980 or sooner. Many older houses have outdated or dangerous electrical wiring. When you drive through the Village of Baldwinsville, it’s hard to find houses built within the last 40 years. So, the electrical system is an often discussed topic in our area.
Plenty of houses have had their electrical system updated since construction. Still, some have not. If you have an older home, these wiring styles could cause the company to deny your home insurance application:
Between 1965 and 1972, copper prices were very high, so aluminum wiring quickly became the popular choice. Back then, most houses built used aluminum wiring for their electrical systems, which was not the best idea.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has stated that homes with aluminum have a fire risk 55 times that of those with copper wiring. Insurance carriers run when they see statistics like that. Learn more about aluminum wiring and why its fire hazard risk is so significant.
Many people say fuses when they are referring to a circuit breaker. If you have a gray panel with a couple of columns of switches that you can click back and forth, that is a circuit breaker. Provided the circuits connect with copper wiring, you’re good. Fuses are different.
Modern appliances and other electric devices need more amps than a fuse service can provide. Fuses have a heightened risk of being tampered with, so they can withstand a large appliance. The older the house, the more that likelihood exists, and insurance carriers view this as too risky.
Some carriers will still consider your application if you have fuses used in your electrical system. Most will request an interior inspection of the house before committing.
Knob & tube
Houses built before 1950 might have knob & tube wiring for their electrical system. The knob and tube style has a variety of hazards that can lead to problems. The biggest one is that it is ungrounded, meaning there aren’t 3-prong electrical outlets. Ungrounded outlets in wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms pose a safety risk.
Age has not been kind to many knob and tube wiring systems, as the wires can also become brittle and fray and sag. Finding parts and qualified electricians to fix them is also challenging, which has led to poor upkeep and heightened electrical fire risk.
Finding insurance carriers willing to move forward will be challenging if you have a house with an active knob and tube service. Still, options remain, so reach out to us if you have knob and tube in your home.
The health and location of trees on the property will also be a consideration for the insurance carrier. The insurance company is not insuring the tree but the buildings and other structures around them. For example, the tree’s proximity to the house is critical.
If the tree has branches overhanging the roof, the carrier might ask you to cut them back. Dead or decaying trees near the house and other insured items might pose another threat. If either of these examples applies to you, consider taking steps to prune or remove a troublesome tree.
Remember, your home insurance policy protects you from falling objects. In the case of insurance, a tree is an object.
Swimming pools have certain features that can cause problems
Whether you own an above-ground or an inground pool, the cost to replace it can be expensive. However, that is not why your home insurance company is interested in your pool. If you read, “What does my home insurance cover me for?” you’ll recall that personal liability is part of the “big 6” coverages, and the liability risk is why they care.
You’ll be asked about things like a diving board and slide if you own an inground pool. Some carriers will not offer a policy if your pool has either, while others might be okay with one but not both.
Because above ground-pools don’t have fence requirements, the insurance company will want to ensure that access to it is restricted. Therefore stairs must be able to be raised and locked. If the pool is part of a back deck, you’ll have to ensure that any access points are gated and secured.
Trampolines can bounce you out of consideration
Like the pool, it’s not the cost of the trampoline but the liability exposure it presents. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, in 2018, 313,850 trampoline-related injuries resulted in medical treatment. If a child visiting your house suffers a neck injury on your trampoline, their family might sue. If that were to happen, the insurance company must pay to defend you.
Many insurance carriers refuse to offer a policy when a trampoline is present, and others will expressly exclude coverage for any liability arising from a trampoline injury. In the eyes of the insurance company, no amount of safety features will change this condition.
Attractive nuisances that the neighborhood kids can’t ignore
The pool and the trampoline aren’t the only things that bring activity to your property. Yes, kids love to play with those, but they are also attracted to less kid-related things. Here is a list of things you might have to remove or secure if any are out in the open.
- Old vehicles
- Old boats
- Discarded appliances
- Gravel piles
- Tractors and farm equipment
All the items above can lead to injuries and a lawsuit. Your insurance company will review these and decide if it’s something they can work with or not. You will usually be allowed to remove the items from the property and still qualify for the home insurance policy.
What can I do if I don’t think my house will qualify for home insurance?
Contact us if you’ve read enough here to conclude that you might have some challenges getting insurance. As an independent insurance agency, we have relationships with multiple insurance companies. It’s likely we can find a suitable homeowners insurance policy for you.
There are other options if these things prevent you from getting a traditional home insurance policy. We’ll explore those with you in greater detail when we speak. To begin that conversation, complete our brief contact form below, and one of our insurance pros will be in touch ASAP.
Are you ready to request a new insurance quote for your house? Let us know by tapping the “Get a Quote” button below. For more information on homeowners insurance, read “How to Get Home Insurance in 2022.”