Mobile Home Insurance Guide and Coverage Options
Many people are under the impression that home insurance covers any type of home. It isn't until they go to buy home insurance for their mobile home that they find out they aren't eligible for a standard homeowner's policy. Luckily, there is a specialized policy that covers all of the features and needs unique to mobile and manufactured homes. These policies even offer certain coverages designed just for mobile homes that aren't available to other types of property owners.
What is Mobile Home Insurance?
Although your insurance company may call it a mobile home policy, these policies cover any factory built home, including modular homes. You'll find that a mobile home policy has many of the standard property coverages that you're familiar with, such as dwelling coverage, liability, and medical payments. However, since mobile homes present a unique set of risk and rating factors, there are a few policy details that separate mobile home policies from homeowner's insurance.
Insurance companies generally see mobile homes as being a greater risk to insure. The primary reason for this is because mobile homes are unlike a standard home in that they often lack a permanent foundation. Furthermore, when a mobile home doesn't have a permanent tie-down or ground anchor, its susceptibility to wind damage is tremendous. Since the amount of wind damage that can potentially occur to a mobile home is far greater than what typically occurs to traditional houses, mobile home insurance tends to be somewhat higher.
Mobile Home Insurance Versus Standard Homeowner's Policies
As far as included coverage is concerned, mobile home and regular homeowner's policies are virtually the same. Both types of policies cover the dwelling itself for a determined amount, allow a particular amount for personal property, offer some degree of liability coverage, and have a deductible. The big differences between the two are in the optional coverages, specialized features, and rating information.
When you purchase a mobile home insurance policy, you may be offered some coverages you've never heard of before. This is the insurance company's way of making their policies work for many different situations. One of the biggest differences in standard homes and mobile homes is the fact that a mobile home could potentially move to a different location at some point in the future. Since this isn't something that can occur with a standard home, insurance companies created a special optional coverage for their mobile home customers to give them the coverage they need for a diverse number of situations.
Another difference in mobile home policies is the variety of specialized features that are offered. Some insurers offer more deductible choices and the option to insure the property for a stated value instead of actual cash value, which depreciates over time. There may even be more of a selection of payment options including paying quarterly, every six months, or ten pay. But be aware, there are typically no grace periods for payments on mobile home insurance. Unlike a homeowner's policy that can allow several days past the bill date before cancellation, a mobile home policy will cancel on the due date if no payment has been made.
Finally, there are some significant differences in how mobile homes and permanent houses are rated. Because of this, a wholly different set of questions will be asked during the mobile home insurance quoting process. One of the most important things to note is that some companies may implement an age restriction. Whereas insuring a house less than a century old is fairly simple, getting insurance for a mobile home over forty years of age may be more difficult. You will also need more information about your mobile home in order to get a quote than if you were getting insurance for a traditional house.
It may take a little longer to get a quote on your mobile home since this type of policy can require more information than other types of property insurance. Although the process may be meticulous, it's necessary in order to ensure that your home is adequately insured. Furthermore, your agent may not have access to the property data for your home, so you will need to provide it when getting a quote. Here is some of the information your agent may ask for when quoting your property:
- Ownership Status - Do you own the property and live there full time? Do you rent it from someone else or lease it to others? Is the property vacant or seasonal? All of these occupational statuses are generally acceptable when insuring a mobile home, but be sure your agent is aware of your situation so that you'll get the proper rate.
- Year Built and Purchase Date - Your agent will need the age or year of your mobile home in order to quote a price. He or she may also ask for the year it was purchased or when you moved in. Be aware that some companies have age restrictions and won't insure mobile or manufactured homes over a certain age. If you have an older mobile home, it's a good idea to ask your agent up front if they will be able to insure it for you.
- Make and Model - This information is pertinent when quoting your policy and your agent will require it. If you're not sure where to find this information, check the paperwork you received when the home was purchased. For renters, this information may not be necessary.
- Dimensions - Sometimes the length and width of your home will appear on public property databases and your agent can find this information on their own. However, tax records are not always accurate, so it's a good idea to make sure that your agent is quoting your property with the correct size. You don't want to have too little or too much coverage.
- Single, Double, or Triple-Wide - The length and width of a mobile home isn't always indicative of its classification as single, double, triple-wide, etc. Some companies require this as a separate rating question while others only ask for the length and width. Either way, it's a good piece of information to have handy in case it's needed.
- Serial Number - Again, this piece of information should be on the paperwork you received when you purchased the home. Your agent may or may not ask for this information but it's good to have on hand in case it's needed.
