Insurance Insights

Insurance Partner’s Battle to Secure Property Insurance in California

Article reading time: 4 minutes 45 seconds

We recently covered the gloomy state of California’s insurance market. Multiple large carriers have decided not to renew homeowner policies or accept new customers, leaving many Californians struggling to find coverage.

I recently found myself in the middle of this debacle. After several unfortunate circumstances, I began to chronicle my journey with journal entries, offering a first-hand look into the serious issues facing California’s insurance market.

Late November 2023
Hippo sent me a text stating that I needed to have a home inspection done within a specific 13-day period in early December in order to renew my policy, which ends in mid-April. I thought this was a fake thing, so I ignored it.

January 25, 2024
Today, I received a cancellation notice from Hippo. They said that because I didn’t comply with their requested home inspection, they’d be canceling my policy when it ends in April.

Realizing they were serious, I tried to schedule the inspection, but they refused, telling me, “If you snooze, you lose, buddy.”  Hippo told me that I was welcome to discuss my issue with the California DOI through their online consumer complaint process, which I did.

*Advice to CA homeowners: Don’t ignore communication from your home insurance carrier! And don’t be late with your payment, as they will cancel you at 12:01 a.m. the day after your payment is due.

Background Note: I have been a Hippo policyholder for four years and a homeowner for over 20 years, and I’ve never been asked for an inspection.

January 26, 2024
I begin the process of shopping around for coverage. I called my prior carrier, Mercury, and they are not writing new policies for my address. I tried my auto carrier, Geico, and they aren’t writing for my address either. AAA didn’t like that my home was 100 years old when I shopped around years ago, but I thought I’d give them a try again. No success.

I decided to try the last resort option here in California: the CA FAIR Plan. They said they would write a fire-only policy. Then, I’d need to get a “difference in condition” policy with another carrier for the other coverages typically included in a traditional policy.

What was my FAIR Plan and “difference in condition” quote? $7,600!! My Hippo policy was only $2,100.

February 4, 2024
Today, I woke up with an idea. Maybe Costco can save the day! (Like when you’re hungry and have a buck fifty in your pocket.) No luck. Costco is not currently offering new home or auto policies in CA.

February 5, 2024
I decided to go back to GEICO online but received a message that they couldn’t do online quotes. Desperate, I called their number, and they told me, “On rainy days, we can’t write new policies.” They suggested I call back on Wednesday or Thursday. My response was, “Call back when the sun is out. Is that really how you do business?” The agent explained that their partners in California had provided that directive.

What is going on in the world of insurance?!?

February 6, 2024
Today, I chatted with a buddy of mine. I had referred him to Hippo a while back. He also received a cancelation notice but complied with the inspection request! I find it weird that reinsurance costs to a carrier are not part of their rate filings, yet they can cancel a policyholder because they cannot get reinsurance.

February 7, 2024
Today, I received a response from the CA DOI. Pretty quick, in my opinion. It was a canned letter, but I was simply happy with a reply. I’m not feeling too hopeful. Hook me up, Karina!


Late February, 2024
In my work in the insurance space, I know that mortgage companies require proof of insurance coverage. If you don’t provide it, they will force place you. They will typically do this at a premium, but since I was already looking at a 300% or higher increase, I thought I’d let them force-place me, hoping it would be a better deal than my only option.

I called my mortgage company and explained my predicament and my strategy. You’d think they’d take me on as they’d receive a premium, right? Instead, they advised me not to go this route because they might also have trouble getting coverage.

March 13, 2024
New thought today: Maybe my credit union can help. If nothing else, at least I’d get a free, non-fat vanilla latte.*

I hit the “get a quote” button, answer the usual questions, and then a surprise! It says Mercury can insure me for a reasonable premium. I just need to call to speak to an agent. They were fibbing. When I called, the agent said Mercury wasn’t writing – which I knew because I had tried to get my own quote through them a few weeks earlier.

*Sadly, I still haven’t had my complimentary coffee beverage.

March 20, 2024
Today, I talked to a buddy who was in the same predicament. He has a quote from a surplus lines carrier, which is a non-admitted carrier. With the exodus of carriers writing in California, you would think that the non-admitted market would flock to the Golden State – especially when the quote is more than double.

March 28, 2024
I woke up to an email from Hippo. I double-checked to see if today was April Fool’s Day! The email states, “After discussions with the California Department of Insurance….” I wonder if this results from the complaint I filed a few weeks ago? If so, I’m glad I took the time to complain.

April 1, 2024
Today really is April Fool’s Day. I read the following NBC News article, and asked myself, “Should I really be complaining about California premiums?”

April 4, 2024
Today appears to be the bookend to my insurance saga. Hippo called me today and asked for a payment to secure the renewal. This time, I gladly offered to pay in full. I have paid monthly installments in the past, but I’ll be taking my own advice. I’m not leaving anything to chance – including an unintended mistake by the credit card company that could result in a cancellation.

What a ride the last five months have been!

You can see that securing homeowners insurance coverage in California’s turbulent market has been an immense challenge, even for a CPA specializing in insurance. Despite my expertise and persistent efforts, I faced repeated roadblocks and denials from carriers.

While relieved to have coverage reinstated, this ordeal underscores the difficulties ordinary homeowners face navigating this crisis. Transparency from carriers, cooperation with regulators, and innovative risk models will be essential for improving the insurance accessibility issues plaguing the state. For an industry dedicated to managing risk, solutions must be found to ensure all Californians can secure the vital protection property insurance provides.

Contact Us

Although we can’t help individuals find insurance coverage in California (we’re not sure who can!?), we do help insurance companies with their audit and tax compliance. For additional information about our services for insurance entities, call 818-334-8623 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

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