30 Ways To Save Money On Home Insurance - From an Expert
Home insurance prices only seem to go up. Here are the top 30 ways to find savings on your next home insurance bill:
- A New Roof
Insurance companies love a new roof, but replacing a roof is expensive -- over $12,000. Roof damage can lead to water damage or mold, which are costly to repair. When insurance carriers underwrite a new roof, they offer discounts to account for the lower probability of roof-related insurance claims. Many carriers give substantial discounts (5%-30%) if your roof is under 5 years old.
- Higher Deductible
Your home insurance deductible is the dollar amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts paying for a covered loss. Increasing your deductible will lead to savings, even if you only increase it by $500, from $1,000 to $1,500. Insurance carriers expect homeowners with a higher deductible are less likely to file a claim. Even in a claims scenario, the insurance company will pay a smaller percentage of the total loss if you carry a higher deductible.
- Update Heating, Electrical, and Plumbing
HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems have a pre-determined useful life before they need upgrades. Carriers get concerned if your home is over 40 years old with no updates. Update your heating, electrical, and plumbing systems to become eligible for more discounts, or at least get a home inspection to show they are working properly.
- Hip Roof Shape
The shape of your roof can significantly reduce damage during a windstorm. While most roofs have gables on each end, some roofs are hip. A hip roof shape has a single peak in the center (birds-eye view) and is downward sloping on all four sides. The hip geometry prevents strong winds from getting stuck in the pocket of a roof gable and potentially blowing the roof off. The hip roof discount can cut 30% off your premium!
- Fire Alarm/Sprinkler System
A total fire loss is the max loss severity from the insurance carrier's perspective - nothing worse than when the whole house burns down. Systems that prevent a fire loss or reduce the severity of fire damage will always fetch a discount. As fire burns fast, the difference between a 15 minute and 30 minute response time to a fire can mean a $70,000 vs. $700,000 claim for the insurance carrier.
- Improve Your Credit
Insurance companies spend a lot of upfront fees to price home insurance and inspect the property. If they go through all this work, only to find you can't pay your bills, the efforts turn into a waste of everyone's time and money. Insurance carriers give discounts to customers with more reliable credit ratings. Note: in states like California, credit is not an approved rating factor, so insurance carriers cannot offer discounts or surcharges tied to credit scores.
- No Claims History
Your CLUE report carries your insurance claims history. Try to avoid filing a claim that is less than 3x your deductible. It's best to save your home insurance policy for a significant claim event. In Pittsburgh, homeowners fix smaller issues around the house rather than filing a home insurance claim. Pittsburgh is known to enjoy some of the lowest home insurance rates in the country.
- Don't File Claims That Are Not Covered
Here is another piece of insider knowledge that most people don't know: if you file a claim with the insurance carrier, and that claim is denied, it still goes on your claims record for the next five years. At Young Alfred, we always recommend our customers call us first before filing a claim. It hurts you to file a claim that isn't covered, and it can take an expert to know if you have a high probability of being paid for the damages.
- Sell the Trampoline (or at least add a safety net)
If you or someone in your family gets injured on your trampoline, your home insurance will not cover the medical bills; that would be your health insurance. However, if a guest or neighbor's kid is jumping on the trampoline and breaks their neck, the neighbor can sue you, and your home insurance would step in to defend your liability. Minimize the risk of injury and improve your eligibility by adding a safety net to your trampoline.
- Get a 4 Point Home Inspection
This discount is for Florida homeowners. Homes over 40 years old in Florida will require a 4 point home inspection. The 4 point checks your HVAC, plumbing, electrical, siding, and roof do not need significant updates. If you are buying a new home in Florida built over 40 years ago, you should require the property seller to pay for this inspection as part of the appraisal process.
- Remove the Slide/Diving Board from Pool
The data shows diving boards and water slides are enormous liability risks. If a neighbor's kid is over and does a backflip a little too close to the diving board and ends up in the hospital, you might be getting a lawsuit. Your home insurance personal liability coverage will likely be footing a hefty bill.
- Burglar Alarm/Security Camera
About 1 in 270 homes file a burglary or theft claim each year -- the average theft claim is just over $4,000. The best way to prevent a burglary is to have a burglar alarm or security camera on the premises. Most insurance carriers give a 2-8% discount for having a security system on the property. There are many home security devices on the market, so ensure your system is eligible with your carrier before assuming a discount.
- Storm Shutters/Hurricane Grade Windows
Hurricane grade winds bring debris and projectiles that can shatter windows in your home. Storm shutters can help reduce the probability of broken windows. In coastal regions, insurance companies offer massive discounts for hurricane grade protection on all the openings of your home: windows, doors, and garage.
- Wind Mitigation Report
The wind mitigation report is a friend of every Florida homeowner. It can cut your insurance bill by 50% if your roof is hip shaped and your opening protections are hurricane grade. A licensed home inspector completes the wind mitigation report, and it costs about $75 - $100. It is valid for five years, so if you are buying a home and the previous owner has a recent report, use that.
