Homeowners need to be able to buy good insurance coverage and understand what they are buying. When losses occur, insurance companies need to deliver on the protection they have promised. The Essential Protections for Policyholders project analyzes and recommends state laws that make sure that happens.




Every state regulates homeowners insurance and insurance companies, but states differ dramatically in how much and what kind of regulation they provide for the benefit of policyholders. The Essential Protections provide a roadmap in four categories that every state can follow in improving homeowners insurance. 

Read a summary of the Essential Protections

Read the full report

Essential Protections when Buying Insurance

Consumers need readily available, easily understandable information about the insurance policies available to them and the insurance companies that offer those policies to shop effectively for insurance. The Essential Protections aim to give consumers full, understandable information about insurance policies and insurance companies so that they can make wise buying decisions and to create competition among companies that leads to better products and fairer prices.

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Essential Protections for Coverage

All homeowners need basic protection from their insurance policies and many buy additional protection. The Essential Protections require that policies contain minimum guarantees of protection and that companies offer some kinds of additional protection. Policyholders also need to be protected against unfair cancellation or nonrenewal of their policies, and the Essential Protections set standards there, too.

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Essential Protections in the Claims Process

The protection and security that an insurance policy provides must be guaranteed by a fair and efficient claims process. The Essential Protections require insurance companies to provide information to insureds about the claims process and to implement reasonable standards for processing, investigating, evaluating, and paying claims.

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Essential Protections for Disaster Victims

Policyholders who suffer losses due to natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, or tornadoes face all of the potential problems that other policyholders confront and more. Many of the Essential Protections for Policyholders that apply in other circumstances are extremely important for disaster victims as well but disaster victims need additional protections as well.

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Policyholder Protections Blog

The Market for Ignorance in Insurance

Insurance is mostly sold on the basis of ignorance, not information. That needs to change.

Current law on Essential Protections

In each of the Essential Protections for Policyholders, the report identifies and discusses an issue, recommends action that legislatures or sometimes insurance commissioners should take, usually offers recommended statutory language, and provides context in a summary of current law. Like other scholarship in the law and public policy realm, it requires a certain amount of self-confidence to offer a “best” solution to difficult and important issues.

Who did this work?

Essential Protections for Policyholders is a project of the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility at Rutgers Law School in cooperation with United Policyholders.

What protections are essential for homeowners?

States regulate many aspects of homeowners insurance, and the Essential Protections for Policyholders project focuses on those that are—essential. We had two selection criteria for deciding what to include:

Why Essential Protections?

Homeowners insurance provides financial security. Fires, accidents, and storms may occur, but insurance provides funds to rebuild. Just as important, insurance provides emotional security; policyholders expect their insurance companies to be trusted partners in the process of coping with losses.

About the project

Essential Protections for Policyholders is a project of the Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility in cooperation with United Policyholders.

The Rutgers Center for Risk and Responsibility at Rutgers Law School explores the ways in which society makes choices about risk, its proper allocation, and compensation for the harm caused when risks materialize.

United Policyholders is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to be a trustworthy and useful information resource and a respected voice for consumers of all types of insurance in all fifty states. 

More about the project