What you need to know if your insurance company isn’t renewing your policy
NEW YORK CNNMoney.com) – Hurricane season will be here before we
know it. And insurance companies have already been hedging their bets –
canceling and not renewing policies in places like Florida, New York,
Texas and Louisiana.
If you’re getting left high and dry by your insurance company,
we’re going to tell you what you need to know.
1. Be heard
If you get a letter stating your insurer won’t be renewing your
policy, you need to be the squeaky wheel. Don’t wait to call your state
While laws vary by state, you may have the right to a hearing.
And if you think you’ve been treated unfairly, lodge a complaint with
the insurance department. A rise in complaints can trigger an
examination of the company at the states’ insurance department. To find
the number go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Web
site at NAIC.org.
“The state insurance department handles hundreds of thousands
of complaints,” says Alessandro Iuppa, the President of NAIC.
2. Don’t panic
If your insurer refuses to renew your policy coverage, don’t
sweat it. The insurance industry is still rife with competition. If you
live in areas outside of Florida or Texas you’ll have a lot of options,
says Amy Bach, founder of the insurance information Web site,
unitedpolicyholders.org. Surf online at insure.com or NAIC.org to see
what else may be available.
Some insurance companies are competing for new customers, so
you have some leverage in negotiating discounts. If you don’t want to do
the legwork yourself, check out an independent insurance agent. You can
find get more information on the Independent Insurance Agents and
Brokers of America at iiaba.org.
3. Check your discounts
Some insurance companies offer a discount to people who insure
both their auto and home insurance that can be 10 to 15 percent. But you
may want to make sure those discounts still apply if your home
insurance is not renewed.
4. Use only as a last resort
With another hurricane season poised to wreak even more havoc,
this isn’t the time to skip insurance. More and more insurance companies
are going to be hedging their bets.
You’ll be seeing more state pools, called FAIR plans. These
plans – called Fair Access to Insurance Requirements – are operated by
the insurance industry for homeowners who can’t get insurance through
the commercial market. But these plans should be your last resort. The
premiums are higher, and the coverage is less generous.
5. Get your rights
While the law varies by state, if you have already sustained
damage and you have an open claim, an insurance company cannot just
cancel its policy. In Florida, your insurance company must wait 90 days
after repairs are completed to issue you a non-renewal letter.
If you do have an active claim, the insurance company is
legally obligated to adjudicate that claim, according to Iuppa, as long
as you have continued to pay premiums and have taken some steps to
repair the damage. If they don’t, the state has the authority to make
sure the situation is settled.