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Homeowners insurance

Posted by olddaddy (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 18, 05 at 18:56

We are looking for homeowners insurance and wondered what other people with older homes have? Our current insurer has stopped writing insurance in Florida after last years hurricanes. I was surprised to learn that the biggest hurdle we are now facing is not hurricane related, but the age of our home. Built in 1936 our home is automatically refused coverage by every company we have contacted to date. This in spite of the entire home being newly remodelled, everything is new, wiring, plumbing, ac/heat, roof, windows, insulation etc. etc. We are at a loss as to where to turn, any advice greatly appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Homeowners insurance

This is a problem everywhere. Some insurers just won't insure an older home (built pre-1950). We have the added challenge of knob and tube wiring. The two we found who would write our policy are Farmers and Safeco. Don't know if either of those are in Florida. Good luck, I feel your pain.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Our hundred+ year old home is insured by American Family.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

our home was built in 1850 and is insured by state farm. We didn't have any problem insuring it. Most of the houses in the city are built on or before 1935.
-renee


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Do a search of this forum on the word insurance. There are several related threads.

You will probably just have to keep shopping around. Have you asked your neighbours who insures them? Has your old company just completely dropped you or have they given any references for you to seek? Will they share your good record with other companies?

Try any insurance connections you might have: car, health, business, clubs, etc. Many insurers will not take on a completely new customer but if you can convince them that they already have some established connection to you, they may take you on.

You may also have to agree to accept "new" construction rather than full replacements of old craftsmanship, should damage occur.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Travelers was the first company I found that would insure mine. (It's a designated historic landmark) Nationwide and State farm wrote policies, but immediately cancelled them.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Hastings Mutual is who ours is through (local independent agent). Mostly older homes in our town, too.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

USAA is our insurer. The only stipulation we have is that we can not be part of a house tour unless the underwriters review our policy. They are more concerned about safety of tour goers and possible liability issues than theft issues.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

State Farm insures our 116-year old house.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

(sorry to hijack the thread)

jtjgvle, is your house a national, state, or locally designated landmark? Just curious. That's VERY cool.
Gina


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RE: Homeowners insurance

I previously used USAA and my current carrier is Liberty Mutual. Neither objected to insuring my 80 year old home.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Be careful of Liberty Mutual. My policy with them was 37 years old when they cancelled me for having two small theft claims within 3 years. Their total outlay for these claims was $1200.

I now carry a high deductible. I don't want to go through the "assigned risk pool" again. I'd rather be out a few hundred dollars.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

USAA offered to insure our home, but their rates were prohibitive.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Our 1840 house and farm buildings are insured by Travelers. When we had substantial tornado damage a while back they were really super and paid our hefty claim promptly and cheerfully. We have a special rider that provides full replacement costs of the historic components (slate roof, 3-coat plaster walls, wood floors, etc.) We have a very high (5K) deductible as we buy insurance for catastrophes, not run of the mill problems. If you have a mortgage, what does your lender suggest?

Molly~


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RE: Homeowners insurance

thecobbler - I'm not clear why you filed two claims for $1200. While I don't agree with Liberty Mutual's decision to drop you, I wouldn't file claims for that little under the assumption that I'd just be begging for trouble, especially within a 3 year period. However, as I carry a $1000 deductible, I guess I won't be in that boat.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

We are also with travlers.. (through Geico)... not been a problem at all that our house is closing in on her 100 year old birthday.. we have a mid range deducatable ( $2500) since anything under that we can easily pay outof pocket.. now in saying that we have had a car wreck in our yard, a tree fall on our house due to storm damage and we got clocked to the tune of $1k when we got robbed while we are at church!.. Now even if our deductable had been lower we would not have submitted any of those claims since ..well... guess I have no need to push my luck!

Maddiemom


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RE: Homeowners insurance

We are very lucky in that we have a long-term relationship with our agent and I expect it has made it much easier.

I asked him if there would be any change in our policy if we had historic status and he said no, so long as we are not open to the public. However, I expect if we had historic status and then sought out some new coverage, we might have added problems. It doesn't make much sense, the house is what it is regardless of the Register.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

I have never heard of discrimination in insurance covergage due a house being listed in the National Register of Historic Places or in a National Register Historic District. One of our houses is in the largest NR district in the country, over 2,500 houses. Everyone has insurance there I assume. I've never had an agent even ask.

