How Hoarding Can Affect Your Homeowner's Insurance

If you struggle with hoarding behavior, you could unintentionally be making your home a dangerous, unsanitary place to live. As if this wasn’t reason enough to get help, hoarding has another side effect you might not have considered: it could hinder your ability to qualify for or retain a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Why Hoarders are Riskier to Insure

In the eyes of an insurance company, hoarders are a higher risk than the general public. This creates greater liability, so the insurer may be unwilling to take on the risk of insuring your home. Here’s what an insurance company considers before covering a hoarder:

  • Piles of belongings in the hallways may completely block off access, making it difficult to escape in case of an emergency.
  • Stacks of paper and trash and the buildup of grease in the kitchen could create fire safety concerns.
  • Precarious stacks of belongings could topple on a friend or family member who could then file a liability claim against your policy.
  • Failing to throw away expired food or deal with inaccessible plumbing or roof leaks could lead to mold growth, which can damage possessions and even compromise structural integrity in extreme cases.
  • Pest infestations resulting from spoiled food in the house could make the space unsanitary and lead to holes in the cabinetry, stains on the carpet, and other property damage.
  • Attics filled with tons of newspapers, magazines, and books may grow so heavy that the ceiling sags or even collapses.

How Hoarding Affects a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

When you sign up for an insurance policy, there’s no “hoarder” designation on the application. All the insurance representative does is conduct a “drive-by” inspection of your home before approving or denying your request for insurance. Therefore, unless you have piles of belongings in the yard, you can probably obtain homeowner’s insurance without difficulty.

The challenge comes if you ever make a hoarding claim. Perhaps one of the above scenarios occurred as a result of your hoarding, and the insurance company sends an adjuster to substantiate your claim before you receive compensation. This presents three challenges:

  • Finding the damaged area may be difficult if simply walking between rooms is a challenge. This increases the likelihood that your claim will be denied.
  • The insurance adjuster may assert that the damage wasn’t fortuitous. In other words, the loss was inevitable due to the massive accumulation of belongings. This is another reason your claim might be denied.
  • The adjuster may notify your insurance agent that your home is in poor condition and that he or she recommends not renewing your policy. This could leave you without the coverage you need to protect your home and the possessions inside.

How a Hoarder can Become Insured Again in the Future

Depending on the severity of your hoarding habits, you may receive a warning from your insurance company to fix the situation or risk losing coverage. Even if your insurance policy is dropped, you should ask what it would take to restore your coverage. You will likely be required to correct fire hazards, liability issues, blocked exits, and maintenance concerns before you can sign up for an insurance policy again.

Get Help with Your Cleanup Efforts

Rather than waiting for your insurance company to act or for a dangerous problem to arise, take matters into your own hands! With professional help, you can tackle your hoarding behavior head-on. Then, Rainbow International® can handle the task of cleaning and deodorizing your home to restore it to a safe, sanitary condition.

To learn more or to schedule home cleanup services, please contact us today.

To help meet all of your home service needs, check out Neighborly. Once on the site, click on "Join the Community" to find providers to service all your home needs.