My new homeowner’s insurance bill arrived in the mail this week. The premium has skyrocketed 51 percent in a single year. And, that’s on top of a significant rise the year before. It’s getting expensive to insure my home.
It’s easy to understand why insurance companies have jacked up their rates. Claims are skyrocketing due to mold. Insurance companies are broke after paying for the terrorists attacks and are trying to recoup. It’s been, to say the least, a challenging economy for the last three years.
If you’ve had insurance premium sticker shock recently, you’re probably wondering what to do. The bottom line is, you have to have homeowner’s insurance. It really isn’t optional. So, cut costs where you can. Here are a few ways to shave a few bucks on your insurance premium:
Shop around for the best deal. It’s possible to purchase homeowner’s and automobile insurance online from a number of reputable companies. (Check out the company you choose at JDPower.com and at the Better Business Bureau site, BBB.org.) Use your computer to shop the Internet for the best deals and compare quotes. You should also talk to your insurance agent about the rise in your insurance premium and discuss what, if any, options are available.
Raise your deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your annual premium. The only problem is that you don’t want such a high deductible (like $10,000) that it’s too expensive for you to fix a problem when it occurs. Whatever deductible you choose (whether it’s $250 or $1,000), you should take that amount of money and keep it in a separate bank account so you know you have it in case of an emergency.
Improve your credit score. The latest thing in home insurance premium pricing is to pull a copy of your credit history and see how high your score is. The higher your score, the better your credit, and the lower your insurance premium. Although consumer advocates are screaming “foul,” insurance industry observers say consumers with higher credit scores apparently have fewer claims on their homeowner’s policies, a trend that has been tracked for the last five years. If you don’t know what your credit history looks like, you can get a free copy at eloan.com, or pay $12.95 and get a copy of your credit history, credit score and free advice on improving your credit score from myFICO.com.
Make your home more secure. Many insurance companies will lower your premium 5 percent if you install a home security system. When shopping around, ask the insurer what you’d have to do to qualify for the discount. If you have trees or bushes that butt up against your windows or walls of your home, you might hire a landscaper and trim them back. Thieves like bushes because they can hide in them.
Get a senior’s discount if you’re over 55. Many insurance companies perceive seniors as being less of a risk when it comes to homeowner’s and automobile insurance premiums. With homeowner’s insurance, seniors tend to be around more, discouraging thieves and taking better care of their homes. Ask the insurance agent how old you have to be to quality for the discount.
Purchase your homeowner’s and automobile policy from the same company. You might be eligible for a discount of up to 15 percent.
Take special classes offered by many insurance companies. Insurance companies will often offer home safety or automobile safety classes. If you take one of these courses, you might receive a discount of up to 5 percent on your premium.
Insure your home, not the land it sits on. Sometimes, you can buy too much insurance, which is why the premium is so expensive. The concept here is that even if your home is completely destroyed, the land value will remain intact. So, if you paid $200,000 for your home, some of that purchase price represents the value of the land itself. What you need to do is determine how much it will cost to rebuild your home from the ground up. Ask your insurance company to send out an appraiser who can help you figure out what rebuilding would cost. To double-check the numbers, talk to a local builder to get more information on building costs in your area.
Stop smoking. Almost all insurance companies give discounts to homeowners who don’t smoke, because the risk of a fire starting from a cigarette ember is so high. In addition to saving you money on your homeowner’s policy, you’ll save an additional $1,460 per year for each pack-a-day you give up, you’ll save on dry cleaning bills, and you may also receive a discount on your medical insurance.
Stick around. If you’ve had your coverage with the same insurance company for years, and never or hardly ever had a claim, ask your agent or the company representative is they have a discount for longevity. Some insurance companies will give discounts of up to 5 or 6 percent if you’ve been a policy holder for six years or more.
Bottom line is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.