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Our insurance company sent someone out to take photos of our home. They then sent us a letter stating we must fix cracked windows and remove any foliage that is near or hangs over house and out-building. Nothing specific or we would be cancelled. All foliage is living, nothing dead. Can they do this? We live in Michigan.

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    What @littleadv describes in his answer is Risk Mitigation. Insurers are really big on risk mitigation in the business insurance world, and now it's apparently filtering down into the residential arena.
    – RonJohn
    Sep 28, 2023 at 14:56
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    You're lucky that you got a letter. When we moved into our house, the insurance rep did a walk by and they decided to cancel our homeowners insurance due to a lack of railing on a deck, with no demand to fix, just a cancel of our policy. The silly thing was that the deck was in compliance with local regulations (it was a low deck less than 30" off the ground at its highest point, which was the local regulation for needing a railing). However, the silver lining was that when we got insurance from another company (with no railing stipulation), the rates were less for better coverage.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 28, 2023 at 16:10
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    I think the question really is, "is there anything in Michigan or federal law that entitles me to keep my existing insurance on a generally well-maintained home with cracked windows and nearby foliage?". I think it's fairly clear they can't legally "force" you to do specific maintenance on your home. But what they might be able to do is (a) cancel your policy; (b) keep taking the premiums but then refuse to pay out on the policy if you ever claim, on grounds that you're in breach. What you're hoping is you can force them to continue insuring you. Sep 29, 2023 at 11:30
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    With the increase in forest fires, many companies have started insisting on proper defensible space around the house, with specifications given. Otherwise they won't insure. On the upside, my insurance company will proactively send people out to spray coat my house in a fire situation (also a loss-prevention measure for them). Where my parents live, the local fire department will take you for a personal tour of your neighborhood pointing out which houses they won't bother trying to save in a forest fire, and which ones have done the right thing.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 29, 2023 at 13:18
  • I in fact once had an insurance company do this to me directly after I switched to them (not naming names, but their initials were Allstate). Arguably a bait-and-switch. Cost me about $500, and that's with me doing some of the work myself.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 30, 2023 at 21:57

2 Answers 2

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Can they do this?

Yes.

They're trying to identify potential hazards/liability and have you mitigate that before problems happen for which they'd have to pay. Cracked windows and seemingly neglected yard seem to suggest that you're not maintaining the property (that's how the insurance company sees it, even if it disagrees with the actual reality).

Insurance companies are having a lot of losses due to the various weather events (wildfires, wind damage, floods), and in many States regulators resist their push to allow them to raise premiums to cover those losses. Harassing homeowners in this way is a way to put pressure on the politicians to allow them to charge more.

In California, for example, not only do they have these proactive inspections and cancellations, but some insurers leave the State altogether since the increasing risk of wildfires and the regulatory resistance to allow increasing premiums makes it much less profitable for them to operate in the State.

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    It's likely that this is written directly into your insurance policy. You might want to sit down and read through it again, making notes about limitations and obligations.
    – keshlam
    Sep 28, 2023 at 8:14
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    Actually, the window “just” cracked. It is one on 2 that we did not completely replace less then a year ago. We are replacing the 2 in a month or so. I understand them wanting windows fixed, so do we. Thats why we are replacing them. The foliage is trimmed and not neglected. I don’t want to chop down the trees and bushes that are in excellent shape. We take very good care of our home and yard. Eg: we paid a large sum of money to have a dying tree removed last summer and another trimmed that was becoming a nuisance. You should not assume we are neglectful . We are not.
    – Michael
    Sep 28, 2023 at 12:55
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    @Michael try not to take the comment personally (re: seemingly neglectful). The fact is that if all you have to go by is a picture of some cracked windows and trees that don't look like they have been trimmed, you get the neglectful rubber stamp. Remember, the insurance company is not a person but a collection of rules and policies designed to make a profit. They don't care if you care for your home well or not, they only care about what they have to pay out for (or what they can charge more for).
    – coteyr
    Sep 28, 2023 at 14:54
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    And if it's maintenance you are doing anyway, all you have to do is say "yes, this just happened, we're aware of it and fixing it, no need to send threatening letters." It gets fixed, they have no complaints, whole thing goes away.
    – keshlam
    Sep 28, 2023 at 15:34
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    @keshlam I have a very different experience. At least in California I've seen cases where they'd say "we don't care what you do now, it wasn't done when we looked so FU, you're cancelled". The insurance companies are being brutal right now.
    – littleadv
    Sep 28, 2023 at 16:18
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Can they do this?

If your insurance contract says they are allowed to cancel the insurance if you don't make certain maintenance work they identified as possible hazards, then they can do this.

If your insurance contract says that they have to insure you no matter what you do with your house, they can't.

So you will have to dig out the copy of your insurance policy and read it.

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    "If your state law says that they have to insure you no matter what..." FTFY.
    – RonJohn
    Sep 28, 2023 at 14:52
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    let's not forget that not all clauses in all contracts are necessarily legal, and in some jurisdictions may just become void.
    – njzk2
    Sep 28, 2023 at 20:39
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    If op have cracked windows, shouldn't insurance pay for that? cc @michael Sep 29, 2023 at 19:03
  • @akostadinov The insurance I'm aware of pays on claims, and then what you have to pay regularly to keep the insurance can change based on whether you have made claims (and their nature).
    – wizzwizz4
    Sep 29, 2023 at 23:50
  • @akostadinov Last time I renegotiated my home insurance policy, windows and other glass items were an optional package. Which I, for example, don't need because I own an apartment and all the windows are communal property of the HOA.
    – Philipp
    Oct 1, 2023 at 10:04

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