Insurance for home protects homeowners and their personal items in case of damage caused by a storm or theft to more major issues such as a fire.
A house, townhome, or condo is typically the largest asset owned by a consumer. Insurance coverage provides homeowners the financial resources to repair or rebuild a home when there is massive damage.
Premiums for homeowner’s insurance have been rising annually. Since 2010 when the average annual premium for homeowners insurance was $909, costs have increased by 59%, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The average cost for homeowners insurance in the U.S. was $1,445 in 2020, said analysts at ValuePenguin.com, a New York-based consumer research website.
The premiums vary across each state, depending on their geography, weather and real estate values.
Homeowners should not just consider the cost of the premium when they are searching for an insurance provider. The top insurance providers are rated and reviewed from AM Best, Consumer Affairs and J.D. Power and ranked by Bankrate.
9 Ways to Save on Homeowners Insurance
Here are some tips on how to save money on your homeowner’s insurance premium.
1. Increase Your Deductible
While a $500 deductible sounds more affordable, increasing it to $1,000 will trigger a rate reduction, said P.J. Miller, a partner with Wallace & Turner Insurance in Springfield, Ohio.
Make sure you can pay the $1,000 deductible amount in case an emergency occurs. Stash the savings in a high yield savings account or CD so you have access to the money in case you need it.
“Be aware that you'll need to cover more of the cost in the instance of a claim, so be sure to set aside money, just in case,” he said.
Take a close look at your deductibles, said Holden Lewis, a home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based personal finance company. "Just remember that you'll need to have access to that deductible money in the event of a catastrophic claim. What if a tornado levels your house and knocks you out of your job? Will you be able to pay the deductible? You might have a deductible for basic coverage and a separate deductible for windstorm or earthquake damage."
2. Combine Your Coverage
Using the same insurance company can often save you hundreds of dollars each year. Check with your insurance provider if bundling your auto coverage with your home or renters' insurance policy can yield additional savings.
“Showing your loyalty to one insurer could help you land a discount, especially if you have multiple policies,” Miller said. “Renew your plan early and you could get a discount as well.”
3. Maintain a Good Credit Score
Paying your bills on time each month and not using too much debt will net you a higher credit score. Most insurance carriers use credit as a portion of the rate-setting process in states where it is permitted.
“While it is supposed to be a ‘portion’ of the rate calculation, most believe it plays a significant role in determining the price,” Miller said.
Maintaining a strong credit score is a crucial factor, said Ryan Papy, president of Keyes Insurance in Miami.
“In many cases, it can be helpful, but in other cases it is detrimental.”
4. Reduce Your Exposure to Perils by Upgrading Your Home
Install a security system, replace outdated plumbing and electrical systems, or install a new roof or energy efficient windows. Speak with your insurer to confirm the upgrades make financial sense in comparison to the discount you'll be receiving, Miller said.
Insurance discounts are available to homeowners with a smart home security system and also for flood protection devices, said Chris Basso, spokesman for Alarm.com, a Tysons, Virginia-based tech security company. The largest discounts, up to 20% in some cases, are most often available to savvy consumers who have professionally-monitored systems installed that manage security, water, smoke/carbon monoxide and video all on the same platform, he said.
“New home builders and multi-family housing developments increasingly use smart home systems to help owners save on insurance premiums,” Basso said. “Ask the smart home security provider for a certificate to give your insurer as easy proof to help activate your discounts.”
5. Speak With an Independent Insurance Agent
Insurance agencies work with a range of carriers and can "shop around" for homeowners to find a variety of insurance options, Miller said. There are often discounts and credits available within certain coverages and an agent could help you take advantage of these savings.
6. Buy Separate Flood, Windstorm and Earthquake Coverage
In Florida, homeowners must obtain windstorm insurance year round if they want the additional coverage, Papy said.
“There is a delay between purchasing coverage and when it becomes in force during hurricane season — with the exception of new purchases,” he said.
The deductible for your windstorm insurance is separate from your homeowners' coverage. Homeowners with mitigation features to protect the property such as shutters or single wrap roof attachments receive discounts.
Flood coverage starts 30 days after the premium is paid. Don't wait until the middle of the hurricane season to buy coverage. Hurricane season for the Atlantic basin runs from June 1 to November 30. If there's any possibility of flooding, don't forgo flood insurance, Lewis said. "That's not the place to save money," he said.
7. Ask for Discounts
Some insurers will provide discounts for senior citizens while others will offer them for homes that are located in gated communities, Papy said.
8. Shop Around
It’s a good idea to compare rates annually.
“The best advice is to shop around and compare quotes,” said Adam Johnson, an insurance analyst at Quote Wizard, a Seattle-based insurance comparison shopping website. “Taking the time to fill out extra quotes can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
9. Take Inventory of Your Personal Items
As everyone is self-isolating and working from home, now is a good time to take inventory of your possessions. Document your items, especially any recent purchases such as electronic equipment by taking photos of them and the receipts. Store them online in case you need to refer to them in the future.
“Taking inventory offers proof to your insurance companies of what you own in case it was ever damaged or lost,” he said.