Our new list of the 9 best ways to save on your home insurance. Drum roll please....
Raise your "all other perils" deductible
A deductible is way for you to share in the loss. We often say it is your "skin in the game". A deductible is the amount that you have to pay of a covered property claim. For example: You have a kitchen fire and the cabinets and the items in the kitchen have to be replaced. The adjuster of the insurance company says the total cost is $10,000. If you home insurance policy has a $1,000 all other perils deducible then you'll received a check from the insurance company for $9000. The $1000 deductible is your contribution to the claim. If you raise the deductible then your homeowners insurance premium will drop. But be careful because you need to be able to afford a higher deductible before making the leap.
Raise your wind & hail deductible
In wind prone areas like the coastal communities of South Carolina most home insurance policies have some sort of wind and hail deductible. So instead of the "all other perils" deductible any wind or hail claim will have its own deductible. In these coastal communities a majority of the premium paid for a homeowners policy (one that includes Wind & Hail) is for the wind coverage. By raising the wind & hail deductible you can save on the premium.
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.
Overinsured ? What you paid for the house may not be equal to the cost to rebuild
Most people don't understand the difference in the market value of a house and the replacement cost. What you need to determine for insurance is "what is the cost to replace"? This can be $100 to $600 per square foot and the value of the lot is not a factor. All that needs to considered is the cost to replace the house if it were totally destroyed. So if you have a home in downtown Charleston that is a Charleston single house design built in the early 1800's what's the cost to rebuild? If the house is located South of Broad then the market value may be in the millions. Is that what you use to insured the house? No. What is used is based on the cost to reconstruct that house. A 2000 square foot Charleston house that has been completely renovated and is in pristine condition may cost $300 per square foot to rebuild. The insurance then would be for $600,000 and not the market value of $3,000,000. Why the difference? The market value of the house is based on what a buyer would pay for the house including the lot. The lot alone for that house is extremely valuable but not insurable. The house may burn down but the land won't. Check the value of the house based on the cost to rebuild and you may be able to lower your premium.
The land under your house isn't at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don't include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. If you do, you will pay a higher premium than you should.
Buy package policies
The wise insurance buyer will use the same insurance agency for their home, auto, personal umbrella liability and boat. This allows the agent the ability to maximize discounts. Some companies provide for discounts if you have your home and auto with the same agent and not necessarily if the agent has both with the same insurance company. The only way to save the maximum amount is to use your agent like Triest Agency to insure all of your possessions.
Make the house more disaster resistant
The SC Safe Home Program administered by our SC Department of Insurance provides grant money to individuals who make their homes more resistant to wind / hurricane damage. What are some of the mitigation measures available?
Bracing the gable ends
Secondary Water Barriers
The South Carolina Insurance Department (DOI) provides an outstanding website for consumers. There is a page of homeowner resources that you should look at. The DOI is a government agency under the Governor's Cabinet. It is managed by a Director who is appointed by the Governor. Triest Agency and its producers (agents) are licensed with the DOI.
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.
Add a security and fire system
Every home should have an alarm system for both security and fire. The best type of system is one that automatically contacts the authorities in case of a problem. Almost all insurance companies provide a discount for having one of these.
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.
Keep a good credit score
Like it or not, when it comes to insurance, your credit report is up for grabs. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), states that insurance companies have a ”permissible purpose” to look at your credit information without your permission. And since insurers have found that credit history is a reliable predictor of how risky someone is to insure, they use that information to determine whether or not to offer you a policy, as well as how much to charge for your premium.
Don't file small claims. A home that has a claims frequency is frowned upon by home insurance companies. They look at the house as a new claim ready to happen. This works hand in hand with keeping your home in pristine condition.
Roof.... If the roof is over 10 years old then have a roofing contractor inspect the roof and consider replacement if it needs to be replaced. Don't put it off because you're asking for a claim.
Plumbing... If the plumbing is old then have a plumber inspect the house and make necessary repairs.
Trees..... If there are trees with limbs hanging over your house then have tree expert cut them back. Trees can cause substantial damage if the tree or even large limbs hit the roof.
Swimming pools... If you have a pool then make sure it has a fence surrounding it or it is covered. Avoid a tragic accident.
Dogs .... I think dogs get a bad rap but some dogs do bite. A dog bite claim can be in the tens of thousand of dollars. If you have a dog that may bite then keep them in a fenced yard and protect visitors.
Age - newer homes are discounted more than older homes
Not much you can do here if you want to lower the premium for your existing home but if you're in the market for a new house then this piece of advice will save you substantially. Most insurance companies discount the policy for the first several years for home insurance for a new home. Just makes sense because new homes are inspected and everything is new and tip top.