One of the perks of homeownership is making design choices and choosing upgrades for your home, regardless of whether you invested in a fixer or you’re making an up-to-date home just a little more yours. And usually, your insurance company stays out of it. However, your insurance company can require you to make certain home repairs if there are potential risks that could harm someone or cause property damage. If you’re unwilling or unable to make those repairs, your provider may cancel your homeowners insurance policy.
Here’s what to know about repairs required by your insurance company and what to do if your policy is canceled.
When can my insurance company require repairs?
Your insurance company may require you to make a repair based on information from your insurance application, a discovery made during the initial home inspection, or while another claim is being investigated.
An insurance company will typically give you 30 to 45 days to make a repair, according to Jason L. Austin, an independent insurance agent and owner of J.L. Austin Consulting. If you need more time to arrange repairs you can ask for an extension, but you should request it as early as possible. Not completing the repair in time, and not being communicative with your insurer, could lead to your policy being canceled mid-term (before the end of the policy term) or your insurer may choose to not renew your policy.
What repairs can my insurance company require?
The job of an underwriter, Austin told us, is to “eliminate possible claims before they afford you coverage.” So insurers are on the lookout for anything that could pose a risk to a person or property, or anything in your home that does not comply with current construction standards.
Some common recommended repairs are:
- Old or damaged roof
- A tree branch hanging over the house that could fall
- Broken windows
- Old electrical wiring
- Stairs without a handrail
Are repairs a requirement or recommendation?
Your insurance provider will tell you whether or not a repair is required or simply a suggestion. If they don’t specify, you should definitely ask. But usually, if an insurance company is taking the time to point out an issue, it’s because they want that issue fixed.
If you disagree with your insurance company’s decision, you could try to prove the issue isn’t a hazard by having a licensed professional, such as a roofer, plumber, or electrician, inspect it. However, your insurance company is not beholden to any third-party opinion you obtain. So you may end up paying out-of-pocket for a professional call-out for an inspection and still have to make the repair anyway.
What do I do if my insurance is canceled?
You can try to renew your policy with your insurance provider. However, you will likely still need to complete the mandatory repair in order to have the policy rewritten, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll keep the rate you had before. Premiums can change significantly in a short period of time. “If the policy was written in August and they gave you until October to complete [the repair], and you don’t get it done in time, the rates may be totally different from August to October,” Austin said.
You can also shop around for another insurance company. It’s possible a different insurer may not require the same repair, though you may run into the same issue of higher rates.
How does canceled insurance affect me?
A lapse in homeowners insurance — even for one day — could cause problems for you in the future. Insurance providers like when homeowners have continuous insurance, as it signals to them that you wouldn’t be a risk. A gap in your coverage may negatively affect your insurance credit score, making it difficult to get cheap rates or get accepted by another provider. If you’re close to losing your home insurance, we recommend working out an arrangement or an extension with your provider before it gets canceled. If you can’t come to an agreement with your insurer, look for a new homeowners policy before the end of your current policy to avoid a lapse in coverage.
- If your insurance has already been canceled, review our roundup of the best cheap home insurance companies to shop around for quotes.
- Learn some good tips on how to get lower premiums for your homeowners insurance.
- If your premium quotes seem really high, you might want to reevaluate how much homeowners insurance you need.
- For an overview on buying homeowners insurance, check out our homeowners insurance buyer’s guide.