I could use advice and/or words of encouragement. We're buying a
1920's brick house in Virginia that is in GREAT shape, aside from
desperately needing new wiring to replace its old knob and tube and
having an old oil-burning furnace that we plan to replace with a gas
one. (The purchase price reflects the need to do both of these
Here's my problem. We obviously can't close on the house without
having insurance. And we won't replace the K&T until after we close
on the house, of course. But every insurance agent I've talked to so
far won't insure it until the wiring is replaced. See my paradox
here? (Note: it isn't that they won't insure it at a _reasonable_
price - they won't insure it at ANY price.)
VPIA is supposed to be around for these sorts of cases, and they're
not too badly priced. However, the agent who told me about VPIA (none
of the others could be bothered) says that since we're remodeling, we
can't do VPIA until we're done remodeling. Um. Ok, so how exactly do
we fix the wiring, then?
While I'm on the topic, at least some insurance agents have told me
that they won't write the policy if we do some of the work ourselves
instead of using a licensed contractor. Which seems to contradict
what I'm reading from the building permit office, which says that a
homeowner can get a permit and do anything on their own home, with the
usual requirements for inspections, etc. Any suggestions from folks
who have remodeled on who to use for a house with entirely up to code
and permitted work that happens to have been legally done by the
So have the seller replace it and up your purchase price to match.
FWIW, I've had both Allstate and Nationwide insure me in a knob and
tube environment. Have you treid just calling one and telling them
you're buying the place and need insurance, withoiut specifying
I have yet to have an insurance express any curiosity over anything other
that LOCATION, distance from fire hydrant, and size and replacement cost.
I suspect troll behavior. Why would he approach an insurance agent with a
red flag telling him he thinks the house has dangerous wiring but he wants
In this case it's not trolling, although it sounds suspicious
on the surface.
K & T has become a *big* insurability issue in both US and Canada.
Personally, I think the insurers are making too big a flap over it,
but read the articles on these sites:
Same here. We purchased our house 5 years ago. It was built in 1974,
back when aluminum wire was code. Our inspector informed us that
aluminum was a no longer used. We applied for insurance - they never
asked; we didn't tell; renovated the place with nice, new copper..done
deal. Smells like troll to me, too.
Actually, on this house, they're asking about a LOT of stuff, beyond
what I got asked when I insured the 1979 house we just sold.
Apparently 1924 raises all sorts of flags. I'm at the point where I
just start out by saying we have knob and tube, after I spent almost
half an hour on the phone with two of the first places I called, only
to have them decline to write a policy _after_ they asked about K&T.
That's after they took down the names, ages, genders, neuter status,
breed mixes, etc of all three dogs, among other things. Took forever,
only to get told 'no'. Since we're closing in just over 2 weeks, I
don't have a whole lot of time to burn, making me pretty averse to
trying to see if some insurer will forget to ask for long enough to
get the sale closed.
The folks who suggest I lie to the insurance company are probably
right - I could lie to them and probably for long enough to get the
house closed. However, it's clearly documented in the inspection
report that there's K&T, so in the event that I _did_ need the policy,
I'd be up a creek. Insurance fraud isn't my cup of tea, thanks. :)
It sounds like things have recently changed with K&T. AllState is no
longer insuring K&T (they were as recently as 2 years ago), nor is the
insurance company that presently covers the house. Nor my present
insurance company, despite years with not a single claim in the house
we just sold. I'll check the other companies suggested.
At this point, I've found one company (small local broker) willing to
write a policy which would give me 60 days to replace the wiring after
closing. That may be rushing it, depending on how many holes we have
to make in the walls, but it's doable at least.
So knob & tube is at least temporarily insurable in VA, but for
anything long term, I'd have to look at VPIA (which is Virginia's
version of FAIR). I was I think incorrect when I posted yesterday
that I couldn't insure the house through VPIA - they just won't do
replacement cost while the house is being remodeled.
Shop around with several insurance companies. Sadly, the P&C industry has
been pummeled in the last decade with a bad streak of claims expenses. Now
in many cases, companies may try limiting their exposure in a certain region
by being extremely picky on what they insure, especially with new customers.
Keep trying, and if you get nowhere, try calling your state department of
insurance. Someone, somewhere should insure your house.
I've done extensive work on my house, adding a deck, finishing a basement,
installing a hot tub, all of which required permits and inspections, which I
passed. No problems with our homeowners insurance.
Other than the premium rates getting a little up there.
You can always go uninsured until you get the wiring redone.
Of when they ask why kind of wiring you have lie or say that you don't
know and fix it ASAP.
Don't ever admit to doing it yourself, say you bought the house that
I hope this helps.
Hear, hear. We recently bought a house on a street full of cedar-sided
houses built in the 20s. Our homeowner's company canceled our policy after
giving us a binder and then sending out an inspector who proclaimed the
entire house needed to be reshingled. (But we had the policy for the
closing.) We had trouble getting a new policy, but finally found someone
who would insure us if we replaced some of the shingles, not all.
This is despite the fact that the shingled houses around us are in similar
condition. All the companies and agents I talked to cited increased claims
since 9/11 and since Hurricane Isabel last year as the reason for the
extreme pickiness, and since we're the first to buy in the neighborhood
since the hurricane, we got to pay the price.
Your lending institution can almost certainly find you
someone who can sell you enough insurance to cover THEM, and
that's all you need in order to close. The real estate
agent(s) involved may also have useful suggestions.
The casualty/homeowner's insurance isn't necessary, it's
just a really good idea, and you might be able to get
liability without the casualty. If you don't have any children
or other dependants other than a mate who's in reasonable
(employable) condition, you COULD just be really careful not to
burn the house down until you get the K&T disconnected.
Ohhh, OK, so I left out a couple of steps. This is 21st century
America, property tax databases are available for use by the
insurance companies. Back to the deed, to link it up, you'll
usually find a basic description of the dwelling in place,
and a designation by house and street number and/or block and
lot reference, both of which link right back to municipal tax
information. ("...being block 14, lots 6 and 7 in the Donald
Trump Plan of lots, having erected thereon a 2 1/2 story frame
and brick dwelling known as 21 Elm street...")
The point of it is that no insurance company is going to cover
an owner-occupied home without knowing some basic information.
The idea that you can walk in and buy an insurance policy
without them knowing anything about the dwelling is ludicrous.
The bigger point is that if you lie and get caught you go to
jail and go bankrupt from that unpaid mortgage on your suddenly
TP / Network Man __________________________________
If u want the races for free,
They've always asked type of construction, square footage, land value,
purchase price, number of floors and whether or not I had alarms or
fire extingushers. They've never asked about wiring, plumbing, or
Homeowner's insurance is a changed market now. Following a few storms,
and the soured economy (that reduced the insurance companies investment
income), and claims for mold, which had not been a problem until
recently so was not adequately underwritten, they realized that they
were losing a ton of money on homeowner's insurance. Their universal
response has been to make it much harder to get, and sometimes renew
insurance. I've never had to provide detailed information on our home,
but we have had our policy for many years, with no recent claims. Right
now I would be reluctant to make a claim, short of major destruction of
the house, lest I trigger the renewal review process.
In your situation, I think your best option is to get a firm price on
replacing the wiring, then talk to the seller about reaching an
accommodation. Perhaps you can increase your offer by a percentage of
the wiring replacement cost, and the seller can have the replacement
done before closing. Perhaps the seller would even be willing to bear
the entire cost himself, if the old wiring is a deal breaker; after all,
anyone other than a cash purchaser will face the same insurance problem
you are facing.
SPAMBLOCK NOTICE! To reply to me, delete the h from apkh.net, if it is
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