I think age of a property, not its historical significance, is all most insurors care about.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

My house is 66 years old -- I didn't have any problem at all getting insurance w/USAA (a membership that is one of the greatest bennies from my having spent 4 years in the Navy).


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RE: Homeowners insurance

When our daughter recently bought her old house, the insurance company was willing to insure a quality historic home. However, she was told that if her house had been registered they would not have insured because of the costs and problems restoring historical features to the satisfaction of the registering agreements.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

we didnt have any problem,we too restored completely,new elecnew plumb,They sent an assessor out he went through the whole house.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

However, she was told that if her house had been registered they would not have insured because of the costs and problems restoring historical features to the satisfaction of the registering agreements.

This then would be due to listing in a local historic zoning district, not the National Register of Historic Places or a National Register historic district, as National Register designation does not place any such restrictions on a private property owner. Local historic district, by contrast, does control exterior appearance.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

We're with Grange. Our agent asked questions, I knew I was in trouble...lol...fuse box, furnace over 50 yrs. old...that sort of questions. They drew up a policy with the understanding that the wiring and furnace would be replaced within 90 days. It was, so our insurance wasn't a problem. I'm also in a very small town (pop.7600), with many, many old homes.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Yeah, terry, come to think of it, I had to update my electricity to 200-amp service as well after the insurance company underwriter came by.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Ya know, that's the funny thing....we got this really official looking letter telling us that someone from Grange would be by to check out the work done. I figured to make sure the work was done...lol...and NO ONE ever came by! Not a soul...


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RE: Homeowners insurance

I just had to let my agent know the work had been completed.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

"Be careful of Liberty Mutual. My policy with them was 37 years old when they cancelled me for having two small theft claims within 3 years. Their total outlay for these claims was $1200"

We also have an older home - 1870 - and were also dropped in a nasty way by Liberty Mutual. Tried to work something out with them but they were unreasonable. It gave me headaches for a long time, trying to figure out how to make them happy.

COuldn't believe the ease with which we got a new policy with Allstate. Went with a local agent and they were very pleasant and easy to work with. No hassles whatsoever, and at about the same price we were paying with Liberty Mutual, whom I would never ever recommend.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

I let the agent know also...that's when we got the official letter. Still baffled by it!


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RE: Homeowners insurance

We have farm insurance. Someone from our insurer comes by every 3 years and checks the fire extinguishers. He gets them refilled if they need it. He also has checked the barn wiring and made suggestions for improving it, from a safety perspective. I guess that the insurance company sees our policy as an investment that they want to protect. I figure it is in both our interests that they don't have to pay up.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

CSAA (AAA) insures my 1940 home.

However it's my understanding, from rate shopping, that the cedar shake wood roof keeps my rates several hundred$ more per year than if it were an A-rated asphalt composition shingle roof. Some companies refuse to insure a home with a wood roof.

Electrically speaking, they didn't care at all about the residual K&T wiring in older parts of the home. They did insist that the home be on a circuit breaker, which it is (when I was in the process of buying the property, I wasn't sure if it was a fuse box or a breaker box by the meter).

Another interesting tidbit is that at one point after purchase the insurance company sent out an inspector and he made a big deal out of the lack of bolts/cripple wall reinforcement on the foundation. So I spent a month retrofitting the foundation (permitted and approved). Then I proudly called the insurance company, and told them the home was now with a seismic foundation retrofit... and they said they didn't care about that unless I opted for extra earthquake insurance.

Well I guess the roof may burn away but the sill plates will still be bolted firmly to the foundation when the Big One hits :-)


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Our 1870 house is insured by Travelers. When shopping for insurance, I found that few companies would insure houses over 100 years for full replacement cost, i.e wood wainscotting, wood floors, and other unique historic features.

