Home insurance providers generally play their cards close to the vest when it comes to the exact formulas that they use to determine risk. Every insurer uses a different formula, so there's no way to write a complete and accurate list of what constitutes high-risk in the insurance world. But, some of these factors are publicly-known, and are universal between all major insurers.
Here are some high-rick home insurance factors.
- Bankruptcy and Poor Credit. In this instance, it's not the home that's high-risk. It’s the homeowner that presents a risk issue. If you have bad credit or if you've filed for bankruptcy, then your insurer has reasonable cause to suspect that you might not be the most responsible homeowner. In some instances, this assumption may be unfair. We've all been dealt a hand of bad luck now and then. Even so, insurance companies need to crunch the numbers and evaluate risk as best they can from an objective standpoint.
- Vacation Homes. The problem with a vacation home is simple: If something goes wrong, it might be months or even years before anyone finds out about it. A burglary, for instance, might not be reported until it's ancient history. Homes that are vacant for a significant portion of the year tend to be regarded as higher risk, simply because there's nobody keeping watch.
- Home Business. If you run a home business, you're going to be better off protecting that business on a separate policy, rather than relying on your home insurance policy to cover it. A home business can bump your rates. It can even lead to you being turned down for coverage if not handled properly.
- Your Zip Code. High-crime neighborhoods are the very definition of high-risk. The same goes for neighborhoods in danger-zones for natural disaster. Talk to your neighbors and see if they've had similar experiences as yourself when buying insurance.
- Criminal Convictions. If you've made some mistakes in your past, you may find that your home insurance provider deems you a higher risk than someone with a clean record.
Sorting out your status as a high-risk customer for home insurance can be tricky. You might be able to improve your credit or rent out your vacation home when you're not there. But, if your house is in a high-risk neighborhood and you're not ready to sell it, your options may be limited. Talk with your insurer and see what your options are.