Why is it harder to insure a manufactured home?

Mon May 20 2024

Mobile home with tropical foliage, shrubbery, palm trees, front lawn, front door, sidewalk on a sunny day

Prior to the 1950s, mobile homes were just that: travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers that people slept in while traveling. They then began being used more frequently as inexpensive housing.

As time passed, mobile homes became larger and less mobile. They still had wheels and tires, but they became more challenging to move, often requiring large trucks to transport them from one location to another. By the 1960s, they became more popular as a housing option, with mobile home and trailer parks sprouting up across the landscape.

Eventually, mobile homes evolved into more permanent housing. This prompted the Department of Housing and Urban Development to create stricter codes in 1976. With more room and features of a permanent structure, manufactured home standards were again raised by ANSI guidelines in 1995.

What was once considered entry-level housing, today's manufactured homes are popular with young families and seniors. In the south, many snowbirds nest in them throughout the winter.

What surprises many, however, is the difficulty of insuring a mobile or manufactured home.

Significance of manufactured home insurance

While the definition and construction of a manufactured home may differ from those of a traditional single-family home, the significance and importance of having home insurance does not.

  • A lender will still likely require home insurance to protect their interests.

  • A manufactured home is still subject to most of the same perils as a traditional single-family home.

  • The owner is still liable for the safety of visitors, making liability coverage a critical protection for mobile home owners.

Moreover, mobile homes are often placed on rented lots in mobile home parks that may require home insurance.

Challenges in insuring manufactured homes

Although the reasons for getting home insurance may be the same for manufactured homes and traditional single-family homes, the challenges in securing insurance for a manufactured home can be more difficult.

Variations in construction standards

Manufactured homes are generally made out of lighter-weight materials, and the quality of construction can vary greatly between manufacturers. As a result, insurance underwriters find it difficult to assess the risk a manufactured home faces.

Fewer security features

Manufactured homes frequently use windows and doors that may not be as secure as you find in a traditional home. They’re also less likely to be equipped with safety or security features.

Manufactured homes can quickly become a total loss in fires

A fire in or around a home can quickly cause a total loss. That’s even more true for a mobile or manufactured home than that for a stick-built home.


Their location is another factor that adds to the challenge of insuring mobile and manufactured homes. Manufactured homes may be placed in communities where lots are rented, which adds a layer of complexity to the underwriting process.

Structural differences between traditional and manufactured homes

A simple walk-through can reveal the difference between a traditionally built and manufactured home. Construction and quality have both improved significantly over time, but manufactured homes are built to be affordable where traditional homes are built to last.

What does that mean? Compared to a traditionally built home, the walls of manufactured homes are thinner, and there may be less insulation. Flooring may feel less substantial, and doors and windows are often lightweight. Cabinetry may be less abundant and constructed of more lightweight materials.

Higher vulnerability to certain risks like wind and fire

Because of their lighter construction, mobile and manufactured homes are more prone to severe damage. Two notable examples are high winds and fire. Both can easily cause a total loss to a manufactured home.

Some of these issues can be mitigated by making improvements to a mobile or manufactured home. In particular, manufactured home owners want to look at ways of improving the safety and security aspects of the home. Not only can adding a fire alarm or security system better protect your home, it may also earn you a premium discount.

Even after improvements, owners may still be surprised by the cost of insuring their manufactured homes. They might feel that premiums should be proportionately smaller because the home is a smaller investment. However, premiums aren’t just based on the size and value of your home. Risk is an important factor, and manufactured homes typically face more risk.

Differences in coverage options for manufactured homes

Ultimately, manufactured home insurance and homeowners insurance are different policies. You can’t insure a manufactured home with home insurance, nor can you insure a traditional home with mobile home insurance. Even more importantly, mobile homes manufactured before 1976 may be uninsurable, even with upgrades.

You should also know that a mobile home insurance policy might have a salvage provision. Under this provision, you may be allowed to keep your damaged mobile home after a loss, but your insurer will then reduce your claim settlement by the amount of the salvage value.

Importance of understanding policy limits and coverage specifics

If you own a mobile or manufactured home, it is critical to understand as much about your policy as possible. Your policy coverage and limits are generally outlined on your policy's declaration page. This is frequently the first page or two of the policy and summarizes your coverage. If you have questions about your Kin policy, please either contact us or use the chat feature on the lower right side of your screen.

The bottom line

A less expensive purchase price doesn't always translate to lower insurance prices. This is particularly true with mobile and manufactured home insurance. These have distinctions that can make them difficult to insure, including:

  • Variables in construction.

  • Being located on rented lots.

  • A significant risk for damage from high winds.

  • Fewer safety and security features.

  • The potential for having a total loss in a fire.

At Kin, we want mobile home owners to know as much as they can about insuring their property and minimizing their risks. Should you have questions about mobile home or manufactured housing insurance, contact us. We can help analyze and review your current coverage and provide a quick quote. Kin Insurance is affordable home insurance made easy.


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