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Does home insurance offer premium forgiveness during the coronavirus outbreak?
Understand the ins and outs of delaying your home insurance payment.
Many major home insurance companies are working with customers facing financial strain due to lost income during the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies are even required to extend payment dates in states that are mandating longer home insurance grace periods.
We’ll update this page as new details emerge in the world’s response to COVID-19.
What's in this guide?
- How long are home insurance grace periods?
- How do I delay my home insurance premium?
- How are home insurance companies helping with payments?
- What should I do if I can't get a premium extension?
- Compare home insurance policies
- How else can the coronavirus affect home or renters insurance?
- Will my home insurance premium be affected by the coronavirus?
- What happens if I can't pay my insurance premiums?
- Should I cancel my home insurance?
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions about home insurance hardship
How long are home insurance grace periods?
The grace period may range from 10 to 30 days, depending on your state’s requirements and the insurance company. If you’re late on your home insurance payment, your insurer is usually required by the state to cover you for a certain time after your last payment due date.
Some states like California have extended insurance grace periods to at least 60 days in an effort to help customers during the current economic downturn.
How do I delay my home insurance premium?
Take advantage of benefits your insurer is offering during the coronavirus:
- Get in touch with your insurance company. You might get the fastest service through local agents or online services like chat or email. But if you have to call customer service, expect longer wait times than usual.
- Explain your financial situation. You might include details about when you expect to be able to pay or the payment amount you can currently handle.
- Ask about delayed or deferred payments. Your insurance company may extend your payment due date, waive late fees or postpone policy cancellations to ease any financial burdens.
- Put dates on the calendar. Write down or set reminders about an extension to avoid missing the new date.
How are home insurance companies helping with payments?
Most home insurance companies are encouraging customers to reach out if the coronavirus outbreak is limiting their finances. Companies have offered customers payment assistance, with a few companies taking bigger steps to relieve financial strain.
Checked as of July 10, 2020, individual companies are helping customers:
|Company||How are they helping?||How to make payments|
|Allstate||MyAccount login or mobile app|
Your local agent
For identity theft protection, sign up at Allstate identity protection
|American Family||The company acknowledges some customers need financial help. It encourages you to discuss payment options with a rep.||Call 1-800-692-6326|
Contact your local agency
|Assurance||No direct COVID-19 response on its website. Its customer service team wants to help with your policy from beginning to end, including modifying coverage when needed.||Call 844-334-1948|
|Geico||Geico is offering flexible and special payment plans to customers in need, including partial payments.||Geico app or geico.com account|
Check the customer service number on your policy
Otherwise, call 888-395-1200
|Kin||There’s no direct COVID-19 response on its website.|
But Kin leaves the door open for you to contact by phone from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.
|Lemonade||The company is helping customers and the community weather these hard times by:||For questions, contact customer service via the app|
|Liberty Mutual||This insurance giant is helping customers with flexible payment and overdue balance payback options:||Liberty Mutual app or online account|
|Progressive||The insurer says it’s committed to supporting its customers. Progessive encourages customers to contact support if still experiencing financial difficulty.||Chat through the Progressive app or online account|
|State Farm||State Farm is standing by to help those whose lives are disrupted by COVID-19. You can learn about payment options most efficiently from your local agent.||Your local agent|
|Farmers Insurance||This well-known home insurer is taking multiple steps to help customers, including:||You must call 888-327-6335 to extend payments further or pause cancellations|
|USAA||USAA is on a mission to care for its members during hard financial times. The company is providing special payment plans to those who need extra flexibility.||Mobile app or usaa.com account|
What should I do if I can’t get a premium extension?
You might not want to skimp on home coverage in case of an accident or property damage. Weigh your personal and financial situation carefully before requesting any changes to your policy.
- Review your optional coverage. Consider dropping or lowering your limits on optional coverage like equipment breakdowns or siding protection. If you bought home-sharing coverage for your home rentals, you could save by dropping it during any home-sharing market slumps.
- Put a dollar value on personal belongings. Think about the cost to replace your belongings like your furniture, computers, tools or appliances. This might be a good time to make an inventory of your personal belongings. A home inventory should include the item’s name, description, model number and any photos or receipts. Then, match your personal property limit to the value of your belongings, if possible.
- Look at new companies. You could shop around for another home insurance provider if you haven’t looked around in a while. But make sure you’re getting comparable or better coverage and service, so you don’t regret switching later.
