Business Management

Property Insurance: Why Coverage Gets Dropped & How to Handle It

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Personal Development, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary
210 Articles Written

Property insurance is perhaps one of the most confounding aspects of the real estate business. It is something that investors will want or be required to purchase. But how it is calculated, the amount you need to purchase and the setting of rates can be quite mysterious. Plus, insurance companies seem to be able to make up the rules as they go along. They can raise your rates, change what is covered or just outright drop your coverage at almost any time.

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Having been a real estate investor for about a dozen years now, I have been through several insurance companies. I have had rates raised, conditions imposed, and I have been dropped several times — once just a few weeks after I closed on a property. Being dropped and losing coverage may be disconcerting, but it is not the end of the world and definitely not the end of your business. By being dropped you might actually come out ahead.

What Does it Mean to Be Dropped?

Being dropped simply means the insurance company has decided not to renew or to discontinue your insurance coverage. Dropping is usually done when your insurance policy comes up for annual renewal, but it is possible to be dropped at any time.

As I said above, I was dropped only a couple of weeks after I closed on a duplex. The company said that they just did not want to insure that type of property. Of course I was left wondering why they let me get that far in the first place, but as I said, insurance is one of the most confounding aspects of this business.

Why Do Insurance Companies Drop Coverages?

Some individuals are dropped because they have made a large claim or too many small claims. (Always remember that every claim is a strike against you in the insurance business. Thus, I do not make claims unless it is absolutely necessary.) Other individuals may have acquired too many properties or have gone into too much debt and no longer fit into the insurance company’s risk model. So while you are growing and expanding your business, you may cross some sort of risk threshold with a particular company. Or the company may have simply adjusted their threshold and drop you. The actual reasoning can be hard to discern.

Being dropped could also be the result of being a part of a particular class or group. Insurance companies may just want to get out of a particular market. It may be the Gulf Coast after a Katrina, or it could simply be the Memphis rental housing market. Regardless, the reasoning behind any drop like this comes down to one thing: the insurance company is losing money and is pulling out. Does it matter if you have been a loyal customer for years? Nope, not at all.

What Happens When You Are Dropped?

Most insurance companies will not just drop your coverage without telling you. You will usually receive a letter telling you that your coverage has been dropped or will not be renewed. Furthermore, they will tell you in that letter the exact date and time your coverage will end. Most of the time, insurance companies will give you a few weeks to find new coverage, but they may not. Read any letter you get from your insurance company very, very carefully.

What Should You Do?

First of all, do not panic. There are plenty of companies out there; one of them will likely give you new insurance. This is because for every company that might be getting out of a particular market, there is usually another one getting in. You will find insurance to replace the coverage you lost. That does not mean, however, that you should sit around and wait until the last minute.

Related: 10 Great Property Insurance Tips for Landlords to Save You Cash, Headaches, and Time

Once you receive your drop letter, it is like you have a slowly ticking time bomb. Your coverage will lapse if you do not do something about it, and your lenders, if you have any, are going to be pretty upset about that. You may have to work at it a bit, especially if you have made a few claims, but do not worry about finding coverage; someone will likely cover you.

What Are Your Options?

Your options will depend on a lot of factors. These factors can include: the types of properties you are trying to insure, the number of properties you are trying to insure, their location, your background and credit history, along with the number of claims you have had.

As stated above, do not wait around. You should start looking and shopping around for new insurance almost immediately. And I do mean shop around. See this as an opportunity to meet a new insurance team member who can potentially increase your coverage while decreasing your costs. Yes, you might have been paying too much, and you may actually increase your cash flow.

Where should you look? If you are new to real estate investing or just have a small amount of properties, some of the household names may be the best place for you. State Farm, Nationwide, Allstate, Farmer’s, etc., all have programs for rental properties, and for the smaller business, their rates can be quite competitive.

For those of you who are like me and have larger portfolios, you can skip those named above. They will not even look at you, or their coverage will be outrageously expensive. Your best bet is to talk to several different insurance brokers and let them shop around amongst the many companies out there. Just do shop around. I have received quotes that have varied by several thousands of dollars for very similar types of coverage.

Related: Outside the Box: Looking at Property Insurance from a Different Perspective


Insurance is one of those things that I think I will never fully understand. That being the case, I have explained my thoughts on insurance here. But receiving the drop letter for the first time (or even the tenth time) can be quite scary. Unfortunately getting dropped happens quite often as you progress in the real estate business. It is often just a part of the business that we all need to learn to deal with.

Have you ever lost insurance coverage? Why? How did you deal with the situation?

Please share with your comments.

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in ...
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    George Alves Jr Insurance Agent from Carlsbad, California
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I would recommend interviewing an Insurance advisor to join your team! He or she can help you clearly understand how the particular policy is that is needed for a given property will protection not just on the dwelling and contents, but even more importantly your liability exposure. Insurance carriers do not randomly raise rates or cancel coverage. Rates are filed with the DOI for the state. Cancellations can occur when the type of policy that is in force is not the appropriate type of policy, this is just one of many areas where a licensed insurance advisor will benefit you and your organization. I am a licensed Insurance expert here in California, and have been licensed for Property Casualty, Business & Life Insurance since 2004.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    George, Thanks for reading and for the advice. Kevin
    Mike Palmer from Utah
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Disclosure: licensed independent insurance agent in several states. Good points. George’s comment above is also accurate and insightful. I would advise working with an independent agent/broker that is specifically knowledgeable with rental properties (it wouldn’t hurt if they own rentals themselves). They will know the different policy types, coverages, limits/exclusions, etc. and they will shop around for you to save you time and money. As George mentioned there are several variables at play. Some policies include loss of rents/income coverage, while others do not. Some policies do not cover certain issues while the home is vacant. Then there is liability coverage. There are a lot of things to be aware of, and working with a knowledgeable agent or broker is the best way to get the protection you need. Not all policies are created equal (even if they have the same coverage amounts/limits)! The worst thing you can do is buy a policy that does not meet your needs or cover your particular risk/situation. You would be throwing money away. We have a local investor that bought a flip last year. The house caught on fire during the remodel. They had the right policy with the right coverage and it was money well spent! I know another investor that went with a generic policy and had a $60k claim that was denied. They had the wrong policy for their needs. You can also be overinsured or have coverages you don’t need. I would recommend an annual review with your insurance professional to insure (check out that pun) you are properly protected at the best price possible.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Mike, Good advice. We sit down with our broker at least once a year. Things in the insurance industry can change drastically over the course of a year. A review is a wise descision. Thanks for reading, Kevin
    Alex Craig Real Estate Professional from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Kevin — I have seen many investors make 1 claim and get dropped. Or make 1 claim and get a huge increase. This can be detrimental if you have a a portfolio of homes and they raise rates across the board. I would suggest getting with a property management company that aggregates all their business with 1 carrier. We do this within our management company and it allows for us and our investors to get the best rates. Individuals within these types of policies are not underwritten like another insurance company may do. In other words, if you had made several claims in the past, a insurance company like I speak of will not care, nor will they even know. If you have to make a claim, they will not drop you or individually raise your rate. Now if there are several claims within the master policy, then a across the board increase will happen upon renewal. This is pretty typical with insurance companies to raise rates every year regardless if a claim is made or not. Last year, we saw a 4% increase for the year, which is much less then I was receiving when I was with Farmers Insurance. I received a 27% increase one year with them and I did not even make a claim.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Alex, Thanks for the advice. Kevin