East TN woman has a warning about homeowners insurance

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — You pay for homeowners insurance to protect yourself if something happens to your property, however, there are times when you should not file a home insurance claim.

An East Tennessee grandmother, Elisabeth Gimblett, just learned that the hard way. Her homeowner’s insurance was canceled because of too many claims.

Multiple home insurance claims within a three to five-year period make you look riskier from your insurer’s vantage point. Filing claims on any sort of regular basis will likely provoke a negative reaction from your insurer, it doesn’t matter what insurer you have. If you file multiple claims, you may be at risk of having your policy not renewed when your policy is up for renewal.

The roof to Gimblett’s home has been repaired three times in the last 10 years. She says twice the roof was partially replaced because it leaked from wind and hail damage. Then two years ago, the whole roof was fixed.

“There was roof damage here in the back part, roof damage up at the front and some on the other side that I wasn’t even aware of,” said Gimblett.

From her insurer she received this notice last fall, “We’re sorry, your policy will not be renewed.”

“I was flabbergasted I thought how can you just cancel my insurance when I’ve been with you 19 years, I paid my premium all these years, you get no warning,” said Gimblett.

According to a letter from her insurance agent, in April of 2010, there was an $8500 claim. In November of 2016 a $7300 claim, and then a big one in October of 2020, a $14,700 claim. The third claim was to re-roof the entire house.

Industry experts tell WATE insurers take a look at your claims history when setting your rates. The more home insurance claims in your history, the more expensive your home insurance premiums will likely be. That’s because insurers correlate claims to a higher risk of filing more claims in the future. Risky customers get higher premiums.

The greater the number of claims filed, especially in a very short amount of time— within five years the insurance company may not renew your policy. So, if you can, it may be better, in the long run, to pay for small repairs yourself rather than filing an insurance claim.

Gimblett has found a new company to insure her home. With years of memories inside her place, she couldn’t risk going uninsured. However, the cost of her new homeowner’s insurance policy has increased by nearly $1,000 a year. She now has a warning to other homeowners who have multiple claims in a short period of time.

“I think they better check to see if they are still going to have their insurance. And not be canceled.”

Experts tell us there are also situations when you do want to file a homeowners insurance claim. That would be if the cost to repair the damage to your home is well above your deductible, then you should consider filing a claim. Also, if you haven’t filed a claim in the last few years and the damage to your home is significant, then filing a claim maybe your best option.