- Tie-Down - This one is a big rating factor for insurance companies. There's definitely a preference for mobile homes that are tied down and have a permanent ground anchor. Let your agent know what the status of your mobile home's foundation is so that it can be rated properly. If you're not sure, your agent may offer to come out and look at it or send an inspector out to check.
- Skirting - Do you have aluminum, vinyl, brick, or something else around the bottom of your mobile home? These different types of materials have a tremendous variance in their cost to repair or replace so it's crucial that the correct material is listed.
- Interior Information - With mobile homes, there tends to be a wider array of interior finishes. Whereas stand-alone houses either have sheetrock or plaster walls, mobile homes include these options and pre-fabricated walls, as well. Since the quality of the interior makes a significant difference in the price of your policy and amount of coverage needed, be prepared to have your agent ask several questions about what type of walls, floors, and other interior finishes exist in your home.
- Add-Ons - Have you added a porch, den, or other room to your mobile home? It's important to let your agent know that modifications have been made to the structure in addition to the original length and width dimensions. This will ensure that every square inch of your home is properly insured.
- Safety Features - Insurance agencies love property owners who take safety seriously. This is why they ask a lot of questions about steps you've taken to safeguard your home. Do you have a fire extinguisher and smoke alarms? Are all of your doors equipped with deadbolt locks? Is your home under surveillance by an alarm company? All of these safety precautions can save you money. Although you may have to show your agent a copy of your alarm certificate in order to receive a discount for having it, the significant savings are often worth the tiny inconvenience of acquiring paperwork.
- Other Structures - It's not uncommon to see a mobile home with a detached garage, carport, or other outbuilding. Because of this, most insurance companies offer coverage for other structures on your property in addition to the home itself. If you have an outbuilding to insure, have its dimensions handy to give to your agent so it can be listed on your policy. Most mobile home insurance policies come with some built-in coverage for other structures (usually ten percent of the dwelling replacement cost) but you may have the option of purchasing more coverage if necessary.
Specialized Coverage Options
In addition to your dwelling protection, personal property coverage, and liability, there are a few other optional coverages you may have available to purchase when you buy your policy. Some features vary by company, but these are a few add-on coverages you may be able to purchase, if necessary:
- Breakdown Protection - Virtually no standard homeowner's insurance policy covers wear and tear or breakdown to covered dwellings, fixtures, or appliances. However, some companies offer this coverage as an optional endorsement to mobile home owners. Since this feature may only apply to certain items, be sure to review this coverage carefully. It may still be necessary to buy a home warranty for other appliances and electrical components if this endorsement doesn't offer all the coverage you need.
- Builder's Risk - Most people are familiar with this coverage when it pertains to a newly built home. With mobile home insurance, this coverage may be available if you have just purchased your home and are in the process of moving. Some lenders even require this coverage when a new mobile home is purchased.
- Enhanced Coverage - If you find that the included policy limits for things like additional living expenses or fire department surcharges aren't enough for your needs, you could have the option of adding more coverage for an additional fee.
Why Can't I Get Homeowner's Insurance for My Mobile Home?
You may be thinking that you would rather have a standard homeowner's insurance policy for your mobile home because you're more familiar with the product or because there are certain features of a homeowner's policy that you would like to purchase. Even if you suspect your insurance agent may never find out the difference, this isn't a good idea for several reasons. First of all, many insurers send out inspectors to newly insured properties. So unless your home has undergone extensive exterior renovations, the inspector will most likely realize you have a mobile home. Since mobile homes don't qualify for standard homeowner's insurance, this will result in your policy being marked for cancellation and could result in a lapse in coverage until a new policy is written.
Furthermore, if you were to get a homeowner's policy for your mobile home and the company doesn't catch the mistake immediately, they may find out later. You certainly wouldn't want to have a future claim denied because your home wasn't properly insured. So, if you have any questions or concerns about needing to purchase a mobile home policy instead of a standard homeowner's policy, discuss them with your agent. He or she should be able to review the policy coverage and options with you in order to ease your concerns.
How to Get Insurance For Your Mobile Home
Not all insurance companies offer mobile home insurance, so it may be necessary to go to a company other than your car insurance provider in order to get coverage. If you want to avoid making multiple calls to several agencies, you have a couple of choices. You could get insurance quotes online, or you could fax or email your information to several different local agents and request a call or email when the quote is completed. This will save you time and energy while still allowing you to shop for the best price and coverage.
Despite their differences, homeowner's insurance and mobile home insurance at their core are very similar. There's no need to worry that by being a mobile home owner you're getting an inferior insurance policy. As long as you take care to provide all the necessary rating information for your policy, your agent will certainly do his or her best to ensure that your property is adequately insured.