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10 Things You Need to Know About Homeowner's Insurance

Stocks in this article: ALL TRV CB

Story corrected, as Travelers and Chubb distribute their products and services through independent insurance agents.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- During this time of fear over the U.S. and world economies, homeowner's insurance may not be at the top of your agenda, but you can get creamed if you don't at least learn the basics.

Although many of the items discussed below are of prime importance to home buyers, most apply to anyone who already owns a home, and the bottom line is that it pays to have a detailed discussion with your insurance agent once in a while, to identify ways to save money that you haven't considered. It also pays to speak to other agents, who might offer less expensive coverage from other carriers.

For first-time home buyers, especially in certain areas prone to floods, earthquakes or hurricanes, it's very important to get a handle on homeowner's insurance before you even place a bid on a house, or you could be in for a very nasty surprise one or two years down the road.

Depending on how long the previous owner has owned the home, he or she may be paying a much lower insurance premium than you will face as the new buyer. There are a variety of reasons for this, as we discuss.

The local scene is also of prime importance, especially if you are moving to a new area. Local building codes and proximity to water also factor heavily in insurance premiums.

Read on for 10 important things you need to know to save money on homeowner's insurance.

1. Research insurance premiums before placing a bid on a home.

If you move from the Northeast to a state around the Gulf Coast, for example, your insurance costs can increase several times over.

Don't rely on your real estate agent for an estimate of what it will cost to insure the house you wish to buy. The previous owner's insurance premium may have no relation to the premium you will have to pay.

For one thing, insurers are trying to pull out of some states, and may be unwilling to provide a policy for the next owner of a house. That means you will be paying more than the previous owner.

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