The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) gets questions all the time. Here is one answered by chief actuary James Lynch:
Q: On your web page, you report an ORC International poll for the I.I.I. found that 95 percent of homeowners had homeowners insurance. How many homes does that represent?
A: The short answer is about 70 million. And as is so often the case, I took a long route to it.
The 95 percent is the percentage of people who said they own a home and then answered “yes” to the question of whether they have homeowners insurance. We regularly survey about 1,000 people on this topic, and around 94 percent to 96 percent generally answer yes.
In the poll, we do not define what a home is, so it could be single-family home, a condo, a co-op, a duplex or anything else. In addition, there are several different types of homeowner policies, but the survey doesn’t ask which type they have. The I.I.I. designed the survey, and we doubt the typical consumer knows off the top of his head whether they bought, say, a dwelling fire policy or an HO-3, so we don’t ask. The answers would not be meaningful.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) collects information on all types of homeowners policies. To muddle things a bit, one of those “homeowners” policies is really renters insurance. In 2012, the most recent year available, there were 68.6 million policies for the various types of homeowners policies or their barebones brethren, dwelling fire (not counting the renters insurance I just mentioned).
As a reasonableness check (and because I felt like it), I created a separate estimate by using U.S. Census data from the American Community Survey (factfinder.census.gov). The table is C-01-AH, if you want to look it up yourself.
According to that source, there were 75.65 million owner-occupied year-round housing units in 2013, both single- and multi-family. (There are another 4.07 million seasonally occupied homes.).
Multiplying the 75.65 by the 95 percent with insurance leaves us with an estimate of about 72 million homeowners policies covering primary residences.
Comparing the estimates: they measure two different years, 2012 and 2013 but that discrepancy isn’t critical. The number of households doesn’t vary too much from year to year. More significant: the latter estimate is indirect; it smashes together numbers from two sources (Census Bureau and I.I.I. poll). So it is probably less accurate than using the NAIC data, even though the NAIC data is older. However I find it reassuring they came to approximately the same number. That’s why 70 million seems a reasonable estimate.
Q: Thank you for your quick response. I appreciate the background/explanation. I was actually trying to determine the number of homes that are uninsured (the 5 percent). Based on your calculations below, 5 percent of the 75.65 would be 3.78 million, correct?
A: Your math is correct if you want to estimate primary residences, including condos, etc. Secondary residences would add another 200,000 approximately, being 5 percent of 4.07 million (give or take). Because it is an estimate and a rough one on a (relatively) small number, I’d round it in general terms, such as saying “between 3 ½ and 4 million homes are uninsured.”
Lots of homeowners facts and statistics at the I.I.I. website.