You finally found your dream home in the country with room for your wife’s Doberman to run free. Granted, the house is a bit rough from a small fire. But, the previous owner had his claim settled and made the repairs. You put your money down and negotiated a reasonable mortgage. Now to get some insurance on the place and start enjoying it. But, when your agent gave you a homeowner insurance quote, the shock came. The cost of the insurance would be too high. Why?
The agent explained that your new place had a claim history, your dog was an unacceptable breed, your property was too far from a fire station, and it lacked any security or alarm systems. These are the four factors that affected your homeowners coverage that you didn’t know about.
A substantial segment of the insured population own dogs. Certain breeds have been identified as the more dangerous based on past history, and certain insurance companies have discriminated against these outlaw breeds.
Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Doberman Pinschers, or mixtures of these breeds are considered unacceptable as they are notorious for aggressive behavior. However, any dog, regardless of breed, has the capability to cause severe injury.
A number of options have been adopted by various insurers. Some have identified the dog breeds accounting for the majority of bites, and determine them ineligible for coverage. Others base policy prices on all dog bite cases regardless of breed. Others exclude all dogs from coverage. A few companies have not excluded any dog breeds and only increase premiums for dogs with a bite history.
Past homeowner insurance claims made either by you on a previous property, or by the previous owner of your present property can significantly raise the cost of your homeowner insurance or, make your home uninsurable if you and/or the home has had two or more claims in the past three years. Even with the required home inspections, a property with a history of insurance claims is going to cost substantially more to reinsure. And, if you as an individual have a claims record, the cost shoots up proportionately.
You may not have the claims history of a property available, but your insurance agent can access it through the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) database.
This database, which has been in operation since 1992 has recorded the causes of loss for claims submitted to insurers for payment. Potential insurers can access the database for information on claims filed within the last seven years on the property, or by you as an individual.
Fire Station Distance:
The distance from your home to a fire station and a fire hydrant will have a substantial effect on your insurance premium. Coverage costs more if your home is greater than five miles from a station and over one thousand feet from a hydrant.
Insurance companies use a Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS) developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This schedule assesses and grades the fire-suppression system for a community based on how well a fire department reacts to alarms(10%), the number of available engines and the water requirements needed to fight a fire (50%) and, the community’s water supply (40%). On this basis a community is assigned a Public Protection Classification (PPC) number.
If your home is in an area with a low PPC, you can enjoy good fire protection and lower insurance premiums. If your property is rated PPC10 many insurers will not even issue you a policy.
There are a number of security measures you can adopt to protect your home and reduce your homeowners insurance cost. Many companies offer discounts for the installation of the various alarm and security systems.
The discount depends on the company. Deadbolt locks and a simple burglar alarm system can discount your cost up to ten percent. Discounts can be as high as twenty percent for a home security system that is connected to local services. Motion detectors, carbon monoxide sensors and flood detection devices may also qualify for reductions.
Obviously, you will probably have minimal success in disputing the claims records, and you certainly cannot move your property closer to the fire station. You can, however, exercise some judgment in choosing an acceptable breed for your next canine companion, and a security and alarm upgrade for the protection of your home and family would be the wisest decision.