Homeowners insurance binder: What is it and how do I get one?

A home insurance binder is a document provided by your insurer that serves as temporary proof of coverage before you receive your actual policy.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor at Policygenius specializing in property and casualty insurance. His work has been featured on Property Casualty 360, Fatherly, MarketWatch, and more.

&

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

Updated October 8, 2021|5 min read

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When you buy a home with a mortgage, your lender will require you to get a homeowners insurance policy and provide proof of coverage before you can close on the loan. Once you buy a policy, your insurance company will issue you an insurance binder, which is a document that can temporarily serve as proof of insurance while you wait to receive your actual policy documentation.

Key Takeaways

  • An insurance binder is a temporary proof of homeowners insurance provided by your insurance company

  • You may need an insurance binder to close on a home mortgage

  • The binder will include information about your insurance such as policy coverage limits and covered perils

  • Insurance binders aren’t permanent, they typically expire in 30–60 days

What is an insurance binder?

An insurance binder is a legal agreement between you and the insurance company that provides proof of insurance for a temporary period of time — typically 30–60 days. It highlights key information about your insurance policy that is necessary to secure a mortgage or auto loan. 

If you’re taking out a mortgage on a new house, you’ll need a homeowners insurance binder to provide evidence to your lender that your policy has the required amount of coverage. It also includes other helpful information, like the types of losses, or perils, your home is protected against and the length of the policy.

Genius tip

Thanks to advances in technology, some home insurance companies are able to accept and issue policies faster and more accurately, so it’s possible that you’ll be issued the full policy rather than a binder. But more traditional companies will likely issue you a binder, at least at the outset.

What’s included in a homeowners insurance binder?

Your homeowners insurance binder should clearly state that your policy has been issued or will soon be active so that your lender knows for sure that your home is covered and their investment is protected. Additionally, the contract should include the information listed below.

Details about the insurance company

Your homeowners insurance binder should indicate the name of the company insuring your home as well as contact information, like a phone number and email. You’ll also need to provide a policy number or customer ID so that it’s easy for the lender to reference your policy.

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The named insured and loss payee

The binder must specify whose policy it is, also known as the named insured. If you own the home and you’re married, you and your spouse will likely be listed as named insureds. Your mortgage company will require that it be listed on the policy as a loss payee. Adding themselves as a loss payee on your policy means if there are any changes made to the policy or you file a claim, they will be notified. This information will also be included in the binder. 

What type of property you’re insuring

The insurance binder should include a section that identifies the type of property being insured. In the case of home insurance, the binder would include a description of the home and the address of the insured property. 

The policy effective date and expiration date

The insurance binder will need to include the policy effective date and expiration date, or when coverage on the home begins and ends. It should also include how long the binder itself is valid. In most cases, binders are valid for up to a month, sometimes longer.

The type of insurance policy 

Your insurance binder will also specify the category of policy under which the property is being insured. There will likely be different sections for property, general liability, vehicle liability, and so forth.

You’ll want to make sure the property section is filled out and that it specifies what type of damage or loss the property is protected from. It may give you the option to specify if your home insurance is a “basic”, “broad”, or “special” form of coverage. It may also include the option to write in a different coverage form if the binder is for, say, flood insurance and not homeowners insurance.

But if you purchased a standard HO-3 homeowners insurance policy — the policy type for most single-family homes — you’ll want to make sure the “special” form box is checked so that your lender knows your home has all of the necessary coverage.

Perils insured against

This ties in somewhat with the last section — but your binder may have a section where you can indicate which perils are covered by the policy. Standard homeowners insurance protects your home against things like weather-related damage, theft, and vandalism. You’ll want your binder to include as much information about which types of hazards your home is protected against. 

Your policy coverage amounts

Your lender will want proof that the coverage amount on the home is high enough so that it can be rebuilt from the ground up in the event of a disaster. You can find the insured value of the home by looking at the dwelling coverage limit on your initial quote. Your insurance company may also input that amount for you in the insurance binder.

Your deductible amount

The binder should include your policy deductible or deductibles, which is the amount you’re responsible for paying on a claim before insurance will cover it. If your policy includes a separate percentage deductible for wind and hail or hurricane damage, your mortgage company may want the binder to include proof that the deductible doesn’t exceed a certain amount, like 10%.

Who needs a homeowners insurance binder?

If you’re taking out a mortgage, you’ll need to get an insurance binder from your insurer after purchasing coverage. Your lender will require this evidence to ensure its investment is protected before letting you close on the loan. 

Your lender will typically require your insurance binder at least three days out from the closing date, but it’s also possible they’ll require it weeks in advance. Be sure to check with your lender and give yourself time to shop, compare, and make an informed home insurance purchase.

Genius tip

The reason you need an insurance binder and can’t simply reference the actual policy is because homeowners insurance doesn’t go into effect right away — you need to go through underwriting before the policy itself is issued. A binder acts as temporary proof to your mortgage company that you acquired coverage. Keep in mind that the document itself expires, so you’ll need to provide it to your mortgage company shortly after its issuance date.

How do I get a homeowners insurance binder?

Once you’ve settled on a policy for your home and paid your premium, the insurer will issue you an insurance binder to act as temporary proof of coverage while they finalize the details of your policy.

If you’re proactive about comparing and buying coverage, it’s possible that your policy will be issued long before closing and you won’t have a need for the binder. But if you’re in a time crunch and buying coverage a week or so out from closing, you’ll need an insurance binder.

Frequently asked questions

Do homeowners insurance binders expire?

Yes, homeowners insurance binders are temporary and typically expire within 30 to 60 days.

When would you use a homeowners insurance binder?

If you need to provide your mortgage lender proof of insurance but your policy hasn’t been issued yet, you’ll need an insurance binder to prove to them that your home is insured.

What’s the difference between an insurance binder and a declarations page?

A declarations page is a sinlge page summary of your homeowners insurance policy details. Like an insurance binder, a dec page can be used as proof of insurance. However, you only receive your dec page once your policy is issued. Until then, you’ll need to use an insurance binder as proof of coverage.

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