Wyoming Retirees On Fixed Income Have Homeowners Insurance Yanked After 42 Years

A retired couple on a fixed income in rural Wyoming had the homeowners insurance on their mobile home yanked after 42 years, and they’re not alone.

Renée Jean

May 23, 20245 min read

More mobile home owners in Wyoming are finding it more difficult to insure their homes, or are being dropped altogether by insurance companies.
More mobile home owners in Wyoming are finding it more difficult to insure their homes, or are being dropped altogether by insurance companies. (West Winds Mobile Home Community via Facebook)

A retired Dixon, Wyoming, couple have landed in no-man’s land when it comes to insuring their mobile home. That’s after 42 years of carrying coverage continuously with their insurance company, never missing a payment and never turning in a claim.

The couple, who asked not to be named, told Cowboy State Daily that they believe many other senior citizens are facing similar difficulties.

“This all started a year and a half ago,” said the man, who we will refer to as David. “Our insurer sent us a letter saying that the insurance side of the business was going to transfer to Farmers.”

Not even a year later, David and his wife received a notice that the insurance rate was going up by $1,900.

“I’m on a fixed income,” David said. “So that might not bother anybody in Jackson Hole, but we can’t do that.”

The couple finally found a new policy with less coverage for their mobile home that was cheaper — or so they thought.

Within a few months, they got a notice from the new company that it hadn’t realized they were insuring a mobile home, yanking their coverage.

That has left the couple completely without an insurance option for their home after decades of dutifully paying premiums and keeping their coverage up to date.

“I did some looking around, and I just couldn’t come up with anything,” David said. “So, since the end of January, we haven’t had any insurance on our home.”

David told Cowboy State Daily that he goes to bed at night just hoping nothing happens to their home. But he’s been a volunteer firefighter and knows firsthand how quickly a fire can destroy a mobile home.

“Mobile homes are usually burned down before we could even get there,” he said.

Not Alone

Wyoming Department of Insurance Commissioner Jeff Rude told Cowboy State Daily there hasn’t been an uptick in calls to his office about the issue, but he knows the couple in Dixon aren’t alone in these difficulties.

“Allstate left the market recently, and I think they had like 344 people in the state who had to go elsewhere to find insurance on their mobile homes,” Rude said. “And so, the market is even tighter.”

Mobile homes, Rude added, have always been more difficult to insure. Now, companies don’t want to bother with them at all.

“I think there’s a reluctance, or there’s more damage to a mobile home than there is when you have brick-and-mortar homes,” Rude said. “Or the profits are much smaller and so they don’t want to put the risk out there.”

The homes can also be harder to repair if damaged and, in some cases, might require an entirely new mobile home.

Even before Allstate left the Wyoming market, Rude said there were just a couple of companies willing to write mobile home policies because it’s less profitable.

“If they want to call our office, we might, you know, they could call one of our consumer advocates, and we might be able to come up with a name or two to help them,” Rude added. “Or their agent might be able to help them.”

Pricing Out Homeownership

Insurance rates have been skyrocketing for traditional brick-and-mortar homes as well, and some homeowners have reported to Cowboy State Daily that they’ve been dropped by their insurers altogether.

Rude says the trend is affecting the ability of people to afford homes.

“That’s a cost that some folks don’t necessarily take into account right away,” he said. “But they really need to because those rates, the cost has gone up and everything we’ve seen indicates it’s not going to come down anytime soon.”

In fact, Rude said they will likely continue going up, based on what people in the industry have been telling him.

Rocky Mountain Insurer’s Association Executive Director Carole Walker has told Cowboy State Daily that it’s a “perfect storm” for the insurance industry now.

Inflation has boosted the cost of rebuilding or repairing a structure to record highs, while at the same time, record-breaking catastrophes have increased the risk factor.

“That includes, for Wyoming, wildfire risk, or if you’re in a hail-prone area like Cheyenne, hail risk,” she said. “This is the most challenging property insurance market that we’ve seen in a generation.”

Bothy Rude and Walker recommend homeowners, and mobile home owners, work with an insurance agent to shop around for the best deals.

They should also take mitigation steps for their homes to make them safer, and thus more insurable.

“Talk to your insurance company about what mitigation steps they would require,” Walker said. “Hopefully, those are also going to make your home safer. And if you do it, great. If your neighbor does it, even better. But if your community is working toward, you know, community wildfire mitigation, that’s a positive step.”

For information about mitigating insurance costs, Walker recommends visiting the websites for the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety and the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association

Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Renée Jean

Business and Tourism Reporter