Are you thinking about a shipping container home, or some other kind of earth-friendly construction? You might want to think again, whether you’re considering buying or renting! While in many cases they’re less susceptible to some types of risk, one of the risks you’ll have to deal with is that they’re incredibly difficult to insure. It does no good for the planet if you can’t afford to live in it!
There are a number of shipping container homes and other non-standard construction homes that are for rent in the Denver area. I’d love to live in one, and maybe build my own one day, but I’m concerned about getting Denver Renters Insurance. Is it harder to insure non-standard construction as a renter?
Is It Harder To Get Renters Insurance For Shipping Container Homes And Other Non-Standard Construction?
We asked five insurance agents from other states how they would insure a rented shipping container home. Granted, these are folks who have no idea what the Denver real estate market is like or what sorts of things the people in Denver might be interested in living in. But the general consensus was “Yeah, best of luck with that.”
If you’re looking to insure a shipping container home, or you live in some other type of construction that’s unique or otherwise non-standard, you’re likely to run into problems for a number of reasons. Sure, you’re only covering the contents of the shipping container homes, not the structure itself, but your liability is also a concern. Is it easier to damage with fire, smoke, water, or explosion? How hard is it to put out a fire in the home and save the contents? What other liability risks might there be?
If you need renters insurance for a shipping container home or something else that wasn’t built to the usual code, you’re going to have to do some legwork. That goes for any kind of insurance outside the norm, though. Most of the models in personal insurance are designed around making as many assumptions as possible. For example, there is an assumption that a home is one of maybe seven types of construction, each of which has predictable factors relating to fire safety, risk of injury to guests, and other risks.
When you get outside those norms, it can be hard to buy renters insurance online to meet your needs.
Why Don’t Insurance Companies Want To Insure Non-Standard Construction?
Denver Renters Insurance can be hard to get for shipping container homes, or really for any kind of rented home that doesn’t fit the normal construction standards. Since Denver residents tend to be conscious of their impact on the environment and they also tend to like to do things that don’t necessarily fit the norm, this can be problematic.
Shipping container homes might be built by anyone. There are do-it-yourself guides for constructing your own dwelling all over the internet. Anyone can buy a piece of land, drop a box on it, and start turning it into a home–of sorts. This means that there is often little regulation in terms of who is building the structure – Are they a licensed contractor? Are they just Joe Investor? – and how – Do they know the codes? Do they even know that there are building codes?
Speaking of building codes, sometimes there are exemptions made for non-standard construction like shipping container homes. The problem is that the insurance company doesn’t know what parts were done to code and what parts weren’t. Is the electrical safe? Was the plumbing done properly? If there’s PVC pipe, was it primed? If not, that’s a water claim just waiting to happen – and probably not waiting very long! Was the home insulated properly? Burst pipes are a serious concern, as well.
Insurance companies also have concerns about shipping container homes and earth-friendly constructions because of the fire danger. It’s not that the construction itself is more likely to burn, of course. Metal and dirt tend not to be terribly flammable. There is a serious liability risk, however, from the standpoint of being able to get out in a fire, especially for guests who might not be familiar with the home. In addition, there’s a risk that firefighters might not be able to get in to effectively fight the fire which puts both contents and people at additional risk.
If you live in non-standard construction, no matter how good for the earth that construction might be, there’s also a concern about security. Were the doors and windows installed in a secure way, or can they just be pushed inwards? Is there an easy way to control access to the entire building or unit? How is your property protected from theft?
What about the weight of ice and snow? In theory, certain kinds of construction lend themselves to being even stronger than standard construction – but that’s only if they’re done properly. Here again, especially if this is a home that someone built themselves from earth and other materials, there’s just no way for the insurance company to know that it was done properly. That creates a risk for the weight of ice and snow, as well as many other perils.
What Are My Alternatives?
You can get cheap renters insurance in new LEED-certified construction. There are, in fact, discounts for just that. In addition, there are plenty of other green alternatives for living that allow you to get renters insurance easily and quickly.
There certainly are ways to insure non-standard construction that’s eco-friendly. Surplus lines might be one option. But that can be a costly, long, and involved process best saved for building your own.
There are plenty of new constructions in Denver that are friendly to the environment and easy to insure. You don’t need to resort to building a shipping container home to do your part to save the planet. That’s best saved for those who both own the home and who have the time to navigate the process.
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Photo Credit: Paul Bartlett Cool Prefabricated Home - oncecoolhabitat.com CC BY ND 2.0