Home Owner's Insurance

One of the first steps in buying a new home is obtaining homeowners insurance. Lenders will not close on a home unless it is insured. Unfortunately, homeowners sometimes discover that their new home does not qualify for standard insurance, despite having passed home inspections. While each insurance company has its own underwriting standards and procedures, below are some things that may make obtaining insurance more difficult or expensive:
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Although they typically insure personal property owned or used by insureds while it is anywhere in the world, most homeowner insurance policies contain a special limitation of liability for “business” personal property. For example, under the 2011 edition of the ISO Homeowners 3-Special Form, property on the residence premises used primarily for business purposes is limited to $2,500, while property off the residence premises used primarily for business purposes is limited to $500. The form defines “business” as

  1. a trade, profession or occupation engaged in on a full-time, part-time or occasional basis or
  2. any other activity engaged in for money or other compensation subject to certain exceptions.1


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Snowmageddon buried western New York this week with the lake-effect snowfall. Winter storms are the third-largest cause of catastrophic losses in the United States (after hurricanes and tornadoes). The good news for homeowners is that in most cases their claim for snow-related damages will be covered under the standard homeowners insurance policy.


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Standard homeowners policy language excludes losses caused by water, however what is meant by this is not always clear. Water damage generally includes flood, sewer backup and seepage from water below ground. Despite these categories, disputes often arise regarding whether damages caused by water are covered.


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Just before the start of the 2014 Hurricane Season, People’s Trust Insurance Company, an unorthodox company, is now pulling insurance away from thousands. Last year, the company was awarded the 2013 Governor’s Innovators in Business Award for being a company that has set a standard for entrepreneurship and creativity. But this year, People’s has turned its back on many homeowners, leaving them scrambling for insurance.


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You don’t have to have a law degree or be an insurance guru to see through one of the recent arguments People’s Trust has been using when denying insurance claims. Buying insurance with People’s Trust is very different than the way insurance is purchased with other Florida carriers. The basic process is different because People’s Trust doesn’t require policyholders to fill out or sign an application for insurance but then argues that the homeowner lied on the “insurance application” and the coverage is void! When an insurance company alleges someone has lied on an application, the insurance company should be required to produce the form with that insured’s signature, but People’s Trust has had no written application to produce for these “verbal sales call” policies.


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On August 18, 2010, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner issued a press release encouraging California homeowners to review their homeowners’ policies and to consider their options regarding vacancy protection. His reasoning: As the U.S. housing market struggles to rebound, many homeowners are stuck with hard-to-sell properties. Frustrated home owners who must relocate for a new job opportunity, want to downsize, or simply want to buy a new place, have left homes empty. Vacant or unoccupied homes can leave the homeowner exposed to loss and liability that may not be covered by their insurance.


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