10 Surprising and Effective Ways to Slash Your Home Insurance, Experts Say
There are quick fixes as well as larger repairs you can invest in.
Home insurance is one of those things you hate paying for until you actually need it: In the event of a broken pipe, fire, or other unexpected events on your property, you're glad to have coverage to help with repair costs. But while it's a necessity for most, you don't want to overpay for home insurance—and if you've seen a recent uptick in your rates, you're not alone. In a recent survey performed by Assurance IQ, 63 percent of Americans said their home insurance premiums increased over this past year.
According to Matt Hagen, licensed insurance agent and director of property and casualty operations for Assurance IQ, we can thank the high cost of repairs and an uptick in extreme weather-related claims for this uptick. But if you've found yourself surprised by the numbers on your home insurance renewal, you might be looking for ways you can reduce it—and in that case, our experts have you covered. Read on for their 10 top suggestions for cutting costs.
Ask for discounts.
Even if you're shy about asking for discounts at the grocery or department store, you shouldn't be when it comes to insurance, as these are typically some of the easiest ways to save. You may already qualify for them and not even realize it.
If you live close to a fire station or even a fire hydrant, let your insurance company know and inquire about a discount, Melissa Zimbelman, real estate agent and founder of LUXE International Realty & Property Management, says. If you're in the military, ask your current insurer if you qualify for any savings—or get a quote from USAA, which also offers discounts for current spouses, children, siblings, and parents of U.S. military members, she says.
Angel Conlin, chief insurance officer at Kin Insurance, notes that you should also let your insurance company or agent know if your home is part of a homeowners association (HOA), is in a mobile park, or if it's part of a secured community, as these could also score you a discount.
"The logic here is that HOAs and mobile home parks typically have quality standards for home maintenance. A well-managed home may have fewer liability exposures. Plus, these communities may have neighborhood watches that decrease break-ins," Conlin explains. "Similarly, a home in a secured community means it has a single entry, 24-hour security patrol, pass-key gates at all entrances, or 24-hour manned gates. Homes in these communities are more difficult to burglarize and, therefore, more attractive to insurance companies."
Improve the safety and security of your home.
In the event of a break-in, your insurance should cover any losses as part of your personal property protection. But if you take a few extra steps to improve your home's security and potentially prevent this kind of situation, you might be able to save some money.
"You may also be able to get a discount if you take steps to improve the safety and security of your home," Hagen says. "Replacing smoke detectors, sprinklers, and locks on exterior doors and windows could impact how insurers perceive the risks to your home. Installing a security system can also help you land a discount."
Conlin adds that the biggest price reductions typically occur when you install security systems with motion sensors and cameras. She also notes that some companies will only offer discounts if you go for a central alarm system.
Another way to save yourself some cash, albeit a small amount, is by managing your policy online as opposed to receiving documents via mail.
"In an effort to reduce carbon footprints and paper use, many insurance companies (Kin included) are encouraging policyholders to go green and manage their policies online," Conlin says. "In many cases, this is a $10 discount—not bad for something you might've been planning to do regardless."
Increase your deductible.
According to experts, the quickest way to really see a dip in your home insurance premium may seem counterintuitive: raising your deductible.
"A deductible is the amount you pay for damages or repairs before insurance pays the rest," Hagen explains. "For example, if a fire causes $5,000 of damage to your home and you have a $500 deductible, you will be responsible for $500 of repair costs while your insurance will cover the other $4,500. Most insurance companies are willing to lower your premium if you raise your deductible."
However, he offers a word of caution before springing for the highest available option.
"Make sure you have enough money in an emergency savings account to cover the higher deductible," Hagen warns. "If you don't, you might wind up with critical repairs that you can't afford."
Weather-proof your home.
Hagen also notes the importance of identifying and performing any repairs to potentially lower your home insurance.
"While this step isn't likely to save you money upfront, given you'll need to pay for the upgrades, it could lower your premiums and potentially increase the value of your home over time," he says. "Ask your insurance company what discounts might be available."
According to Kelly Rush, director of the Home Vertical at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, this could include "weather-proofing" your home.
"In some cases, upgrading your home's construction and materials to reduce the amount of damage it could sustain in extreme weather or even a natural disaster can provide cost savings," he says.
In Florida, specifically, if you make your home and roof more wind-resistant, that's the "number one way to save big bucks on homeowners insurance," Conlin says.
Rush also recommends "shopping insurance carriers" and reviewing different quotes and options with a trusted agent. If you're not happy with your current premium, or facing a steep increase this year, shop around to find a more competitive rate.
"Each insurer prices risk differently," Hagen says, noting that in the Assurance IQ survey, researchers found less than half of people (47 percent) plan to shop for quotes, even though "it's in your best interest" to do so annually.
While you're reviewing your policy, you should also consider bundling your home insurance with your auto insurance (if you own a car).
"Most insurers offer discounts [when you bundle], and you could see savings of 10 to 15 percent," Hagen says. "Working with a trusted agent who sells policies from multiple insurance companies can help streamline this process."
Improve your credit score.
This tip might take a little bit longer, but it'll be worth it if you can get your credit score up a bit.
"Insurers review your credit history to help determine your premium. As you might have guessed, a good credit score may help you nab lower home insurance rates," Conlin says.
Paying your bills on time, keeping your credit utilization under 30 percent of your available balance, paying off your credit card balance every month, and not opening new lines of credit can all impact this number, she says.
Install water sensors.
The last tip on this list is to install water and climate sensors. This is another project that could become something of an investment, but it can also save you money on your insurance and save you from a real disaster in the future.
"If you've ever had your pipes burst or returned home to a flooded basement, you know how serious water damage can be. Water issues are common, too: Homes are two times more likely to experience water damage than fire and theft combined," Conlin says.
She continues, "These sensors can alert you to water damage before it gets out of hand, sparing your home from expensive damage and decreasing the chance of filing claims. The fewer claims you have, the cheaper your homeowners insurance is."
Talk to an agent ahead of your renewal.
It's important to keep in mind that discounts and savings options will vary by state and insurance company, but regardless, insurance experts recommend reviewing your policy annually.
"If you qualify for a lower rate, you'd hate to have waited and lost out on the savings," Zimbelman says. "It will never cost you anything to get quotes. Even if you are mid-policy term, the new company you choose will assist you in canceling the old policy, getting a refund from the old company, and getting the new one set up."
If you are planning to way for renewal, request a new, full home insurance quote from your agent about 90 days in advance. This will also allow for "minimal coverage disruption," Rush says.
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