- Consider a higher, affordable deductible. Though raising your home insurance deductible to save on premiums is a quick fix, it’s not the right option for everyone. Make sure paying a higher deductible wouldn’t leave you cash-strapped if you need to make a claim. For example, you might go from a $500 deductible to $1,000 until you have more room in your monthly budget, as long as you can afford the extra $500 come claim time.
Compare home insurance policies
How else can the coronavirus affect home or renters insurance?
You might see changes in your customer service wait times or in a few other specific situations:
- Waiting times. Customer service reps may be taking more phone calls to help customers who can’t make payments. So expect longer waits if you’re making updates to your policy by phone.
- Virtual claims and home inspections. Many companies are accepting virtual proof for home insurance claims or for starting a policy, using online document signing and more phone or email communication than before the pandemic. Your insurer may ask you to take photos, a video or use video-conferencing so that the inspector can see the condition of your property or belongings. In some cases, a home insurance adjuster or inspector may look at your home’s exterior in person without needing to meet with you.
- Liability risk. You could get pinned with spreading the coronavirus or with injury claims that happen on your property, like your neighbor or the delivery guy falling and hurting themselves on your property. Review your policy for any infectious disease exclusions that you should know about.
- Rental damage. You might have a higher chance of causing damage to your rental if you’re spending more time at home during the coronavirus. This is another reason to review your personal liability coverage.
Is my home office covered by homeowners insurance?
It depends on your policy. Some home insurance policies cover business property with low limits like $1,500. This may exclude equipment stored in a garage or shed.
However, other policies exclude coverage for home-based businesses. Whether you’re a business owner or employee, you may need an add-on for home-based businesses or a business owner’s policy if you don’t have coverage elsewhere. Talk through your new work situation with your insurance company.
If you work for an employer, any work-related injuries or property damage is likely covered under your employer’s business policy.
Will my home insurance premium be affected by the coronavirus?
The coronavirus might affect home insurance premiums because risk factors are fluctuating with people staying at home. For example, theft rates have gone down, but the likelihood of kitchen fires is higher. Also, home insurance companies may see a rise in insurance fraud with scams already on the rise with credit cards.
As an example, fraudulent home policy claims rose nearly 10% in Florida during the Great Recession, according to the state’s Division of Insurance Fraud. Specifically, companies saw rising theft and damage claims filed by homeowners several months before a foreclosure, suggesting that owners may have tried to get an insurance payout during financial hardship.
On the other hand, home insurance premiums rose about 60% from 2008 to 2017 anyway. So owners might have a difficult time parsing out whether premiums are rising from the coronavirus or natural industry increases.
What affects your premium the most?
Your home insurance premium may increase for a number of reasons, including:
- Location, including crime rate or the risk for harsh weather
- Home security, especially for fire or theft
- Building material
- Your home’s condition
- Coverage, including types of coverage, annual limits and deductibles
- Your credit score
- Number of claims
What happens if I can’t pay my insurance premiums?
Notify your insurance company right away if you expect to miss an insurance payment. Many companies are offering help with payments during the coronavirus outbreak. However, if you don’t contact your company, you can expect some repercussions to follow:
- Your insurance company will send a notice. Your home insurance company will notify you about your policy’s cancellation date, typically by mail. It’s required to give you ample time to see the notice and respond.
- You still have coverage until the cancelation date. The grace period ends on the date written in your cancelation notice, so you’ll have home insurance coverage until then.
- Your mortgage lender may place you with insurance. Your home loan agreement probably requires you to keep a certain amount of coverage on your home. If you don’t, your lender can match you with a force-placed policy to cover its investment. This policy tends to involve high premiums for less coverage than traditional home insurance.
- You could get denied coverage. Your insurance company has the right to deny coverage if it deems you too risky to insure. You may have to shop for a high-risk home insurance provider unless you can work out an agreement with your old one.
Should I cancel my home insurance?
Not if you have a home loan. Your mortgage lender likely requires home insurance in your contract. If you violate the terms of your contract, your lender can foreclose on your home.
However, some lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are working out special plans for mortgage payments or forbearance if you’re in financial distress. This option may not affect your home insurance requirement, but it can take some pressure off home-related expenses. Call your lender to see what financial relief options it offers during this time.
If you don’t have a home loan, you’re not required to keep home insurance. However, around 5% of homeowners file a claim every year, according to the Insurance Information Institute, and the average claim amount totals over $12,000. Unless you can pay out of pocket for catastrophic damage, it’s probably a good idea to keep your policy active.
If you’re concerned about missing a home insurance payment, insurance companies are offering due date extensions as their main line of support. That combined with other steps like reviewing your coverage can help you stay financially secure during the coronavirus.
Frequently asked questions about home insurance hardship
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