It seems as though insurance carriers are requiring more details about houses and are becoming more restrictive about which houses they will cover. The following issues are some of the ones we have run across.

Possible Household Insurance Issues

We are receiving an increasing number of calls from clients for assistance in completing their applications for homeowner insurance.


Barry M. says… “That report format is a masterpiece! I really appreciate the links, for anyone doing most of it themselves it is invaluable. Thanks again for the information and good human approach. We have decided to go ahead with the purchase, despite the drawbacks, but I would say we are definitely doing it with as full a knowledge as is possible to get.”

Electrical Fuse Panels:
Screw-in type fuses in the electrical distribution panels were in common usage until the mid 1950s. Fuses, although inherently safer than circuit breakers, allow the ill-informed occupant to replace a properly sized fuse with one which is too large. This can result in a circuit overload and a fire hazard.

Knob and Tube Distribution Wiring:
In common use until the early 1940s this is an ungrounded electrical distribution system identified by its separate hot and neutral conductors and the use of white porcelain mounting knobs and cylindrically shaped tubes to support the conductors and isolate them from the wood framing members. Although a relatively safe system (except for the absence of grounding), concerns center around improper modifications and mechanical damage subsequent to the original installation.

60 Amp Electrical Services:
Often present up until the early 1960s, it is not possible to positively identify without removal of the distribution panel cover. A smaller service capacity is not a safety issue so much as a convenience issue. The reason for denial of insurance coverage may be based on the notion that a 60 amp service indicates an older, and potentially less safe, system.

Galvanized Steel Water Distribution Lines:
Used until the late 1940s they are identified by their grey colour and threaded fittings. They are prone to deposit build-up resulting in restricted water flow and also to rusting. Leaks are common in aging systems of this kind.

Wood Burning Stoves and Fireplace Inserts:
Most insurance companies will want to see documentation that the installation has been inspected and passed by the authority having jurisdiction. If this was not obtained at the time of the original installation it can be difficult or impossible to get. The issue with these appliances is obviously the possibility of fire. Fireplace inserts are especially problematic. A related issue is the lack of a flue liner in a masonry chimney. Houses built prior to approximately 1940 are most likely to have unlined flues. These are hazardous for wood burning fireplaces.

Summary:
Different insurance companies have different requirements. These requirements can change and the best way to be sure what they are is to contact your company of choice just prior to purchase.

Glenn Hill, AHI