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QUESTION: My home was damaged the insurance co said it was not covered then cancelled my policy. Will another company insure me before I get it fixed?


ANSWER:It is difficult to give a complete answer to this question without reading your policy. It is possible that your insurer is acting unlawfully by cancelling the policy. Unfortunately, some insurers are less than honest and cancel policies the moment a claim is made. This applies to health plans and vehicle insurance just as much as homes. If you have real doubts about the cancellation, ask your local state's Department of Insurance to investigate. If it finds the insurer was acting unlawfully in refusing to honor the policy, it can order payment of the cost of repairs plus compensation.

This does not help you now. So here goes the simple answer. You always insure your home "as is", i.e. with all its existing problems and defects. You cannot buy a policy with a new company and then claim for existing damage. You have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket and hope to recover the money from the original insurer through the Department of Insurance. In theory, there is nothing to prevent any new company from taking on your home but, in practice, you may have problems. The reason is that the fact of your claim may have been registered with CLUE, the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, which stores details of all the claims made by people with insurance policies. The fact you have made a recent claim may deter new insurers or cause them to raise the premium rate. This is so even though the claim was refused. If you find insurance companies turning you down, you should ask your local Department of Insurance to advise. If the Department feels you are being victimized, it can help.

So the advice is simple:

  • it is seriously unwise to be without home insurance — if there is new damage, you should have coverage;
  • use this site to get quotes and try to find a replacement policy as soon as possible;
  • be completely honest about the state of repair — if you are less than honest, this justifies the new insurer in cancelling the new policy when the "oversight" is discovered; and
  • in the meantime, ask your Department of Insurance or a local Legal Aid Center for advice on the wording of your policy and the fact of the cancellation.

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