insurance

Ways to lower your home insurance

 

One of the biggest expenses of homeownership outside of the actual mortgage is homeowners insurance. And while agents might check to see which discounts you qualify for when you first sign up for your policy, they're under no obligation to re-check when you renew.

It's important to continually be aware of new discounts offered by your company. Here are some common ones:

A multiple policy discount: This can be awarded if you carry your home, auto and life insurance with the same company. Companies want your business and are willing to reward you as much as 30 percent off for bundling up with them.

An advanced alarm system discount: If your alarm system connects to a central location and alerts emergency responders automatically, you could stand to shave up to 20 percent from your insurance bill.

Loyalty discounts: Companies like it when you renew, so much so that they are willing to reward loyalty by lowering your bill. Most insurance carriers offer discounts for their long-time policy holders in the 5 to 10 percent range.

And a disaster prep discount: The Insurance Institute For Business And Home Safety has set certain criteria that homes can meet in order to be considered "fortified" against natural hazards. If you live in a home that meets the standards, you could qualify for as much as 30 percent off.

If your premiums are still too high, consider raising your deductible.

Soundbite: Jim Whittle, chief claims counsel, American Insurance Institute

"When you shift the deductibles around, you're also shifting around the premium. Because if you have a higher deductible, the insurer is picking up less of the risk. So, it's a question of what can you afford? How much risk are you willing to accept."

Also, take steps to improve your credit. A great credit score could mean a difference of hundreds of dollars.

For more ways to cut your insurance bills, visit Bankrate.com. I'm Doug Whiteman.

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