So you spend thousands of dollars and countless hours building your yurt, and then move everything you own into it. You want to insure that yurt. It’s your home—your life! the things you love! But you start calling around to get quotes from home insurance companies and the response is…disheartening. The calls go like this. Me: I’m calling to see about getting a home insurance policy for a new yurt. Insurance agent: Oh, we don’t insure yurts. (And that’s if they know what a yurt is.)
One memorable call I had went like this:
Me: Do you provide home insurance policies for yurts?
Them: For what?
Me: A yurt.
Them: Umm, can you spell that?
Them, after typing into a search engine: Oh, these are interesting…(reading) Traditional Mongolian dwellings…
Me: Yeah, they’re pretty cool. We just built one and moved in.
Them: Hmm. I’ll have to get back to you.
After six or seven calls to insurance companies around our area, I realized yurt insurance might be an issue. I got on some yurt forums and, sure enough, there were many people with this same question: How do I insure a yurt? Eventually I tracked down, through these forums, the name of one particular insurance agent at one small, independent agency who *supposedly* had insured a few yurts before. The post was more than a year old. And he happened to be in northern Vermont, a few hours north of us. What a coincidence! So I called.
When I presented my inquiry he audibly sighed. He asked what state I was in, and when I told him Vermont, he said, “Oh, okay,” and his attitude shifted. The reason for his sigh (and the reason I’m withholding his agency’s name, as much as you might want it, I swear I’m not being coy), is that he gets numerous calls from out-of-staters, people building yurts not in Vermont. He chuckled and said, “Some years ago my name apparently got dropped on some message board somewhere, and now I get calls from all over the U.S. from people wanting me to insure their yurts.” Problem is, he can’t do it. His agency only works in Vermont. (So I’m withholding his name to save both your time and his.)
I told him the coverage I was looking for and he told me the sort of policy he could offer. (We have a dwelling/fire policy and a $500K liability policy. Dwelling/fire covers standard home things, like fires, but doesn’t cover things like storm damage because, from the insurance company’s perspective, we’re living in a tent, and you don’t want to insure a tent against damage from, say, strong winds and fallen trees. You’d only make that bet if you have a gambling problem.) Did he need to come see the yurt in person? No, he said—“the money I’ll make on this policy isn’t worth the gas I’d pay driving down to you.”
I love honesty. Keep honesty in mind as we continue.
If you need insurance for a yurt outside Vermont, my recommendations are two:
Persistence in Capitalism: It might take you five calls, it might take you thirty. Keep your spirits up. Remember that insurance is a capitalist’s business and capitalists love money. There is someone out there who wants your money. You just have to convince them it’s a good opportunity for them, that the risk-to-reward is in their favor.
Honesty with Human Capitalists: Back to honesty. We should admit that capitalists are humans, too. And I think honesty is often the best policy with humans. There’s at least one blog post out there that suggests you might get yurt insurance by being tip-toe deliberate in how you approach an insurance company. The post suggests you choose a company that doesn’t send its agents for a home visit, and that in your interactions with them you refer to your yurt as a “home” and the home structure as “wood frame” and etc. The post suggests that without lying you can be careful in your description of your home and get an insurance policy this way. Now don’t get me wrong—I’m all for gaming systems. Capitalists are human but capitalism is inhuman, etc. (I just thought of that now. What do you think? Maybe that idea has been had before.) But I also know that the world we live in has, in addition to capitalists, an abundance of lawyers. And I’m skeptical of how your case would stand up in court when your yurt burns down and you go knocking on the insurance company’s door for an insurance payout on your woodframe 314-square-foot “home.”
So I would suggest being up front, and making yourself as human as you can. Make yourself not a policy inquiry, but a person with a yurt home seeking to insure the home you’ve built for yourself. Go local. Make connection. Be honest. If possible, go talk in person. Because here’s the issue: insurance underwriters are unwilling to insure structures they’re unfamiliar with, structures they’ve never insured before. The understanding of the risk factor is nonexistent. It will take a critical mass of inquiries to put yurts on the insurance radar as a market insurers should get into.
Which brings us back to capitalism and markets: Aim to persuade. This is a person you’re talking to (the agent), and they need the underwriter (a company) to sign off. People talk in people terms. Companies talk in money terms. Aim to persuade them that there is in fact a market for this, and there could be some benefit for them to become a company known for insuring alternative living styles—yurts, tiny homes, etc.
I admit, this is theoretical to me. We lucked out and found a random name on an internet forum who just happened to work in Vermont. So damn lucky. I admit that. But this is the approach I think might work—and at the very least, increasing the number of inquiries for yurt insurance should make a company think again about what they will and won’t insure.
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This post must be lacking something. Email us with more questions or suggestions or input or your own experience finding yurt insurance. We’d love to hear from you!
thatyurt (at) gmail (dot) com
>>If you want, check out some thoughts on staying warm in a yurt in Vermont winter