Ahhh, premiums. One of the necessary and unpleasant evils of modern homeownership. You might only file a claim with your home insurance company once every ten, or even twenty years, but you’ll pay those premiums every month. If, like many other homeowners out there, you wish your premiums were lower, don’t fret.
Here are 25 of our favorite ways to shave costs off those pesky premiums.
1. Ask for a discount!
This sounds a bit obvious, but it’s an option that people sometimes overlook because they don’t know it’s there. All it takes is a quick talk with your agent. You could find out which discounts you’re currently eligible for, and which discounts you could get with a little more paperwork or renovations to your house. Don’t be too shy.
2. Make sure you shop around.
This is also pretty common-sense: Compare Home Insurance Quotes. Don’t settle immediately for the first policy you find. Different companies have different practices. In this case, it’s not just the cost of premiums you’re shopping around for. What a company chooses to cover or omit could be just as crucial in determining what you’re paying for at the end of each month. Talk to multiple representatives, ask a lot of questions, and compare your options from each.
3. Opt-out of paper bills.
This is one of the easiest ways to save. Going green isn’t just responsible for the environment. It’s easy on your wallet as well. Some companies offer a small discount to incentivize switches to paperless billing. Check out your company’s website or talk to your representative to see if it’s the case with yours as well.
4. Increase your deductible.
If you can afford to cover less expensive claims out of your own pocket, then raising your deductible is a great way to lower premiums. Keeping it above $1,000, or maybe even $5000/$10,000, will significantly lower your bill. It’s also a good long-term strategy because filing too many small claims is a great way to skyrocket your premiums.
5. Pay your premiums on an annual (or at least non-monthly) basis.
Some companies will offer you a discount if you pay for a year of coverage upfront, rather than on a month-to-month basis. If you’re sure you won’t be making any major housing changes in the next year, and you’re satisfied with your monthly coverage, why not just commit to a whole year? If you can afford it, it’s simple and way less involved than some of the home renovations listed above.
6. Try to buy home and auto insurance as part of a package.
Many companies will offer home and auto insurance as a bundled package, usually with a discount. This is a great way to save as well, but you’ll have to do your research. Each plan’s coverage has to be right for you and your home and car. In addition, you might want to make sure it’s not cheaper to buy the plans separately from two different companies (unlikely, but possible).
7. Don’t file claims too frequently, especially for small incidents.
Which brings us to our next point. If you file a lot of claims on a regular basis, your insurer could rapidly raise your premiums or even drop you from coverage. With that kind of history, it’ll also be hard to find a new homeowner’s insurance contract at a low price. So if your premiums are a bit too high for your liking, hold off on filing unless absolutely necessary. Keeping it to one claim every 5 years or less is maybe the most crucial way you can keep your monthly bills down.
8. Maintain a good credit score.
Credit score is just one of the ways companies might evaluate you when determining how high your monthly premiums are. Not all companies look at credit score, but many do, and in increasing numbers, according to The New York Times. Depending on where you live, this could be either a non-issue or a huge determinant of how high your premiums are. Some states don’t let companies use credit score as a factor in deciding how costly your premiums are, while others don’t regulate it at all. But as long as you have good credit, you won’t even have to worry about it in the first place.
9. Renovate your home and make it less risky to insure.
Home insurance companies bank on risk by taking the chance that you won’t need to file a claim very often or for very much money. So if you can show them that your house is a low-risk proposition to insure, then your premiums will be lower than someone who has a house that looks like a claim in the next few years is inevitable.
There are a lot of ways you can make your house a less-risky prospect. You could beef up your home security system, or take care of any tree branches that are hanging low by your roof. Doing regular maintenance and ensuring that your house is structurally and cosmetically sound is also a good way to do it. (Check out the next few suggestions for a couple of specific ways to lower your premiums through house renovations.)
10. and 11. Install a modern security system AND Improve the locks on your home’s windows and doors.
Installing a state-of-the-art security system could help lower your home insurance premiums by reassuring insurance companies that your home is secure. They’ll know that in the event of a break-in or similar crime, authorities will be immediately notified. The best kind you can install is a central alarm system, i.e. one that contacts a responder as soon as your home is broken into.
Installing quality locks is an equally good way to show your agent that your home is secure. Deadbolts are the best kind of lock to get, especially on doors that lead outside the house.
12. Install good smoke detectors that can detect CO levels.
Smoke alarms use a range of different technologies to detect fires in your home. It’s good to have a variety of modern smoke alarms that you can show to your insurer as proof that any fire will be noticed immediately.
