Before buying your next home here are a couple of items that may increase the cost or make it difficult to get homeowners insurance with a standard carrier.
Knob & Tube Wiring – Homes built prior to the early 1950’s were commonly built with knob & tube wiring. Most insurance companies will not write a policy for a dwelling with this type of electric due to the risk of shocks and fires that can occur. When selecting a home please know that this type of wiring will not be eligible for standard insurance and will require a “non-standard” policy. Be prepared to pay double or more than the price of a standard policy. If the wiring is then upgraded and circuit breakers installed you would be eligible for standard insurance.
Flat Roof – Look for homes that do not have a flat roof. Most insurers will require a pitched roof. A flat roof that exists over a living area could prohibit you from obtaining standard insurance. Gable and Hip style roofs are preferred.
Pools with Slides or Diving Boards – before making your buying decision shop for insurance to see if insurers are writing policies for homes with diving boards and/or slides in your area. Some will, some won’t.
EIFS – Looks like stucco but it’s not. It’s an Exterior Insulation and Finishing System. In the 80’s this was a very popular exterior option which if not properly installed caused drainage problems, mold and rotting wood. Ask the current owner for the name of the manufacturer of the EIFS if available. Decorative Styrofoam window moldings and trim can also be an issue for the same reason. Again, some companies will allow the EIFS, some will not.
Fire Hydrants – Look around for fire hydrants. Is the nearest one within 1000 feet? This is what most carriers would prefer. The faster the fire company can get to the water source the better. The rating of the fire service in your area or if a responding fire department is not within 5 miles could affect your insurance cost.
Underground Oil Tanks – whether it’s currently in use, no longer in use or abandoned – underground oil tanks can be a hazard. Most insurers no longer offer coverage for oil tanks due to leakage and contaminating adjoining properties. If the tank leaks, the clean up can be very expensive. Something to think about before choosing a house with an underground tank.
Upkeep and Maintenance – Your insurer will inspect your new home after issuing your policy – usually within 30 days. If the property has crumbling sidewalks, cracks in the driveway, broken or lack of handrails, chipping paint, branches hanging over the roof or too close to the dwelling – they will tell you to fix those issues or be subject to a cancellation of your policy. Your insurance not only covers the loss of your property but also your liability. Keeping your home in good physical conditioning will prevent future claims.
Trampoline for the Kids? Yes, trampolines can be a lot of fun for the kids, and adults too, but most insurers will not allow them. Before purchasing one consult your insurance agent to make sure it is allowed and that everyone who enters your yard would be covered.
Rescuing a Pitbull or Doberman? It’s a great gesture but your insurance company most likely will not allow it. Before bringing home a dog from a known “aggressive” or Molosser breed, or one with a bite history, consult your insurance agent. Some policies exclude liability for dog bites or injuries due to the animal. A good lawsuit could cost you over $1 Million. Go for the Beagle instead.
Typically there is insurance available for every type of property and for every situation. The difference will be that you will have to pay a lot more and may have to purchase a policy from the “non-standard” market.
If you have any questions regarding this topic please feel free to contact Diane L. Fox at 732.972.1771 x1108. NorthEast Insurance Services, Freehold, NJ. www.northeastins.com.