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How to Get a Discount on Your Homeowner’s Insurance

by Samia S. Morgan

Many factors have impacted the Property and Casualty Insurance market lately and homeowners are the ones taking the hit. It is not only getting harder to get comprehensive homeowner policies but it is also becoming increasingly expensive.

However, there are some steps that you can take today that can help you not only get a better rate or a policy discount, but will actually serve to better protect your home and your belongings from loss.

Whether you are a first time home buyer or you have owned your home for many years, you should definitely shop around and do your homework on the insurance companies who write homeowner’s policies in your area. Discounts will vary by company and by the city, state or region you live in. Here are some of our recommendations:

  • Home security system
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Sprinkler system
  • Dead-bolt locks
  • Handrails for both interior exterior steps and stairs

Additionally, your deductible plays a role in your premium rate – if you raise your deductible by $1000, you can save nearly 25% on your annual policy. Additionally, many companies offer discounts if you place both your home and auto coverage with them or if you own more than one property.

Additional ways to save:

  • Senior discounts
  • Association or employer discounts
  • Electronic payments
  • Non-smoker

Don’t forget to stay on top of your credit scores – it has an impact on all of your insurance rates. Also, be sure to evaluate your home’s value and the contents that are insured every year – if you make changes you may need to increase or decrease the replacement value, which will impact your premium. Above all, take an active role in your insurance protection. Make sure you keep up with safety features, shop rates and keep up with both your credit and your inventory – you’ll save year to year and in the long run.

If you have been happy with your current home insurance company, let us know! Also if you receive any discounts that we might not have listed, please share! 

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Common Property Insurance Claims

by Samia S. Morgan

Did you know that water damage is the most common (and costly) homeowners’ property insurance claim? Keep in mind, you don’t have to live in a flood zone to be hit by this kind of property loss – roof leaks, bursting pipes and drainage issues are also contributing factors to water damage in your home. Does your policy adequately cover this kind of loss?

Don’t get caught short if your home suffers any kind of material damage, do your homework when you select your insurance company and policy. Property insurance claims vary based on geography and even neighborhood, so it is also important to understand what the risks are for your address,

According to Allstate Insurance Company, below are some common types of property claims.
• Hail
• Water
• Wind
• Theft
• Physical damage (other)
 
Each area is different so be sure that you understand the specific risks associated with your neighborhood and that the policy you choose protects you from those kinds of damages.

Allstate offers a great tool called the Common & Costly Claims, check it out on their website www.allstate.com. Simply put in your zip code and the tool offers the top five property claims and the average cost by zip. This tool can help you determine the kind of policy or rider that you may need to make sure your home is safe and that your assets are protected.

It’s also a good idea to work with an agent so that you understand exactly what your policy covers; and in the event of a claim, how to recover the full value of your belongings or real property. Certain policies also cover temporary housing or living expenses for catastrophic loss- make sure you take full advantage of the premiums you pay!

 

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Saving On Homeowners Insurance

by Samia S. Morgan

There are many costs involved when you own a home. From repairs, upkeep and insurance it all adds up. Homeowners insurance can be a big part of your budget but the price you pay for your homeowners insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here are some things to consider when buying homeowners insurance.

1. Do your homework and shop around

Check with several different companies for the best rates and what type of service they offer. You can look online for different companies and their rates quickly to compare. Check with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (www.naic.org) for information to help you choose an insurer in your state, including complaints. States often make information available on typical rates charged by major insurers and many states provide the frequency of consumer complaints by company.

Also check consumer guides, insurance agents, companies and online insurance quote services. This will give you an idea of price ranges and tell you which companies have the lowest prices. But don't consider price alone. The insurer you select should offer a fair price and deliver the quality service you would expect if you needed assistance in filing a claim. So in assessing service quality, use the complaint information cited above and talk to a number of insurers to get a feeling for the type of service they give. Ask them what they would do to lower your costs.

2. Raise Your Deductible

Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim, according to the terms of your policy. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premiums. Nowadays, most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent. Remember, if you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for certain kinds of damage. If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible; if you live in a state vulnerable to hail storms, you may have a separate deductible for hail; and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy has a deductible.

3. Make payments electronically.

Many companies now charge up to $5 for mailed or phone payments, so have your payments automatically deducted to shave that cost. Sometimes the deductions can come from your credit card, so you don't have to worry if the money is in your bank account when payment time comes.

4. Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer

Some companies that sell homeowners, auto and liability coverage will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. But make certain this combined price is lower than buying the different coverages from different companies.

5. Make your home more disaster resistant

Find out from your insurance agent or company representative what steps you can take to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.

6. Improve your home security

You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire or other monitoring stations. These systems aren't cheap and not every system qualifies for a discount. Before you buy such a system, find out what kind your insurer recommends, how much the device would cost and how much you'd save on premiums.

7. Seek out other discounts

Companies offer several types of discounts, like senior discounts. Insurance companies have found that retired people stay at home more and spot fires sooner than working people. Older people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you're at least 55 years old and retired, you might qualify for a discount of as much as 10%. Some employers and professional associations administer group insurance programs that may offer a better deal than you can get elsewhere.

8. Maintain a good credit record

Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Insurers are increasingly using credit information to price homeowners insurance policies. In most states, your insurer must advise you of any adverse action, such as a higher rate, at which time you should verify the accuracy of the information on which the insurer relied. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don't obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis and have any errors corrected promptly so that your record remains accurate.

9. Stay with the same insurer

If you've kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive a special discount for being a long-term policyholder. Some insurers will reduce their premiums by 5 percent if you stay with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for six years or more. But make certain to periodically compare this price with that of other policies.

10. Review the limits in your policy and the value of your possessions at least once a year

You want your policy to cover any major purchases or additions to your home. But you don't want to spend money for coverage you don't need. If your five-year-old fur coat is no longer worth the $5,000 you paid for it, you'll want to reduce or cancel your floater (extra insurance for items whose full value is not covered by standard homeowners policies such as expensive jewelry, high-end computers and valuable art work) and pocket the difference.

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