Homeowners insurance rates

While homeowners insurance rates are increasing due to inflation and higher building costs, you can still enjoy lower premiums and discounts with home improvements,  upgrades and other money-saving strategies.

Homeowners insurance rates greatly vary from state to state and, on top of that, factors like the home values, deductibles, and coverage levels can also affect your annual premium.

Most people hate paying for homeowners insurance premium as they don’t like to think about catastrophic losses, such as fire and hurricane, especially as they are unlikely to occur. However, to avoid the risk of your biggest investment – your home – being wiped out by an unthinkable event, it pays to be adequately protected or, to be more precise, insured.

According to a recent survey released by personal finance website, ValuePenguin, the average cost of a homeowners insurance policy is $952 per year, although in Massachusetts it is a bit higher—about $200 more than the national average. Nonetheless, there are a number of ways that can help you reduce your premium and sometimes, when combined, they could slash up to 40 percent off your home insurance rates.

Homeowners Insurance Rates: First Things First

Before you stress over the ballooning homeowners insurance costs, it is important to make sure that your home is properly covered first. It is prudent to determine how much it would cost to rebuild it in the event of a major disaster, as opposed to the home values on the open market.

Your homeowner insurance agent can help you assess the cost to rebuild your house. Also, take note that home that would cost $350,000 to rebuild, for example, should carry insurance coverage of the same amount.

However, things can get a bit tricky when you purchase a new home as it has become a common practice among lenders to require borrowers to take out insurance coverage for the purchase price, which more often than not is based on its market value. Consequently, homebuyers often insure their homes for the incorrect amount—they are either over-insured or under-insured.

Slashing Your Home Insurance Rates

Massachusetts is one of the top five most at-risk states for hurricane damage in the country and has also seen nasty winters over the past few years, which could result in $150 million worth of claims. Not surprisingly, almost every insurance company has increased their home insurance rates to maintain their healthy profit margin.

Despite the increasing homeowners insurance rates, there are several things you can do to minimize the cost. For instance, you may want to avoid risks that insurers tend not to like to cover.

The following is a list of home improvements and tactics that could reduce your homeowners insurance costs, sometimes by considerable amounts when you are eligible for multiple discount programs.

Shop Around for the Cheapest Homeowners Insurance Rates

To get a good deal it is best to compare insurance premiums from 3-4 insurers every time your policy is up for renewal, although you should also look at any longevity discounts your current provider may offer. Usually, staying with the same company for 3-5 years is rewarded with five percent discount, and ten percent for six years or longer.

Increase Your Home Insurance Deductible

When you choose higher deductibles, your insurer will reduce your annual premium. Nowadays, many financial experts agree that with the increasing homeowners insurance costs, it no longer makes sense to augment your premium in an attempt to lower your deductible.

To put this into perspective, opting for low deductibles of $300-$500 could increase your premium by 25 percent as opposed to when you have higher deductibles of $1000-$25000.

Bundle Your Home and Car Insurance Policies

If you purchase two or more policies from the same insurance company, you can expect an average discount of 10-15 percent. Some large insurers even award a discount of up to 22 percent for policyholders who bundle their car insurance and homeowners insurance policy.

You may also bundle other types of insurance policies.  For example, you may combine your homeowners insurance policy with “floater” coverage, which makes sense if you own valuable pieces of arts and expensive jewelry.

Ask for Good Homeowners Discount

You can enjoy low-cost home insurance rates if you’re eligible for good homeowners discounts. These reward programs motivate policyholders to eliminate or, at least, reduce risk of damage by fitting their homes with smoke detectors, security and fire alarm systems, deadbolt locks, fire extinguishers, and similar safety features.

Arguably, the biggest discount you could possibly enjoy is the impact-resistant roof discount. In Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, and other states known for their strong hurricanes and nasty winters, some providers could slash up to 35 percent off their insurance premiums. (Note: your insurance provider may ask you to present receipts proving that the installation or upgrade was completed by a professional.)

Be sure to ask your agent about their discounts and reward programs, which could drastically reduce your insurance premium, when combined.

Reevaluate Your Insurance Coverage Periodically

Before your insurance coverage is up for renewal, re-evaluate your current policy and call your insurance agent to notify of any changes in your situation during the year. The idea is to eliminate obsolete or overlapping coverage and add it for any new requirements to make sure that you only pay for your precise need.

Read the Fine Print on Your Policy

First and foremost, you should know what insurance coverages make sense to you so you and your insurance agent can customize your policy. Of course, reading the fine print further ensures that you avoid overlapping and obsolete policies, or worse, being underinsured.

For instance, you don’t need earthquake coverage if you live in a non-earthquake region, nor a floater policy if you don’t own expensive jewelry or valuable art. However, never skimp on essential coverages, such as fire and wind insurance.

Eliminate Risks Insurers Penalize or Shy Away From

Most insurers see ungated swimming pools, trampolines, and certain dog breeds (e.g. Pit Bulls and Rottweilers) as huge risks, which means you either pay extra insurance premiums, or worse, your application is rejected or your policy is not renewed.

Again, be sure to read the fine print on your policy, particularly the “Conditions and Coverages” section to determine the risks and events that are excluded from your insurance coverage.

Older homes are also deemed as risky to insure. Consequently, you may be slapped with higher homeowners insurance rates unless you replace your electrical and plumbing systems.

Avoid Making Small Claims

Most experts agree that a home insurance policy is best reserved for catastrophic losses. Hence, you may want to avoid making small claims, which can spike the cost of homeowners insurance. Even if you’re thinking of switching to another company, take note that insurers have access to a large database which shows the claims history of every policyholder. This means that you’ll still be penalized with an expensive insurance premium.

Pay Your Insurance Premiums in Full

If you pay your annual or six-month policy in full, you may enjoy a low processing fee or at least a discount on your premium.

Choose Paperless Billing

Although choosing paperless billing can only give you a small discount, when combined with other discount and rebate programs your insurance premium may be slashed by up to 20-40 percent.

Econosurance