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SF house, enterprise homeowners elevate considerations over insurance coverage cancellations – NBC Bay Space

There’s a new and growing problem for both residents and business owners in San Francisco.

Insurance companies are increasingly cancelling or refusing to renew their home and business insurance policies with almost no explanation.

In March, San Francisco Homeowner Jeremy Solterbeck got a notice from his insurance company Safeco, which said in part: “After careful consideration, we have concluded that we will not be able to renew your homeowners insurance policy.”

He told NBC Bay Area that he was stunned when he got a grainy drone image of his roof as part of the explanation.

“They’re trying to show that the presence of dirt indicates that water has pooled and dried out,” Solterbeck said.

According to Bay Area insurance broker Jerry Becerra, insurance companies have not only stopped writing new policies, but they also stopped renewing some policies and he’s had trouble finding new companies to cover his clients.

“I think the hardest thing, particularly for older homes, is meeting underwriting requirements. So, if you have knob and tube wiring or deferred maintenance on your property, that can make the placement very difficult or expensive,” he said.

Becerra added that there’s a number of reasons why companies are pulling back in California and the Bay Area in particular:

  • Because homes here are more expensive here – they’re also pricier to replace in the event of a fire or other disaster.
  • California insurance market is highly regulated. Insurance companies say they haven’t been able to hike rates to keep pace with rising costs.
  • There are the rising costs of natural disasters, both in the Bay Area and around the world.

Following a series of wildfires a few years ago in California, several insurance companies stopped writing policies in those high risk areas. Becerra said an earthquake in Taiwan and what seems to be more frequent hurricanes in Florida and the Gulf Coast are also part of equation.

“As the re-insurance market changes and there’s disasters around the world, that all trickles down to local insurance because that’s a fixed cost for insurance companies to bear,” he said.

If you do happen to get a notice of cancellation, insurance brokers said that you should react quickly. Companies are required to give you at least a couple months’ notice for a policy ends.

Broker Steve Creschi said if you can get a new policy, it’s likely going to cost you thousands of dollars more.

“Sometimes, we’ve had to go to what’s called ‘eccess market’ or not admitted companies to find somebody insurance, because um, these companies are actually allowed to write business, But they’re not regulated by the department of insurance, so they set their own rates,” he said.

He added that homeowners can also dispute the reason for cancellation or fix the problems the insurer lists on their property.

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