Is Homeowner’s Insurance Required?

Legally, you can own a home without homeowners insurance. However, in most cases, those who have a financial interest in your home-such as a mortgage or home equity loan holder-will require that it be insured. And, for your own ongoing financial protection, you’ll want your home to have adequate homeowners coverage, as well.

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While auto insurance is required by law in most states, home insurance may not be legally mandatory. But depending on other circumstances, you still might need it and, more important, likely always want it. As opposed to owning a car, most states don’t require you to have homeowners insurance if you legally own a home.

Unlike car insurance, which is required by law, homeowners insurance is not. However (and this is a pretty big however), most mortgage lenders will require some basic form of homeowners insurance. Think of it this way: your mortgage lender is kind of a joint homeowner with you.

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After you pay off your mortgage, you aren’t required to have home insurance. However, you should keep your home insurance policy active to avoid risking what you’ve invested in your home. If you purchase a condominium or co-op, your board may require you to buy condo insurance or home insurance. Be sure to check with your board to see what type of policy is required.

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Of course insurance itself is something of a bet and the amount you pay in will almost certainly be less than the amount you’ll need in the case of a traumatic event to your home; there is also a chance you might not ever need to use that money, and it will go away.

Reader question: "I have read that my mortgage lender won’t let me close on my loan unless I have a certain amount of home insurance.Is this true? Do I need to purchase a homeowners insurance policy before closing? And if so, is there a certain amount of coverage that I need to buy?"