The relationship you have with your home or renters insurance company is fundamentally an exchange of responsibility and premium. In the simplest of terms, the premium you pay is reflective of what kind of customer (i.e., risk) you represent to your insurance company. This risk can be measured by a range of details such as who you are individually (marital status or age) as well as what you own. Because your homeowners or renters liability coverage can protect you in the event you are responsible for bodily injury or property damages, some of the items you own may give your insurance company cause for concern. So, what are some of the things your insurance company might consider uninsurable?
1. A pool!
An empty pool, that is. (We’re not here to ruin your summer.)
Even while you may view your filled pool as a go-to summer necessity, your insurance company views it as a danger (and a potential claim payout). Pools are also a huge source of unintentional drownings among adults and children across the U.S. According to the CDC, 10 people die from non-boating related drownings every day; of these 10, two are among under-14-year-olds. Despite this risk, most insurance company will still cover a filled pool if it’s fenced in for an additional premium.
However, drained pools are another story. Because a drained pool, fenced in or not, is essentially a giant hole in your backyard with a concrete bottom, insurance companies see them as huge risks. The likelihood of your insurance company being on the hook for a liability payout after someone injures themselves in your empty pool are considerably high, given its characteristics.
2. A trampoline
For kids, and hey, even adults, trampolines are a great way to burn off some energy, kill a couple of hours, and practice your bounce-flips (that’s gotta be a thing, right?). But to an insurance company, a trampoline looks like a claim waiting to happen. And while not always a no-go for home insurance companies, trampolines are a bit more hit or miss.
If you or someone on your insurance policy is dead-set on getting a trampoline, you should consult with insurance company to see if there are any specific rules regarding ownership policies. Some insurance companies will require you to get additional paddings over the springs or a netting that surrounds the trampoline. Others, however, see them as too big of risks and will either cancel your policy or issue a non-renewal notice.
We hate to spoil the fun, but we hate injuries (and insurance claim denials) even more.
3. A pet
Now, we’re using the word “pet” here in a pretty broad sense. This could mean owning a dog your insurance company classifies as “dangerous” (see how your dog affects your insurance) such as pitbull, or it could mean your pet tiger. Here’s a generalized list of what we will be referring to as a “pet” in many cases:
- Unusual amphibians
- Unusual reptiles
- Big game cats (lions and tigers and…see below)
- Wolves and wolf hybrids
- Primates and monkeys
- Dogs of the following breeds; pit bull-type breeds, German shepherds, boxers, huskies, doberman pinschers, rottweilers, cane corsos, chows, and great danes
Similar to owning a trampoline, there isn’t an across-the-board guaranteed answer to if your insurance company will cancel your policy because you own any of the above-mentioned pets. Some, however, will cancel your coverage because of what they see as a uninsurable risk. Others might charge you a higher premium or exclude any type of coverage specifically for the pet. In this sense, if your tiger mauls your next-door neighbor, your insurance company will provide zero coverage. (Pleeeease don’t be that person.)
4. A home-operated business
Owning a business isn’t an outright death sentence for your insurance policy, but running certain businesses out of your home can be. One of the most common businesses insurers have a problem with? Of all things, a daycare.
Because your liability coverage protects you if you are sued due to a guest injuring themselves at your residence, running an at-home daycare opens your insurance company to a myriad of potential risks and claims payouts – and with kids, the behavior is unpredictable. Namely, children falling and injuring themselves or parents of injured children filing a lawsuit are the risks insurance companies most want to avoid. Because of these additional risks, many insurance companies will flat-out deny you coverage for your home if they find out you’re using it for more.
What this all means for you?
The common theme with these above-mentioned items is the position it puts your insurance company in. Having a drained pool, a trampoline, a tiger, or a daycare (an especially alarming combo when you put ‘em all together) creates an environment in which the probability of your insurance company being on the hook for a claim is too high to insure.
Still, as each insurance company has its own underwriting department and thus its own way of handling these cases, owning these items is not a guaranteed dismissal. Here are a few scenarios you might expect:
- You maintain insurance contract after you make some changes in your home. Some companies will ask you to make adjustments within your home to comply with their requirements. This could mean filling in the pool, putting a net around your trampoline, or excluding your pet from any liability coverage. Usually, they will give you a future cancellation date in order for you to make the necessary changes.
- The insurance company issues you a non-renewal notice. In this case, you have until the end of your policy period to find a new insurance company. It won’t be these guys.
- The insurance company cancels your policy (effective immediately). They might give you a few days to find a new one, but insurance companies can terminate your policy pretty much right away – regardless of whether or not you are able to make any changes. If you’ve paid any premium in advance, you should be issued a prorated refund for the remainder of the policy contract.
It’s important to consider the relationship among you, your property, and your insurance company. Insurers assume a portion of responsibility for your actions through your liability coverage, which gives them some right to assert the things they will and will not cover. Having an empty pool, a trampoline, a presumed dangerous pet, or a home-operated business can be considered too risky for your insurance company.
Despite this, you should always be honest with your insurance company in regards to your belongings as each company has its own operating rules. And some may even let you list some of these “risky” items specially on your policy. Keep it honest, and you’ll be in the best shape.