More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Updated January 14, 2021
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Homeowners insurance protects your home, personal property, and belongings when they’re damaged in a covered loss. The way you receive reimbursement after a loss is to file a home insurance claim. You can expect claims to stay on your record for anywhere between five and seven years. Even if a claim was filed by someone who previously lived in your home, it could still show up on your record if it was reported within that five to seven year period.
A homeowners claim can impact your insurance in a number of ways, including causing your rates to rise or excluding you from coverage. When you apply for a new homeowners insurance policy, your rates will be determined, in part, by your claims history and your likelihood to file a claim. You may be denied coverage altogether if companies that are more risk-averse see you’ve filed multiple claims. Here’s what you need to know about your claims history and how it will affect your home insurance rates.
Home insurance claims can stay on your record for up to seven years, but most companies will only look at the past five years of your claims history
Your home insurance rates will be impacted by your claims history, and even the type of damage you reported
You should evaluate any damage to make sure it’s worth it before filing a claim
Most home insurance claims will stay on your record between five and seven years but the exact time frame depends on the insurance company that's pulling your claims history. The amount of time can also depend on the type of damage that was reported. Claims that were filed by the previous owners of your home may also show up on your claims history.
When you apply for home insurance, most companies will access your claims history from the last five years through a database like the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange, or CLUE. Based on the information they find in your CLUE report, an insurance company may set your rates higher or deny you coverage altogether.
Your CLUE report may also include claims from past owners if they lived in the home within the past five years. Depending on the nature of those previous claims, an insurer may consider your home or area at a higher risk for certain types of losses and you could be charged a higher premium as a result. If you have an extensive claims history, insurers may also quote you higher premiums since it’s likely that you’ll continue to file more claims.
It could take days, weeks, or months to settle a single claim, depending on the type of damage. But a claim can continue to affect your insurance rates for years after it’s settled, by leading to higher rates or making you ineligible for certain discounts.
The type of damage you’re reporting also matters, because not all losses affect your insurance equally. Some claims are considered “high-penalty” meaning they’re more likely to increase your rates over time. Water damage, theft, and dog-bite claims are all more likely to lead to higher rates, while “low-penalty” claims for extreme but rare weather conditions like a lightning storm are less likely to affect your premiums.
Personal liability claims are also known to increase your rates because they come with expensive legal fees and settlements, and any claims involving fire may also cause your insurance rates to go up because the damage could lead to thousands of dollars in repairs.
In addition to your own home insurance claims, your rates may also be impacted by how often people in your neighborhood file claims and the types of damage they report. If you live in an area where vandalism is common and your neighbors are constantly filing claims for the damage, your premiums may increase based on the likelihood of you filing a similar claim.
After you file a homeowners insurance claim, you might hear from your insurer that your rates are going up, or you may find out at renewal that your rates are increasing for the coming policy term. This is especially likely if you’ve filed multiple claims.
Having a claim on your record can also make you ineligible for a claims-free discount. However if you don’t file any additional claims for an extended period of time, you may be eligible for the discount again.
It’s always best to use common sense before you file a claim. Claims are not worth filing if the cost to repair the covered loss is close to your deductible because you’d have to pay for the damage either way.
For example, if your septic tank is damaged and the estimated cost to repair it is $1,100 and your home insurance deductible is $1,000, your insurance company would only cover the remaining $100 which isn’t worth the potential hit on your record.
But home insurance is there for a reason, and filing a claim is often unavoidable. If your rates go up after a claim, or you find out at renewal that your rates are increasing, it’s probably a good time to reshop your home insurance coverage. You may find that you’re able to get the identical coverage for a much lower rate, even with a claim on your record.
Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.
Stephanie has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
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