For most people, getting homeowners insurance is simply a matter of finding a company, applying for coverage, and paying the bill. But, unfortunately, some people do get canceled soon after they’ve bound their policies. This is often because of a brief stretch of time known as the underwriting discovery period when insurance companies can conduct a more thorough review of the property and coverage.
What is the underwriting discovery period?
The underwriting discovery period – also known as the underwriting period, review period, or even the free look period – is a limited time when insurers can continue gathering information about a risk they’ve offered coverage to. During the discovery period, an insurer makes a final determination about whether the risk meets its underwriting guidelines. If it doesn’t, the insurer may cancel the policy.
So let’s say you buy a home insurance policy. The underwriting discovery period begins on the policy’s effective date and ends some time after – typically, 30 to 60 days, but can be 90 - 120 days depending on your state’s laws. Over this time, the insurance company takes a closer look at the risk (i.e., you and your home), often reviewing your home’s:
If your insurance company discovers that these or other characteristics make the risk ineligible for coverage, it can decide to terminate your policy.
How long is the underwriting discovery period?
The length of the underwriting period depends mainly on where you live. We listed the review periods for the states we serve in the chart below.
Underwriting discovery periods by state
*The underwriting period begins on the policy’s effective date.
What to do if you’re canceled during underwriting discovery
Insurance companies usually try to work with people before they outright cancel someone during the discovery period. They may ask you to get an additional inspection or to make repairs that reduce your chances of filing claims. This might include:
Cleaning up debris in your backyard.
Covering an empty pool.
Replacing old or recalled electrical panels.
Updating your plumbing.
Installing a new roof.
Removing or cutting back trees that touch or on your roof.
Most of these are general maintenance issues. However, not every situation can be easily fixed. For instance, asbestos removal is usually too extensive of an issue to be given much leeway when it comes to underwriting home insurance.
We appreciate that getting a cancellation notice so soon after buying a policy is frustrating – especially in states like Florida and Louisiana where getting quality coverage is becoming more difficult. However, maintaining our underwriting guidelines is essential to our financial strength.