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Top 10 Ways to Save on home insurance
1. New Is Better -- Insurers really like newer homes. That's because it's less likely something will go wrong with the electrical, heating and plumbing systems. In addition, the structure itself is in better shape. Insurers offer discounts of as much as 8% to 15% if your residence is new.
2. Location, Location, Location -- Where do you live and what is your home made of? If you're in the Eastern United States, it's better from an insurance perspective to have a brick or masonry residence because such a structure has a greater resistance to wind damage. By contrast, frame homes are better in the earthquake-prone West. The right structure in the right region can save you 5% to 15%.
3. Insure the House, Not the Land -- Nobody is going to steal your land. Fire and high winds won't "destroy" it. As such, when deciding how much homeowners coverage to have, don't include the value of the land, only the value of the house and any other buildings on the property. If you include the value of the land, you're paying too much.
4. Better Safe(r) Than Sorry -- Smoke detectors, burglar alarms and deadbolt locks are usually worth discounts of at least 5%. You can get even bigger discounts, 15% to 20%, if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system or an alarm system that rings at the police station or a security company.
5. Don't Insure What You Don't Have -- Each year you should review your policy to see what coverage you have for your possessions. If you have made a major purchase, you will want to increase your limits of coverage, but what if you sell something or some things? You don't need as much coverage. Pay particular attention to items that are covered by endorsements or "floaters" to your policy, items such as jewelry and computer equipment.
6. Raise Your Deductible -- The deductible is the amount you pay before insurance kicks in if you have a claim. For example, if you have a $250 deductible and you file a claim for $1,000 in damage to your home, you pay the first $250 and your insurer pays the balance, $750. The higher the deductible you choose, the more you pay. Also, though, the higher deductible, the less you have to pay for your policy. Depending on the insurance company, you can save between 12% and 37% if you have a deductible of $500 to $5,000.
7. One Insurer, Multiple Policies -- Do you have an automobile insurance policy? If so, is it with the same insurance company that provides your homeowners insurance? If the answer's no, you're paying too much -- for both policies. Almost every insurance company that sells homeowners insurance wants its policyholders to also buy auto insurance from that company. These insurers offer so-called multi-policy discounts. Usually, these discounts are at least 10% -- and some insurers apply the discounts to both the auto and the homeowners/renters policy.
8. Don't Jump Around -- If you've been with an insurer for a while and you like that insurer, stay put. Some insurance companies automatically have discounts for policyholders who have been with the companies for a certain number of years. For example, 5% for at least three years, 10% for at least five years.
9. Where There's Smoke . . . -- There's fire. Smoking (unattended cigarette butts, etc.) produces more than 23,000 residential fires in this country each year. That's why some insurers have discounts if all the residents in a home are nonsmokers.
10. Group Discounts -- Some insurers offer discounts to certain business or alumni associations. If you are a member of such an association or associations, ask the director(s) of the association(s) if there are any insurance companies providing discounts to association members.