A few things to consider: ionization alarms detect fast-burning fires better, but photoelectric alarms detect slow-burning fires more quickly. Some alarms have a carbon monoxide detector built-in for added safety. Battery-powered alarms work individually, while a hard-wired system (must be built into the home) will sound the alarm throughout your entire property. Ideally, if you’re gunning for a discount then you’d have a few different alarms that employ a range of these different technologies.
13. Install a sprinkler system.
This might seem like overkill, but it’s just another way to show insurance companies that your house is a very low risk for fire damage. It might be costly to install such a system upfront, but it’s worth at least doing the math on it. If you do install sprinklers, it could have a significant effect on your premiums and be a net gain a few years down the road.
14. If you have a pool, fence it in and install a cover or other safety equipment.
Swimming pools are attractive but expensive to insure. For small children or those who can’t swim, pools can be incredibly dangerous. In other words, they’re a potential liability claim. If you want to reassure your insurer, try installing a fence around your pool and making sure there’s a cover and other safety equipment readily available.
15. Equip your house with storm doors or storm shutters if it doesn’t have them.
Weatherproofing your home could also lead insurance companies to view your home as a lower risk. Having a storm door or storm shutters means you’re less likely to replace your door or windows anytime soon from rain or wind damage. As a bonus, it also might just make your home more energy-efficient – another way to cut costs.
16. Install an automatic generator in case power goes out.
Power outages are a total headache when you’re an adult. As a homeowner, a power outage could mean that your home’s pipes freeze in the winter, or that thefts are a risk when your alarm system turns off. Check with your insurance agent to see if installing an automatic generator can lead to a discount. It’ll keep your home secure and running, which is a win under any insurance policy, period.
17. Reinforce your roof and replace any missing shingles.
No matter what your roof is made of, it’ll take a beating from sun, rain, and snow. So it’s worth the investment to buy a quality, weatherproof roof and to replace the shingles on a regular basis. This will show your insurer that you’re at a much lower risk for water leaks or other kinds of structural damage that could lead to a home insurance claim, thus lowering your premiums.
18. Make your home environmentally friendly.
Going green isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for your wallet as well. If you can show your insurer that your house is truly environmentally friendly, you could earn a bonus in the form of slightly lower premiums. You also might be eligible for government rebates, so you could be looking at quite a bit of cash (and good karma).
19. Try to stay committed.
No, we’re not talking about relationships. Commitment matters just as much when it comes to your home insurance policy! Try not to hop from one company to another. If you stay on as a long-term customer with one company, they may offer you a discount simply because they value your commitment to them. Shopping around at the beginning is always a good idea, and you should still take a look at what’s on the market every year. But once you find a policy that fits you and your home, don’t be tempted by quick discounts or flashy offers.
20. Stay updated on the assets you’ve got covered and remove any you don’t need.
Updating your insurance coverage every year or so is a good idea, mostly because your home and assets are probably always changing. Whether you renovate your home or you give away your flatscreen TV to your cousin, any situation could easily change the terms of your home insurance. If you don’t need to insure as many expensive assets, you could see your premiums go down significantly. If your premiums go up, that’s a good signal to shop around again.
21. Try to avoid owning an intimidating dog
Even whether or not you own a dog could affect your monthly premiums. Most insurance companies have some kind of “dangerous dog” section in their contract. If you own a dog from certain breeds, companies can choose to charge you higher premiums.
22. Buy a home that’s built to withstand your area’s natural disasters.
When you buy a home, make sure you look at how it’s built and with what materials. Your house’s construction could have a dramatic effect on your premiums. If your home is made of a wood frame, for example, your premiums might be higher in a dry area where fires are common because it’ll burn easily. On the other hand, they’ll be lower in an earthquake-prone area because wood frames are more pliable than brick or concrete. Do your research!
23. Pay for insurance on your house itself, not the land under or around it.
Even if you own a lot of land, it’s unlikely you’ll need to insure it along with your home. Unlike houses, land isn’t easily affected by broken appliances or structural issues. So you can cut costs by insuring your house itself but leaving out the land under and around it.
24. Give up smoking.
On average, smokers end up paying more for home insurance. That’s because regular cigarette usage isn’t just a cosmetic problem for your house. Unextinguished cigarettes are also a legitimate risk factor for house fires as well. Every year, smoking is one of the leading causes of residential fires – so it’s no surprise that quitting is one surefire way to lower premiums.