7 types of homes that are hard to insure

The home of your dreams may be a nightmare to insure if it's built in a disaster-prone area. The same can be true if the home is above a certain age or has a checkered claims history.  It doesn't necessarily mean you can't find homeowners insurance, but you may end up paying a steep price.  Many times you can't find (a price) you're willing to pay.

While the average homeowners insurance premium was $1,228 in 2016, Florida homeowners paid a whopping $3,575 for $200,000 dwelling and $100,000 liability coverage with a $1,000 deductible. 

Most people buy homeowners insurance on the standard market, but millions of homeowners around the country are forced to buy their insurance on the residual market. That market is sponsored by each state and provides coverage when it's not available through traditional private homeowners insurance companies.  About 6% of homeowners file a claim each year. Property claims, such as thefts, accounted for 98% of claims. Fire and lightning are the most costly claims on average.   If you own one of these hard-to-insure homes, you may have to dig deep into your pocket.

Homes in disaster-prone areas

Each year, the United States gets hit with dozens of disasters, from hurricanes to earthquakes to tornadoes to wildfires.  And while you probably adore your beachfront home or secluded nature retreat, because of the risks tied to the location, you're probably paying big bucks for homeowners insurance.

But you can take steps to decrease those risks. If you live in area that's prone to wildfires, you can clear brush from around your home or make sure your roof is made from non-combustible materials.

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you might want to add hurricane shutters or install straps to secure your roof to your home.  The standard market will be more likely to insure you if you've taken certain appropriate measures to mitigate the likelihood of wind damage.

Older homes

You love the charm of your 1920s bungalow or Victorian-era home, but the age and style make them harder to insure.  Interesting architectural features can make older homes unique, but they also can make them more costly to repair.

Insurers also are likely to shy away from insuring your home if the electrical system and plumbing haven't been updated or the roof hasn't been replaced. Insurance companies are interested in learning about any upgrades, remodeling and updates that may have occurred over the years.  If possible, provide your insurer with blueprints, receipts, photographs and other documentation to show the remodeling and upgrades that you've made.

Vacation homes

Your vacation home may be your own personal retreat, but because it's unoccupied much of the year, it can be a challenge to insure.  Because you probably only visit your vacation home or second home for a few weeks or months each year, a problem, such as a water leak, can go undetected and cause major damage while you're away.

It also can become a magnet for thieves. Homes that are known to be unoccupied for a period of time can get the attention of unscrupulous individuals, who may view the home as an attractive target to damage or rob.  Installing a burglar and fire alarm can help decrease your risks, as does asking neighbors to help keep an eye on your property when you are not around.

Homes with a trampoline or pool

Having a swimming pool or trampoline might make for good summertime fun, but your homeowners insurance company may see them as an "attractive nuisance" that can tempt children to come into your yard when you're not home.  You also run the risk of someone being injured on your trampoline or hurt or killed in your pool, and you could be sued.

Some insurers may refuse to insure your home if it has a pool or trampoline or charge you higher rates. The average rate increase for having a pool or trampoline is less than 1% though.  Putting a locked fence around your pool and having a net around your trampoline could help reduce risks, and will most likely be required to even get insurance.

Homes with certain pets

Americans love their dogs. Certain breeds can be expensive, not in terms of what you pay for them, but in terms of insurance liability.  Home insurance companies paid $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites in 2018.  The average dog bite claim was $39,017. 

You may find your insurer will set limits on the amount it will pay for a dog-bite liability claim, with you having to pay the rest out of pocket, or even deny you coverage if you own certain breeds, such as a pit bull. In some cases you can only get coverage if you take your dog to obedience classes or make sure he's restrained.

Vacant homes

You got a great deal on a vacant foreclosed home, but insuring it could cost you.  You'll need to have a home inspection to determine the extent of the problems - and the length of time the home might need to remain vacant while it's undergoing repairs.

Homes that have been vacant for long periods of time deteriorate faster than those that are occupied. And they can draw unwanted attention from bad guys.  All kinds of things could go wrong if no one is minding the property.

Even a major remodeling project on your current home - regardless of whether you need to move out or not - can cause additional insurance concerns, such as liability and workers compensation insurance.  Some insurance carriers may offer coverage to protect you from vandalism and coverage for certain perils, such as fire or wind damage, if your home is unoccupied.

Homes with a lengthy claims history

It may not even be your fault, but owning a home with a lengthy claims history can drive up your rates.

You can purchase a C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) Home Seller's Disclosure Report, which has information on the insurance claims filed at the home over the past five years.

A history of multiple claims could indicate major maintenance problems with the home.

When you can't find homeowners insurance

When all else fails and you can't find insurance with a private company, you can look to the residual market.

In fiscal year 2018, these policies covered about 1.3 million homes.  Most states have Fair Access to Insurance (FAIR) Plans, five coastal Southern states have Beach and Windstorm Plans, and Florida and Louisiana have state-run insurance companies.  Florida has the most policies covered under these plans.

Posted 1:00 PM

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