Almost three million households have lost their homeowner’s insurance since 2003 according to a 2007 national telephone survey conducted on behalf of Trusted Choice and The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Two-thirds of the households that lost coverage were located in the South. Only half of the non-renewed households said they were able to find other coverage.
As part of the current study, respondents were asked about changes they’ve made since 2003 to secure their home in the event of a natural disaster. Overall, a mere 28 percent of households indicated they have taken steps to secure their homes. Even in the South, where the threat of hurricanes is an annual occurrence, only 31 percent indicated that they had secured their homes.
The survey results also showed that about 35 percent of all American households had experienced a homeowner’s insurance rate increase in the previous 48 months. Twenty-two percent of the respondents answered that they had received anywhere from an 11 to 25 percent rate hike, while 13 percent said that they had received more than a 25 percent increase.
Trusted Choice offers the following tips to lessen the possibility of non-renewal or rate increases:
· Monitor your claim activity – Insurance companies track how many and what type of claims you file. Frequent claim activity, no matter how small, can impact your rates and chance for renewal.
· Stick with one insurance company – An insurance company is more inclined to look past an item on your claims record if you are a long-term customer. Changing insurance companies on a regular basis makes it difficult to build a relationship with an insurer.
· Bundle your coverages – Keeping your homeowner’s and auto policies with one insurer makes you a more attractive customer. An insurance company may think twice about dropping your homeowner’s coverage if it may mean losing your auto insurance business, too.
· Review your deductibles – Make sure that your deductible isn’t so small that you will be submitting every potential claim for payment, nor so large that it will cause financial hardship in the event of a loss.
· Home improvements help – Your home’s wiring, plumbing, heating and roofing should be in good repair at all times. At least twice a year, walk through your home and inspect it for developing problems.
· Know a house’s claim history before you buy it – Ask for a disclosure report, which can be obtained from your real estate agent or the seller’s agent. Insurance companies will be wary of a home with previous structural or water-damage claims.
· Consult your insurance agent – Working closely with an agent may be the easiest way to stay insured affordably. And they will be your advocate when you have a claim or other problem.