If you’re a homeowner, you’re familiar with home insurance. But did you know you can revisit your homeowners’ insurance policy each year to find ways to save? Nancy Mann Jackson finds five ways to lighten your home insurance bill.
If you own a home, homeowner’s insurance is a must—and it usually isn’t cheap. For many people, paying homeowner’s insurance is lumped in with a monthly mortgage payment, so they never think about how much they’re actually paying for it. But reducing your home insurance rate can reduce your monthly housing payment, leaving more money in your pocket at the end of each month. And while there are ways to lower your home insurance rate, they aren’t always obvious. So, homeowners have to be proactive to take advantage of savings on home insurance.
Here are five things you can do to take advantage of lower home insurance costs.
1. Shop around. If you haven’t yet purchased a home, consider the cost of insurance before you buy. If you purchase a home that’s within close proximity to fire hydrants and fire protection services, you could get a lower rate, as insurers look favorably on homes with those criteria, says Michael Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute. When you’ve chosen a home, Barry recommends shopping around for an insurer. “The U.S. homeowners insurance market is a competitive one and you’ll find wide variations when getting price quotes from different insurers,” he says. “Be sure, however, you also look to see how the coverages differ from company to company.” Not every insurance company will provide the same coverage — so when purchasing a policy for the first time or if you decide to switch insurers, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.
2. Review your policy annually. After most people purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy, they simply pay the premium each year and never look at the policy again unless they need to make a claim. But that’s usually a mistake. By reviewing your policy each year, you can see if your rate has changed or if you qualify for any new discounts. When you first purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy, your insurance agent is required to let you know about discounts you qualify for. But each year when you renew, there is no such obligation. It’s up to you to do your research, year in and year out. “Each year, your home insurer will almost always modify slightly your policy limits to reflect the cost of construction materials and labor in your neighborhood,” Barry says. “Both of these variables factor into pricing a policy.”
3. Increase your deductible. If you’ve been paying for a policy with a low deductible and you want to decrease your insurance rates, consider a higher deductible policy. Increasing your deductible, from $500 to $1,000, for instance, is “the fastest way to achieve premium savings,” Barry says.
4. Upgrade your home. You can also qualify for insurance discounts if you make changes to your home that improve safety or security. For instance, installing smoke detectors, burglar alarms, or dead-bolt locks can usually result in insurance discounts of at least 5 percent, Barry says. Other discounts are available if you upgrade your home in a way that makes it “better equipped to withstand a natural disaster,” Barry says. For instance, that might include a new wind-resistant roof or reinforced windows. But keep in mind that when you make cosmetic upgrades to your home—new kitchen cabinets or adding a sunroom, for instance—check with your insurance agent to make sure your updates are covered, and don’t be surprised if your rate increases to cover the updates.
5. Bundle policies. Insurance companies insure much more than homes, and they want your business on as many lines as they can get it. For that reason, many insurers will reduce your homeowner’s premium if you also purchase your car insurance or other types of insurance from them. So consider moving your life, auto, or other policy to the same company, and then ask for a discount.
As you look for ways to cut expenses, consider implementing these ideas to save money on your annual home insurance bill.
Freelance journalist Nancy Mann Jackson writes regularly about personal finance, small business, health care, and education. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, CNNMoney.com, Bankrate, Working Mother, and many other publications. She lives in Alabama with her husband and their three boys.
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