Is it legal for the insurance company that carries my homeowner’s policy to refuse to renewit because I put in a claim while still under coverage?

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Is it legal for the insurance company that carries my homeowner’s policy to refuse to renewit because I put in a claim while still under coverage?

I submitted a claim for roofing repair and they sent a claims adjuster out to look at it. They have not yet said if they are going to fix it or not. But I received a letter today saying they will not renew my homeowner’s insurance which will lapse tomorrow. Is this a legal action? The roofing damage is just natural cause – wear and tear. No accidents or anything.

Asked on March 14, 2011 under Insurance Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It's perfectly legal, unfortunately. Insurers are not required to issue or renew policies--it's up to the insurer. They make the choice, for pretty much any reason, to not renew a policy. Selling and writing insurance is voluntary. However, they do at least need to comply with any terms in the policy concerning nonrenewal. So, for example, if in your policy it said that the insurer could not renew with 60 days notice, then they had to provide 60 days notice--and a failure to do so might force them to renew, at least for one more year. So the thing to do is look at your policy.

BTW, insurance does NOT normally pay for damage due to wear and tear. Insurance is not a warranty; it pays for loss due to accidents or delibarate acts (e.g. fire; a tree falling on the roof; a contractor somehow damaging the roof). In essence, unless you have a very unusual and liberal policy, you submitted an improper claim--you claimed for a loss  you can't claim for. That is probably why they canceled and possibly may allow cancelation or nonrenewal without notice--again, check policy terms.


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