Whether your home is still mortgaged or free and clear, having homeowners insurance is an essential part of your financial well being, providing assurance that if something should happen to your home, or the contents therein, money will be there to rebuild or replace what was damaged or lost. Still, as important as homeowners insurance is, there’s no need to be paying top dollar for your coverage. Here are some ideas to help you save money on your policy:
Premiums and coverage vary widely depending on the insurance company you select, the age and structure of your home, and where you live, so it’s vital that you do some comparison shopping before you commit to anything. How do you find this information without making a thousand phone calls? You could consult your friends and colleagues, but the most efficient method is to use the Internet, where there are sites that offer free rate quotes from multiple insurance companies that serve your area. One you have information in hand, you can check each insurer’s track record with your state’s department of insurance or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), which has information about the number of consumer complaints that have been logged, in addition to information on rates.
Raise Your Deductible
Just as with auto insurance, the deductible on a homeowners policy is the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company makes a payout when a claim is filed. In most cases, the higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be. In other words, a deductible of $5,000 can mean a savings of more than 33% on your actual insurance premiums, though going up this high is only recommended if you have significant savings to draw on in the event you actually do file a claim. Most people split the difference, taking a deductible that is higher than the minimum, but still manageable. A deductible of $1,000, for example, is much easier to pay should the need arise, but will still save you almost 25%.
One Company = Multiple Discounts
One way to save significant amounts of money on insurance premiums is to bundle your home, auto and life insurance with one company. By doing this, you are likely to receive discounts on all three policies, and you’ll also only have one number to keep track of, in case of claims. In addition to saving money just by bundling, you may earn loyalty discounts, as well, if you stick with the same company for several years.
Insure the Home, not the Land
In many cases, the land around your home is actually worth more than the structure itself, especially if the home is old and the lot is large. Since major disasters almost never threaten the land itself, you may wish to insure just your home. If your home is financed, you may not be able to adjust your policy this way, but if you have no mortgage, it can be a significant source of savings.
Home Security Saves Money, Too
Most insurance companies offer discounts for common safety features and devices. Among these are fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, dead-bolt locks, and burglar alarms, especially if they’re monitored. In addition, installing a sprinkler system can also lower your insurance premiums. Not all smoke detectors and alarm systems are equal, however, so before investing in such things, check with your insurance company to see what they recommend.
In addition to security measures, making your home more disaster-resistant can save you money, as well. You should do the math first, to make sure you’re not spending more than you’re likely to save, but in many cases, reinforcing your roof, adding protection against earthquakes, or installing storm shutters can reduce your insurance payments.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Although many people – and some state legislatures – believe the practice is unfair, a significant number of insurance companies still consider your credit score when quoting and setting rates. Maintaining good credit, then, isn’t just a good idea, but can also save you money on insurance.
While the tips listed here are all valid ways to save money on homeowners insurance they are not the only ways to reduce your premiums. Discounts vary as much as rates do, so you should always ask if there are any others that may help lower your payments. Retired people, for example, often get reduced rates because they have more time to devote to home maintenance.
Finally, it’s important to remember that premiums should never be the sole basis of choosing an insurance company. Compare the actual coverage limits, as well. Read through all the fine print to know how the claim process works, and check to see how well the insurer you prefer is rated with regard to customer service.
Homeowners insurance is a necessary debt, but by being a savvy shopper, and knowing how to find discounts, you can reduce what you spend on premiums, and still enjoy your home.