Step into the way-back machine (not so way back for some of us). Remember this late 70s/early 80s sitcom theme song?

Come and knock on our door… We’ve been waiting for you… Three’s company, too!

Three single roommates share an apartment in California and the wily landlord, Mr. Roper, shows up from time to time to pester them. Hijinks ensue. What if Janet, Chrissy, and Jack applied for an HO3 or HO6 together? Would you write a Tower Hill policy for them?

The topics of unmarried insureds and multiple owners are part of the underwriting process. Differentiating between carriers’ preferences can be difficult. So let’s set the record straight about Tower Hill’s current underwriting guidelines:

Unmarried Insureds

Risks that are owned and occupied by unmarried insureds are acceptable when the individuals are a couple (engaged, domestic partners, etc.). The key words are owned, occupied, and couple. If only one unmarried insured owns the home or occupies it, or if they are not a “couple,” then the risk is not eligible. Both named insureds must have a legal interest in the home/condo and occupy it on a primary basis. Unmarried insureds in any situation are ineligible on our HO4 policy.

What is the concern? If a loss occurs, woe to the claim representative who has to sort out whose stuff belongs to whom (I’m still waiting for my college roommate to give me back one of my shirts). We’re looking to underwrite situations where there is no dispute of who owns the home/condo/personal property and provide liability coverage for clients in stable relationships.

While the Force runs strong in our underwriting department, we haven’t developed the ability to read people’s minds. Yet. So if you have unmarried clients who meet the above criteria, please indicate that information in the comments section of the application. This will prevent an awkward diary sent to your office asking for more information about the relationship status of your “single” clients. No, we’re not eHarmony or prying into people’s personal lives. We respect your time and just ask this information be provided up front with the application so we understand the entire risk.

Multiple Owners

Risks that are owned or occupied by more than one family are ineligible (think “single family” dwelling). Example: My brothers and I are part of the same family. But we’re also adults who are not dependent on our parents (I speak for myself) and have our own families. We don’t share bank accounts, take vacations together, pay each others bills, or anything else that “families” do. Therefore, we are considered separate families. If we purchased a house together and moved in with our separate families, we wouldn’t meet eligibility guidelines.

When multiple families own or occupy a home, there are increased property and liability hazards. This is multiplied on secondary or seasonal risks when their families bring with or let their friends and coworkers use the risk at other times.  It also creates questions of who is financially responsible for maintaining the home. Who pays the utilities and insurance and property taxes?

If you have questions, our Underwriting FAQ document is available in RPM under Resources -> Support Docs -> Product Documents (the most current version was published in November 2013). Or if you have a situation you believe merits an exception, your friendly account underwriters are only a phone call or email away.

And now thanks to this blog title, we’ll all have the “Three’s Company” theme song stuck in our heads for the rest of the day. One more time: “Come and knock on our door, we’ve been waiting for you…three’s company, too!

Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

About Brian Hunt, AIC, CPCU

Commercial Underwriter II
Tower Hill Insurance Group

Brian started his insurance career with State Farm in St. Paul, MN, in 1998. In addition to handling property and liability claims, he served as part of the National Catastrophe Team, following tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms across the country. He made several friends named Charley, Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, Wilma, and Katrina. He moved to Florida in 2009 to manage a catastrophe office in Jacksonville, and because of a girl (now wife) his path led him to Gainesville and Tower Hill Insurance. In his free time, Brian is an Ironman triathlete and also enjoys writing about local and national history.