5 Steps to Protect Your Home
5 Steps to Protect Your Home
How to buy the right insurance coverage at the best possible price
Do you have enough homeowners insurance? Are you paying too much? These tips will help you fine-tune your most important coverage to make sure your home and its contents are well-protected at the best price.
1. Close Any Gaps in Your Coverage
There are no state-mandated requirements for homeowners coverage (as there are for auto insurance in most states), and a mortgage lender may only require you to insure for 80 percent of the replacement value of your home. But being underinsured could leave you on the hook for a significant sum, especially if you need to completely rebuild. For maximum protection, CR recommends that you insure for the full replacement cost of your house.
The value of the added protection is well worth the added cost, says Gary Blackwell, who owns an independent insurance agency in Corinth, Maine. “Instead of insuring a $500,000 home for $400,000,” he says, “adding an additional $100,000 in coverage for, say, roughly $100 a year is a good deal.”
Remember that a homeowners policy won’t cover damage from normal wear and tear, which is why it’s important to maintain your home. For instance, your insurer would cover a leaky roof and related problems caused by a fallen tree limb, but it wouldn’t cover damage caused by a roof that leaked because it was poorly maintained. Ditto for damage from infestations of pests, like termites.
2. Find Ways to Lower Your Premiums
Try one or more of these proven ways to bring down the cost of your premiums.
Shop around. In our Summer 2018 homeowners insurance survey, more than 10,000 Consumer Reports members—out of more than 81,000 respondents—said they’d changed carriers in the previous three years. More than half of those who switched said they did so because they got a better price.
Some state insurance departments publish rate comparisons. Floridians, for instance, can go to floir.com; Californians, to insurance.ca.gov. You can also get quotes from an independent agent who sells policies from several insurance companies. (Find one at independentagent.com.)
Comparison-shopping sites such as Insure.com, NetQuote, and SelectQuote are also good places to look for coverage. Note, though, that our top-rated companies—USAA (for military members, veterans, and their eligible relatives) and Amica—use their own agents, and their homeowners insurance isn’t included in shopping sites. You’ll have to apply directly with each of them to get quotes.
“Bundle” coverage. Purchasing your homeowners and auto coverage from the same company can provide savings of up to 30 percent overall.
Raise your deductible. Higher deductibles equal lower premiums. Going to a $1,000 deductible from $500, for instance, can shave up to 25 percent off your premium, says the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization.
Make home improvements. Replacing old plumbing or adding a security system and water- or gas-leak detection sensors can each provide insurance savings of 2 to 6 percent or more. Replacing a roof with an impact-resistant one can save up to 35 percent in some states. Cutting back dry brush around dwellings and outbuildings in a fire-prone area can[…]
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113 North Irwin Avenue
Ocilla, GA 31774