Homeowners Insurance: Pricing and Underwriting

Last updated: February 1, 2016

What Affects the Price of My Insurance Coverage?

Personal Factors

Type of Construction:

Different construction methods, materials, and designs have different risks.

  • The premium for frame houses is usually more than for brick houses.

  • The premium for houses with wood shingles is usually more than for houses with composition shingles.

Local Fire Protection:

Because fire and smoke damage cause millions of dollars in losses annually, insurance companies take into account a community’s firefighting capability when determining premiums. Factors include:

  • Water supply

  • Building codes

  • Your fire department’s equipment and the quality of your fire department:

    • Your address is assigned a fire-protection class rating, ranging from 1 to 10 (1 being the most protection).

    • Most Kansas addresses fall into fire protection classes ranging from 3 to 10 (see “Fire Class Protection” for more information).

Amount of Coverage:

The amount of coverage you buy for your house, contents, and personal liability all affect the price you pay.

Deductible amount:

A deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket for each covered claim.

  • Choosing a higher deductible will reduce your premium.

  • Most homeowners policies have a separate wind/hail deductible that is generally 1% or 2% of the amount of insurance carried on the structure.

  • The deductible for all other perils is usually a dollar limit.

Age of the House:

Some insurance companies may offer new-home discounts.

  • Some companies may not offer insurance or only offer limited coverage on very old homes.

Discounts:

By qualifying for certain discounts, you may be able to lower your premium.

  • Not all insurance companies offer the same discounts. Ask your insurance company or agent what discounts are offered. Possible discounts include:

  • Being a senior citizen

  • Having multiple types of insurance with the same company

  • Having a home security system, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or a fire-retardant roof

  • Having deadbolt locks or a burglar alarm

Company factors

Loss experience:

Premiums charged by insurance companies in Kansas vary by company.

  • An insurance company may adjust its premiums in accordance with its own loss experience.

  • Insurance companies may also adjust their premiums to reflect loss experience in a specific region within a state.

  • Adjustments may be made for losses in an entire area that result from other factors, including weather conditions and crime losses, etc.

    • This method, called territorial rating, is intended to encourage price stability and competition.

Comparison Shop:

Often the only way to know if your insurance company is fairly pricing your premiums is to comparison shop.

  • You should consider getting quotes from at least three companies.

  • If you are shopping with an independent insurance agent/agency, make sure you find out which company the agent is representing.

    • Independent agents can represent many insurance companies.

    • Doing this means you won’t inadvertently get quotes from the same company twice.

Shop carefully to get the best value for your dollar.

Underwriting Guidelines

Underwriting guidelines are the standards and rules insurance companies use to decide whether to offer or renew insurance coverage.

  • An insurance company may decline your application or renewal for coverage if you or your property does not meet the company’s underwriting guidelines. Each company has its own underwriting guidelines, but typically might include the following:

  • The condition of your home

  • A leaky or poorly maintained roof

  • Poor property upkeep and maintenance (i.e. painting, old wiring and plumbing)

  • The amount of insurance required on the structure

  • Number of claims during the past 7 to 10 years

  • Your personal credit history, in compliance with federal guidelines

Also, when your homeowners policy is up for renewal, the company may re-underwrite your property for the next policy term.

  • Generally, insurance companies are under not obligated by law to renew your homeowners or renters coverage.

This article is published on KansasMoney.gov. Find more information by contacting these state agencies: