Even Insurers Need a Zombie (Property) Survival Guide

By Michael Gannon April 11, 2013

Several months into the new year, indicators continue to point to an improving housing market. However, a recent national survey discovered that more than 300,000 abandoned — or “zombie” —properties exist nationwide, according to an article on BusinessInsider.com. And that number may go up sharply over the coming months, presenting a challenge not only to the fragile housing recovery but to insurers as well.

RealtyTrac, a real estate information company in Irvine, California, states that the number of homes in foreclosure or bank-owned totaled 1.5 million nationally in the first quarter of 2013, up 9 percent compared with a year ago. More and more homeowners have opted simply to abandon their foreclosed homes, leaving the properties to fall into disrepair. Many of those zombie homes have now become neighborhood eyesores, havens for criminal activity, or both.

Currently, Florida tops the list of zombie properties, with more than 90,000 vacant homes in foreclosure, followed by Illinois and California, with more than 31,600 and 28,800 zombie properties, respectively. And with the nearly 11 million homeowners who currently owe more than their homes are worth, the number of zombie properties across the United States may not stop growing anytime soon.

Knowing that a property has entered foreclosure is important for insurers. According to an analysis by Verisk Underwriting using Foreclosure Alert and A-PLUS™ Property, there is a direct correlation between increased claims and properties in the foreclosure process.

Therefore, insurers face the challenge of maintaining up-to-date foreclosure information to measure and manage their risk accurately and take proactive steps to protect their company and their policyholders.

Verisk’s Foreclosure Alert  helps insurers identify and manage the risks of providing coverage on foreclosed properties by allowing them to monitor public information in real time, giving them a much-needed leg up in the zombie property apocalypse.

If you’re interested in learning how Foreclosure Alert can help you find your zombie properties, please call 1-800-888-4476 or send e-mail to underwriting@verisk.com.


Michael Gannon

Michael Gannon, director of Marketing for Verisk insurance solutions, is responsible for strategic marketing in support of Verisk underwriting auto and property solutions. Before joining Verisk, he held similar positions at Verisk’s Xactware and AIR Worldwide.