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Buying a Home That Has Had a Prior Insurance Claim

One in five homeowners file a home insurance claim each year. Not all these claims involve damage to the home, but many do, and the damage can be extensive sometimes. 

Will buying a home that has had a previous home insurance claim affect your rates?

A previous claim filed by a prior homeowner should not affect your premiums. However, depending on the type of damage the home suffered, you may want to take extra safety steps or even consider purchasing a different home instead.

Most of the ways a home might become damaged fit into the category of minor mishaps. For example, maybe you bump into the wall while moving a table leaving a table-shaped dent in the drywall. This situation does not require a home insurance claim. Instead, you can probably solve the problem in an hour of your spare time on a Saturday with a small repair. 

Some types of damage can be severe, however, often requiring professional repair and specialized equipment. As an example, water damage from a burst pipe can leave moisture in places missed by homeowners. A proper fix likely involves a professional contractor. Specialized drying equipment can fully remove moisture from the hidden nooks and crannies of your home.

If your home has had a prior claim, the primary concern for you as the new homeowner is whether the previous homeowner had the damage repaired properly. Clues showing hidden damage can be difficult to find for the average homeowner. Consider hiring a home inspector to perform a full evaluation of your home’s condition. In some situations, it may make sense to hire an inspector who specializes in certain types of damage. For example, some home inspectors specialize in mold damage. Others might focus on foundation or structural concerns.

Many home insurance claims find their way into insurance databases, so it's possible that your agent or broker may ask you about prior claims for your home. However, if you were not the owner of the home at the time of the claim, the claim is not yours and should not affect your home insurance rates.

While prior claims should have no effect on your home insurance premiums, previous damage suggests it may be wise to take a closer look. After the house keys change hands at closing, any issues with the home now become yours to remedy. A professional home inspection can help you make a more educated buying decision and avoid costly repairs later.