Frequently Asked Questions
Is it true that you only insure one home on a block? Is it true that you only insure brick homes with slate roofs? These are just two of the questions that we are frequently asked.
We hope that the following information helps to dispel the myths about the Society as well as inform you about how Mutual Assurance operates.
Why do you refer to policyholders as members?
The Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia is a mutual insurance company. Unlike a stock insurance company with stockholders, our policyholders are our owner members. Each member receives an annual report and is eligible to vote at our annual meeting, either in person or by proxy.
Is it true that you only insure one house on a block?
No. We will insure multiple homes on a block. Each home, however, must meet our underwriting criteria.
Is it true that Mutual Assurance only insures brick homes with slate roofs?
No. We insure brick and frame homes throughout Virginia with various roof types. Each home, however, must meet our underwriting criteria and construction is a factor in determining your initial policy premium as well as annual assessments.
Is it true that I will pay little or nothing per year for homeowners insurance with Mutual Assurance?
No. Unlike other insurance companies, Mutual Assurance issues a perpetual homeowners policy. In the first year of the policy you are charged a policy premium. Then, at each anniversary you are charged an assessment. Assessments pay for the ongoing costs of the Society. Annual assessments are based on a percentage of your policy premium. The Society’s Board of Directors sets the percentage annually and the assessment percentage is the same for all policyholders having the same policy type and exposure classification. Annual assessments can be from 1% to 200% of the policy premium. In determining the annual assessment percentage, the Board of Directors considers such factors as insurance income, reinsurance costs, loss and loss adjustment expenses, underwriting expenses, investment income and investment performance. For example, a homeowner paying a $1000 policy premium would pay $200 in a subsequent year having a 20% assessment. A $125 to $150 minimum annual assessment, depending on the policy, is applicable to each policy.
What makes a perpetual policy different from other insurance policies?
A perpetual policy is one without expiration. Both parties agree to keep the policy in-force without an expiration date and so long as the conditions of membership are satisfied the policy remains in effect, subject however to the cancellation provisions of the policy and the Society’s bylaws. Other insurance policies expire after a set term, usually one year and are renewed by both parties.
Why does Mutual Assurance issue a perpetual policy?
The essence of the Society is a “mutual” commitment of the Society and its member policyholders, each to the other. It is the expectation of the Society that once insured, a member will remain insured by the Society. The perpetual policy is a reflection of that expectation, subject only to the cancellation provisions of the policy and the current underwriting and eligibility requirements of the Society.
Does Mutual Assurance Society offer policies outside of Virginia?
No. The Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia operates only in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Why is there a 30-day waiting period to get a policy with Mutual Assurance?
We require at least a 30-day waiting period for new policies to allow us time to arrange for and conduct an inspection of the prospective property and its premises. Many companies will write your policy over the phone and decide later whether or not they will continue to insure your property. We feel it is in our members’ best interest to make underwriting decisions before coverage is effective.
Why does the Society inspect every property?
A physical inspection of the property allows us to properly estimate the amount of insurance needed to adequately insure the property. In addition, a physical inspection is the best way to identify existing damage, hazards or deficiencies present on the premises. After over 200 years of insuring property, we are convinced that a physical inspection is an essential component of sound underwriting principles.
Can I get my Automobile insurance through Mutual Assurance?
No. The Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia only provides homeowners insurance coverage for single family owner occupied properties. As an accommodation to our homeowner policyholders, we also offer dwelling fire, scheduled property and personal umbrella liability insurance. For more information, visit our Policies and Coverages page.
Will you insure a home that has a hot water heater located in the attic?
Yes, but only with certain precautions. Hot water heaters have an average life expectancy of only 10 to 12 years. Thus, it is not a matter of if it will fail, but rather when it will fail. The potential property damage from the stored hot water as well as the active cold water supply line is enormous. In addition, hot water heaters and their supply lines in attics or other unheated areas are exposed to the equally serious risk of freezing and bursting. We prefer to see hot water heaters located in garages, basements, or, at worst, in first-floor utility rooms in order to mitigate the property damage that may result from a failed hot water heater or frozen supply line. Therefore, we require a drip pan and outside drain line on every hot water heater unless it is installed in an unfinished basement or garage. If a hot water heater is located in the attic or anywhere else above a finished living area, we also require the installation of an automatic water supply shut-off valve.
Why do some members have a facultative reinsurance charge added to their annual assessment invoice?
Reinsurance is insurance the Society purchases to protect itself against large losses and catastrophic events. Facultative reinsurance allows the Society to insure individual homes valued higher than what the Society would ordinarily insure. The cost of facultative reinsurance is charged directly to the individual homeowner as an addition to their annual assessment and forwarded by the Society to the reinsurer. The Society receives no part of the facultative reinsurance premium nor does it receive any commission for placing this reinsurance. Without the use of facultative reinsurance, less than 1% of members would be unable to continue their homeowners insurance with the Society.