Avoid Being Dropped by Home Owner's Insurance Company

By: Jim Waltrip
Insurance companies have become more than a little persnickety about whom and what they will insure these daysand with good reason. Considering the rise in wildfires, hurricanes, terrorist plots and myriad other disasters, they've been at the losing end of the numbers game for the last decade. What is their solution? They whittle clientele to only the bestthose who can play by their very specific rules. For the number crunchers and environmental soothsayers they employ, conserving financial resources, upping the ante with customers and offering new financial products are ways to make up for losses. Unfortunately, in the process, individual consumers have been caught in the crosshairs and dropped by their home owner's insurance providers for reasons having little or nothing to do with them. Some homeowners, in fact, have been dropped at renewal time for making a single claim in a 12-month period. So, what can you do to hang in there with your insurer?

First off: Carefully consider before filing a claim or otherwise contacting your insurance company ; this includes calling your insurance company about your own policy. A lot of insurance companies count telephone queries as claims and will enter them into your file as such, translating them into demerits at your next renewal period. One thing to do if you have a question is to go ahead and call the company, but just don't give them your name.

Second, keep on top of the information your insurance company collects on you. The Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) is a database used by the insurance industry to keep track of claimsand queriesfor each individual insured party. You can access your own record, for free, a maximum of once a year at www.choicetrust.com, a website run by the company that runs the CLUE database. Look through your report very carefully and contact your insurance company about any errors you find, or ask them to explain any exceptionally large claims.

Finally, as long as you don't live in a high-risk area (for crime, natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and so on), make upgrades to your home and report them to your insurance company the next time your home owner's insurance policy renewal period rolls around. Replacing aging roofing, pipes and electrical systems, for example, or upgrading security measures may count towards good will with your insurance company and up your CLUE score enough for you to remain in good standing.

Given all of this ominous advice, there's one thing more that you should remember: Don't be caught without home owner's insurance. In areas recently designated high-risk areas because of the increased frequency of disaster (read: payouts), many insurance companies have decided to pull out of the home owner's insurance biz. Acknowledging, however, that some loans are regulated by the federal government, the latter has provided guarantees that ensure that no one must go uninsuredthough they might have to pay higher premiums to remain so.
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