This post is part of a series of insurance blogs
on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of local independent agents
and aimed at helping you understand insurance coverage and other important issues.
If you feel like you're paying more for homeowners insurance than you used to, you might be right. Over the past 20 years, these rates have increased over 50% - and U.S. homeowners pay an average of $952 annually, according to ValuePenguin, which provides consumers with research and guidance on financial topics.
You want to make sure your home is protected, but you don't want to pay more than you have to, either. Here are eight things you can do to make sure you get the best deal on homeowners insurance:
- Shop around. Rates can vary dramatically from one company to another - and there are hundreds of different insurers that offer homeowners insurance. If you haven't researched the market in the past 24 months, it makes sense to shop. Your local independent agent can help, and since they aren't tied to one insurance company, they can offer you plenty of options.
- Increase your deductible. Many policies are written with a $500 deductible, but depending on where you live, you could save 10% or more by increasing your deductible to $1,000. This one change can help significantly reduce or even eliminate your annual premium increase altogether. And some people opt for even higher deductibles, all the way up to $5,000 - but they need to be diligent about keeping funds set aside in case they need to file a claim.
- Don't file small claims. If a homeowners claim would cost less than $1,000, it probably doesn't make sense to file it. Insurance companies track customer claims, and even a claim of a few hundred dollars could cause a client to miss out on "loss-free" discounts.
- Bundle with auto or umbrella insurance. When you buy insurance for your home and car from the same company, you usually get a significant discount on both policies. Other policies, such as umbrella insurance, might qualify, too.
- Maintain good credit. In most states, insurers offer discounts to applicants with high credit scores, so keeping a solid credit history can lower your insurance costs. To protect your credit rating, pay your bills on time, keep outstanding balances low, and monitor your credit report regularly.
- Review your policy carefully. You likely are eligible for a number of discounts and credits, so make sure you get them! Homeowners often receive discounts for having newer homes, multiple policies with the same company, good credit and a clean claims history. Even your proximity to a fire hydrant might save you money. And if your situation has changed, let your insurer know immediately as you could be eligible for even more discounts.
- Look into group insurance discounts. Some organizations offer special insurance programs to employees, usually with discounts of 5% to 10% and features such as payment via payroll deduction. You also may qualify for discounts if you are a member of a union, auto club, alumni association, or professional group.
- Improve your home security and safety. Deadbolts, burglar alarms, and other security devices are all ways to keep your home safe and potentially lower your insurance costs. For example, an alarm that connects to police, fire, or other monitoring stations can save you as much as 20% on your homeowners premium.
Keep in mind that different companies offer different discounts, and your options might vary depending on where you live. An local independent agent
who knows your market can help you find the best coverage at the best price for your needs.
Stephen Donohue and Atlantic Insurance & Benefit Company
Stephen Donohue has dedicated 25 years of his life to helping businesses and individuals find the right insurance. After five years as a manager at the nation's fasting growing health insurance company, Steve became an independent insurance agent. Today, Atlantic Insurance & Benefit Company
, the Nashua, NH based independent insurance agency he founded in 1998, helps individuals and businesses navigate the complex world of insurance. Steve and his team sell a wide range of insurance including auto, home, health,life, and commercial. Steve is an insurance writer, guest lecturer, and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. He and his wife Regis have 3 daughters and live in Nashua, NH.