How to save on homeowners insurance – MarketWatch

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Homeowners insurance rates can vary drastically. While some factors, such as your location and your home’s size, may be out of your control, there are a handful of ways you can reduce your bill. 
Read on to learn how to save money on homeowners insurance in a few simple steps.
One of the best ways to lower homeowners insurance costs is to do your homework before buying a policy. As you explore homeowners insurance providers, be sure to take these steps:
One of the most significant ways to save on home insurance and lower your car insurance rates is to bundle these policies with the same provider.  
If a company offers multiple types of insurance (including pet insurance), you may be able to lock in lower rates by buying multiple policies from them. For example, insurance companies offer anywhere between 5% and 25% off premiums when you purchase your home and auto insurance from them.
Most homeowners insurance companies offer more than just multi-policy discounts. If you do your homework, you won’t leave any discounts on the table.
You could save money by doing something as simple as switching to paperless billing or making automated payments with some providers. In some cases, you can get more obscure home insurance discounts, such as a nonsmoker discount or a reduced rate for being a part of an association or membership organization.
Your deductible is the dollar amount you are responsible for paying before your coverage kicks in when you file a claim. By choosing a higher deductible, you can lower your monthly or annual homeowners insurance bill. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay more money out-of-pocket in the event of a claim.
But before you increase your home insurance deductible, it’s critical to budget for it. Make sure you have enough money set aside in savings to cover an emergency claim.
When you protect your home from fire, theft and natural disasters, you reduce the risk of having to file a claim in the future.
Taking these steps to shield your home from costly claims can also earn you lower home insurance rates. For example, you may be able to save money on premiums and protect your home by using fire-resistant roofing materials or adding storm shutters.
You could also unlock discounts for adding home security features such as deadbolt locks, security or alarm systems, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and fire alarms. Get quotes on these products and talk to an insurance agent to see how these features could save you money.
As with credit cards and other financial products, your credit history can affect your home insurance costs. Most insurance companies factor your credit score into your premiums — the higher your credit score, the better rates you may be eligible for.
To improve and maintain a good credit score (670 or higher), focus on making payments on time, keeping your credit use as low as possible and checking your score regularly.
Your home insurance needs and the value of your belongings can change with time. As such, it’s crucial to review your homeowners insurance policy annually to ensure your amount of coverage and deductibles are still a good fit. 
You should also take stock of your possessions and reevaluate any endorsements you’ve added to your policy, such as a floater offering additional protection for a piece of fine jewelry or a computer that you perhaps no longer own. Likewise, you should factor in home renovations and upgrades, as they can change the value of your home and your coverage needs.
It’s a good idea to talk to your home insurance agent about changes to your policy and coverage needs.
While homeowners insurance is designed to protect you and your home, excessive home insurance claims can lead to increased rates.
Even though a minor instance might be covered, filing a claim might not always be the wisest move for your wallet. Insurers often reward you with discounts for being claims-free for a specific number of years.
When deciding whether or not to file a homeowners insurance claim, weigh the cost of paying out-of-pocket against the impact the claim could have on your home insurance premiums.
It may be worth getting rid of the trampoline your kids have outgrown or the swimming pool with little more than leaves floating in it.
Liability insurance is one of the key coverages of your home insurance policy, and it protects you from legal and medical bills if anyone is hurt on your property. Structures that increase the risk of a claim, such as pools, trampolines and playground equipment, can drive up insurance costs. 
Contact your insurance company to see if adding protective features such as a fence or removing these structures could lower your rates.
Purchasing a home ⁠— and all the products and services that come with it ⁠— is a significant financial undertaking. While you can’t do much about your mortgage payments, you can take steps to lower the cost of your homeowners insurance. Understanding how home insurance works and putting in a little legwork, you can unlock savings opportunities and better protect your home.
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