Homeowners insurance is more than a document; it safeguards your home against unforeseen adversities like theft, fire, or natural disasters. However, there are circumstances where your insurance provider might opt for homeowners insurance cancellation—a scenario every homeowner should be familiar with.
Various reasons can lead to the severing of this insurance protection, ranging from a shift in the policyholder’s risk profile to non-payment of premiums or even misrepresentations. These scenarios highlight the importance of adherence to policy terms and conditions in the insurer-insured relationship.
And although you could take a look at the California Insurance Code yourself, we at Old Harbor prefer a hands-on approach. And, if you want a definitive answer to the “Can An Insurance Company Cancel Your Homeowners Policy” question, look no further than this article.
Homeowners Insurance Cancellation: Legal Framework
Insurance Code of California
The laws governing the homeowners insurance cancellation are in the California Insurance Code. These laws aim to protect consumers while also providing insurance companies with a structured framework to operate within.
Notice Period For Policy Cancellation or Non-Renewal
• Policy Cancellation: California law mandates that an insurer must provide a notice of cancellation at least 20 days before the effective date of cancellation. However, if the cancellation is due to nonpayment of premium, a notice of at least ten days is required.
• Policy Non-Renewal: According to California Insurance Code Section 678.1, insurers are required to provide a notice of non-renewal at least 60 days, but not more than 120 days, in advance of the end of the policy period. This notice should include the reasons for non-renewal, especially if the insurer intends not to renew the policy or to condition the renewal upon specific changes such as reduction of limits, elimination of coverages, increase in deductibles, or a rate increase of more than 25 percent.
Additionally, in the event of non-renewal, a notice must be sent at least 45 days before policy expiration detailing the reason or reasons for the non-renewal.
Common Reasons For Homeonwers Insurance Cancellation
Homeowners insurance cancellation can occur for various reasons. They all concern the policy terms and touch upon various aspects of your agreement with your insurer.
Non-Payment Of Premiums
One of the most straightforward reasons for policy cancellation is the failure to make premium payments on time. When an insurance premium is not paid by the due date, the insurance company goes for the homeowners insurance cancellation.
Fraud Or Misrepresentation
Insurance companies also have the right to cancel a policy if they discover fraud or serious misrepresentation on the policyholder’s part. This could include providing false information during the application process or filing fraudulent claims.
Similar to fraud, material misrepresentation, including providing incorrect information about the property or failing to disclose relevant information, can also lead to policy cancellation. If an insurance company discovers that a policyholder made a “material misrepresentation,” it might choose not to continue the policy.
Changes In The Risk Profile Of The Insured Property
Insurance companies assess the risk profile of a property before issuing a policy. If there are significant changes in the risk profile, such as new construction that hasn’t been reported or a change in the property’s usage, the insurance company may decide to cancel the policy. Moreover, if something about your property becomes too risky or the insurance company discovers a risk it wasn’t aware of initially, it might lead to policy cancellation.
Breach Of Policy Terms
Adhering to the terms of the policy is crucial for maintaining coverage. If a policyholder breaches any of the terms laid out in the policy, the insurance company may cancel the policy. Common breaches might include illegal activities on the property or failure to maintain the property adequately, leading to increased risks.
Sometimes, insurance companies carry out inspections to assess the condition and risk associated with the insured property. If an inspection reveals issues that significantly increase the risk to the insurer, it may result in policy cancellation.
Steps To Take Post-Cancellation
Discovering your homeowners insurance cancellation can be stressful, but take a deep breath; there are steps you can follow to navigate this situation effectively:
- Contact Your Insurance Company: Reach out to your insurance company to understand the reasons behind the cancellation or non-renewal and inquire if there are any measures you can take to reverse the decision.
- Seek Legal or Professional Assistance if Necessary: If you believe the cancellation was unfair or if your insurer didn’t provide a 75-day notice as required by California law, seek assistance from the California Department of Insurance (CDI) at 1-800-927-HELP or visit their website.
- Start Shopping for a New Policy: Don’t panic, but start shopping for a new insurance policy as soon as possible. Contact the insurance agent you’ve been using or seek recommendations for independent insurance agents with relationships with multiple insurance companies.
- Utilize Available Resources: Use resources provided by the California Department of Insurance, such as their list of California home insurance companies and shopping tools to find a new policy. You can also visit the Home Insurance Shopping Help page on the United Policyholders website for additional resources to find insurance in a challenging marketplace.
- Check Financial Strength of New Insurer: Before purchasing a policy from a “non-admitted” or “surplus lines” insurance company, check their financial strength rating with agencies like Demotech or A.M. Best to ensure they have the financial capacity to pay claims.
- Be Informed and Shop Smart: Ensure that your new policy covers the cost of rebuilding your home in compliance with current building codes if it were to be entirely destroyed by a disaster. Shop for a policy that will adequately insure your dwelling for a total loss and add coverage for flood and quake protection if affordable. It’s crucial to ask the right questions and take good notes while shopping to ensure a policy fully protects your assets.
- Engage Local Fire Authorities: Contact your local fire department, Fire Safe Council, or elected officials to find out about fire risk reduction certification, brush clearing assistance programs, or home assessments available in your area to improve your home’s insurability.
Advice On Preventing Policy Cancellation
To help prevent a homeowners insurance cancellation, you must remain proactive and stay on top of the situation. Many insurees tend to overlook the terms or negate to do a few simple steps to help maintain good standing with the insurer and prevent cancellation. Some of the good parts include:
- Regular Maintenance: Keeping your property well-maintained is crucial. Regular maintenance includes trimming overgrown trees, fixing cracks in your sidewalks, checking your roof and siding periodically, and making necessary repairs promptly. A well-maintained property is less likely to pose risks that might lead to insurance cancellation.
- Risk Management: Prepare for potential claims by having a disaster kit ready, especially if you live in a high-risk area. Additionally, keep items on hand for minor repairs and consider installing smart alarms for fire and burglars to prevent incidents that might lead to claims.
- Manage Your Claims: While insurance is there to help you cover the costs of unexpected damages, consider the necessity and timing of filing a claim. Sometimes, it might not be worth filing a claim if the cost is just slightly above your deductible. Also, having too many claims can make your insurer view you as a high-risk policyholder, which might lead to cancellation.
- Review Your Policy Regularly: It’s essential to review your policy regularly to understand the coverage, premiums, and any terms or conditions that might lead to cancellation. If necessary, adjust your policy to ensure it remains in good standing.
- Prepare for Common Risks: Understand the common risks in your area and take measures to mitigate them. By preparing for common risks and maintaining your home accordingly, you can avoid circumstances leading to policy cancellation.
- Pay Your Premiums On Time: Timely payment of your insurance premiums is crucial to prevent policy cancellation. Setting up automatic payments or reminders ensures you never miss a payment deadline.
- Honest Communication: Be honest and upfront with your insurance company about any changes in your circumstances that might affect your policy. Open communication helps prevent misunderstandings that lead to cancellation.
The question, “Can an insurance company cancel your homeowner’s policy?” opens up a realm of procedures and regulations in California’s insurance landscape. Homeowners insurance cancellation, while unsettling, is navigable with the proper understanding of the law and one’s rights.
However, having the right information can make all the difference. Although your insurer can cancel your policy, you can follow the advice this article provides to prevent it. If you’d like further help, don’t hesitate to contact us at Old Harbor, and our friendly customer support will help you out!