- Pay Off Your Mortgage
Home insurance companies know homeowners treat their home a little better if they own it outright vs. the bank. While not all carriers offer this discount, it is an excellent saving for those in the fortunate situation of having no mortgage.
- Hail Resistant Roofing
There are certain hail regions of the US where hail resistant roofing is a worthy consideration: Texas, Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Home insurance companies frequently pay hail claims - so they offer significant discounts for hail resistant roofing. The difference between replacing a new roof and a patch job can be $10,000 to the carrier, so they are happy to pass those savings back to you in the form of lower premiums.
- Move Closer to a Fire Department
If your home were to catch on fire, the number one factor on the loss's severity is fire response time. If a fire station is within 5 miles of your property, that is good; within 1 mile is phenomenal.
- Paid-in Full
Most homeowners know that if you pay the entire premium upfront, you get a discount. The best way to take advantage of the paid-in-full discount while still paying a monthly rate is to pay the home insurance through your mortgage/escrow account. The escrow account will pay the insurance carrier in full for the year, so you get the paid-in-full discount, and then add the insurance premium to the balance of your mortgage, so you end up paying monthly. (with some small amount of interest added to your loan)
- Trim Your Trees
Home insurance covers damage from falling objects, so if a tree or large branch falls on your house, it is covered. Insurance companies may not insure your home if they see large branches overhanging or touching the roof. If you have a large tree above your roof, hire a professional to remove branches. If you live in an area with large windstorms, hurricanes, or tornadoes, removing these large branches or pulling out a dying tree is prudent.
- Bundle Home & Auto
Bundling home and auto isn't just easier for payment and managing your insurance account -- it can save you money! Bundle discounts can range from 5% to 40%. If you are a homeowner, you likely have a car or two as well. While it is worth checking bundled rates, don't assume that is always the best option. At Young Alfred, we review both bundled prices and mix and match for our customers. We find the bundle is better about 50% of the time, and 50% of the time, it is better to split insurance between two companies.
- Avoid These Dog Breeds
Bad owners are usually responsible for bad dog behavior, not bad breeds. Insurance carriers don't have a way to rate a dog owner, so they instead rate the breed of dog. Dog bite claims are severe ($44,760 on average) and common from certain breeds: Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and Rottweilers. Many insurance carriers will exclude canine liability coverage on your home insurance if you have a specific breed or even outright reject coverage.
- Don't Switch Too Often
The disadvantage of shopping every year is your current carrier may provide loyalty discounts over time. Other carriers may get you in the first year but then increase rates at renewal. Every time you switch, you have to go through a new home inspection. There is a chance that your new home insurance company finds an issue at inspection that they require you to repair.
- Use a Knowledgeable Insurance Agent
An insurance agent needs to know local discounts available in your area - many of these discounts you would have difficulty finding by yourself. The more insurance companies they work with, the better, as you can be sure you are getting a fair and affordable rate for your coverage. They are accommodating when it comes to identifying coverage gaps and bundling multiple policies like flood, umbrella, or earthquake insurance. Insurance agents like Young Alfred are far more digital today as well, so you can work with them entirely online or over email if you choose!
- Reduce Coverage You Don't Need
In every insurance policy, there is likely a piece of coverage you don't need. Find savings by reducing unnecessary coverage. The best places to find savings on your policy are to check Coverage B and Coverage C. Coverage B provides coverage for other structures not attached to your home: a fence, gazebo, barn, etc. Coverage C provides coverage on your personal belongings. Coverage C can default to a high limit (much higher than the actual value of your personal property) - as it is set to 50% of your Coverage A limit.
- Get a Quote At Least 8 Days in Advance
The advanced quote discount is an easy discount to get and can often be ~5% off your premium. As with most events in life, it is best to plan ahead. If you are starting a new policy, set the effective date to 8 days in the future.
If you are retired, make sure you are getting those retiree discounts! Retired people are at home more often and generally are more experienced homeowners, so they are less likely to file a claim and usually get a discount on their home insurance.
- Self Insure
Not recommended, but the cheapest home insurance policy is no policy at all. If you own your home outright and have no mortgage, home insurance is technically an optional purchase. You have to ask yourself: if my house were to burn down tomorrow, would I be ok financially? If the answer is yes, you could skip on the purchase, but I do not recommend this option.
- Maintain Continuous Coverage
A lapse in coverage can be expensive. Many carriers will not quote a homeowner that has a period of no insurance coverage, and the companies that do quote may charge a lot more for the lapse.
- Sign Up for Paperless/E-signature
Save trees, save paper, save money. The e-signature discount is great for the insurance industry and homeowners alike! The paperless discount is usually small (only a few dollars) but a no brainer to add to your policy.
- Go Shopping
Young Alfred has built the most advanced home insurance shopping tool for home insurance. We don't require a phone number and never sell customer information, ever. Our technology connects directly with 40+ A-rated insurance carriers to find the best coverage options in your area. We take pride in being the smartest, most customer-friendly agent on earth.
Now you know how to make home insurance more affordable, let's find you some savings:
At your service,