Last year I called my agent to update our policy to include our new custom kitchen and all the other renovations we have done over the past 9 years. I was surprised to discover that even though we had been insured for replacement value, that unless they review in detail with you the special historic features of your home, there is no record, hence you may have a difficult time making a claim if your house goes up in smoke. After an hour on the phone with our agent asking detailed questions about wood floors, wood wainscotting, built-in cabinetry and shelves, custom kitchen cabinetry, handmade tiles, and numerous other items, she finally said she'd need to send someone out to see our house. This person came out and confirmed that our house had what we said it did, and Travelers revised our policy. Needless to say, our policy now costs a couple hundred dollars more each year... However, I had followed our next door neighbor's problems with Travelers after their newly restored 100+ home (oozing with unique details) burned down. Apparently they had a long fight over how much to pay out due to unique features that would be costly to replace, which had not been documented.

I find the whole thing equally exasperating as trying to find affordable health insurance. I guess it's similar... trying to find insurance for an old, gently worn lady. But my girl is as tough as those new spring McMansions... she can kick their drywall a$$es!

Tina


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RE: Homeowners insurance

The only insurance issue we've had is with our windows. All the windows in the house are huge, and were leaded glass, and stained glass. The insurance company wanted an exclusion on them.

Just recently we switched our insurance BACK to USAA. We've been with USAA since 1965, and we had used them exclusively until we purchased this old house 4 yrs ago. We decided to try a local independent agent, and got a good rate that USAA couldn't come close to. Well, just a couple months ago, USAA called us and offered us an unbelievable rate. My DH took their quote to our local agent, and he said it was a great policy, and he couldn't come close to the premium. We saved $400 per year by switching. I would recommend anyone who is a USAA member to get a current quote. They apparently have new rates that are extremely competitive.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

In Florida also , we have a "lake house" built in 1946 and also had a hard time getting insurance. We were able to get through the Florida Pool but for $1600 a year for this little cabin. They wanted some electrical work updated and were cranky on silly things...like how good was the AC unit and was it a permanent install.. Things that seemed silly to us but we got it through. The folks before us had the government coverage.
We wanted to play with some renovations but needed the insurance intact first since we have an umbrella policy and that requires all to be insured that you own. It took a month of nonsense. We are in the Cyrstal River area/Sprill Hill and I know in that area, who can get it done if that will be of help to you.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

In our state, insurance companies tried to deny insurance on houses with fuses instead of circuit breakers. Our Attorney General put a stop to it and now fuse boxes are not a barrier to obtaining insurance here.

I did some research and found that only 3% of the home fires in my state were caused by electrical failures of all kind. I queried the State Fire Marshall's office as to how many were due to use of fuse boxes as opposed to CB boxes. The FM doesn't differentiate between the two which leads me to believe it's not a significant number.

My feeling is that insurance companies are looking for ways to avoid insuring old houses and the fuse box excuse is a convenient way for them to do that.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Our electrician said that in fact fuse boxes are a more sturdy option than circuit breakers. Circuit breakers fail to do their job more often than fuses. The only real danger with fuses is people putting coins in to bypass them or using the wrong size fuse. He wouldn't replace a fuse box just for the sake of modernizing.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

That is interesting Joyce. I am going to call USAA. I had a quote for about $3500 from them. I thought it was high, but it is a big house that we bought to work on. they did send an appraiser out that took all kinds of notes and documented everything - chandeliers, fireplace mantel types, tile type, etc for every room. After they received the appraisers report they changed my premium to $5200. good grief. That combined with the taxes and that we got a good deal and could probably sell for a bunch more with a bit more work than we have already done has us seriously consider selling our dream house. I think my deductible is $2500 and the next jump from there was 10k. I didnt' feel comfortable going to the 10k deductible.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

We have knob and tube in our home which is a huge red flag for most insurance companies. The standard question used to be the amp service and fuses/circut breakers question, but now they ask directly if your home has knob and tube. Ours does, but we are planning on updating it ($$!). Plus, the agent drove by the home and saw that is was in good shape, so our insurance option were Preferred Mutual or Hanover Insurance.


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RE: Homeowners insurance

Insurance on our 1879 house is with Central Insurance. Their coverage is good, and they didn't ask half of the questions noted by other posters, and didn't need to come out. It's also inexpensive compared to some others we checked.

Most houses in our town (half Ohio, half Indiana; only about 200-250 people on the Ohio side and maybe 1000 on the Indiana side) were built before 1950; at least half were built before 1930, I believe.

I also have auto with them and they have been fantastic with the two claims (windshield and stolen stereo/broken dash) I have had.

:-) Mel


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