What items can give you a discount on homeowners insurance?
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Your home is likely the most expensive — and possibly the best — investment you will ever make. For that reason, you want to protect it, which means you need a good homeowners insurance policy.
But that protection comes at a price. The average annual premium for U.S. homeowners was $1,211 in 2017, the latest year for which we have records. In some states, especially those that are known for severe weather, costs may be twice as high.
Fortunately, there are numerous things you can do to get the most bang for your buck with your homeowners insurance. We’ll take a look at many of them here and explain what home insurance discounts to ask for to save significant amounts on your premium costs.
What can get me a discount on my home insurance?
One of the best ways to lower your premium costs is to take advantage of the home insurance discounts that most insurance companies offer. Ask your agent about discount home insurance to ensure that you’re not missing any that you’re eligible for. Most of them save you a small percentage off your premium. If you can get more than one, they can add up.
Common home insurance discounts to ask for
While some providers have unique discounts, many companies offer similar possibilities. Here are some of the most common discount options providers have. Ask your insurance company to see if you qualify for these or any unique discounts it offers.
Replacing your roof can be an expensive proposition, costing in the range of $4,000-$15,000, but you can save money in several ways with roofing discounts. Some companies offer a small homeowners discount for replacing your roof; others require you to use impact-resistant roofing materials that will resist hail damage, such as Class 4 heavy-grade modified asphalt and shake shingles.
The benefit here is that not only do you receive savings each month, but you will be unlikely to make a claim on roof damage because your roof can stand up to all the abuse the weather can throw at it.
A security system makes your home safer and gives you peace of mind. It can also save you money. Security system discounts are one of the most common types offered by many insurers.
USAA, for example, partners with ADT to provide professionally installed security systems and then gives you money off on your premium for doing so. Anything from a door sensor to a full-scale, centrally-monitored system may make you eligible for this discount homeowners insurance.
Fire alarms and smoke detectors
The most expensive claims filed in the U.S., by a large margin, are for fire damage. The average fire or lightning damage claim is for more than $68,000 — and your insurance company would rather not pay out on that large a claim. So, it’s to their benefit to provide a home insurance discount for a working fire alarm.
Even simple smoke detectors placed throughout your home may make you eligible for a discount. Adding some smoke detectors is also one of the most low-cost ways to save money on your insurance because smoke detectors range in price from $10-$50. Compared to the thousands of dollars it would take to install a sprinkler system, this is a no-brainer. Most insurers want you to have several detectors, at least one per floor.
If you happen to be shopping for a new home, consider that living near a fire station or within a short distance from a hydrant is one of the factors companies take into account when determining your premium cost.
Plumbing and electrical upgrade
Upgrading your plumbing and electrical systems is rarely a bad idea, especially if you live in an older house. By doing so, your home becomes safer and fires and floods are less likely to result in your filing a claim with your insurer. Farmers Insurance, for example, offers an average of 6 percent off if you replace your plumbing during a remodel. Overhauling your electric gets another 2 percent off.
Because overhauling plumbing and electric is a major expense, you are unlikely to tackle this project unless you’re doing significant remodeling. If you’re planning to remodel in the near future, ask your agent about this discount.
Water safety system
Highly-rated insurers such as Amica are increasingly offering homeowners discounts if you have a system in your home that checks for water or gas leaks automatically. Because these leaks often happen in parts of your home, such as a basement, that you may not be in frequently, leaks can go undetected for a while — which is dangerous and can lead to a high-cost claim on your insurance.
It’s easy to see why insurers are prepared to lower your premium if you have a sprinkler system. According to the National Fire Protection Association, sprinklers are a proven way to protect lives and your property against fire. Smoke alarms are good and will also get you a discount with some companies, but having an automatic, working sprinkler system increases that discount, requires little maintenance and may save your life. Companies like Progressive will gladly give you a discount for installing one.
As with plumbing and electrical, upgrading your heating and cooling system leaves your home both more comfortable and safer, with less likelihood of fires. Although it’s an expensive project, costing between $4,000-20,000, it can result in both insurance savings and substantially lower energy use bills.
High credit score
Having a high credit score of 700 or above is something that your insurer takes into consideration when writing your premium quote. Your potential insurer will pull your current score from one of the three agencies that records them and will use it and information about your past claim history to create something called an insurance score. This score is used to help determine your costs.
Although it may already be factored into your basic quote, it’s worth asking the agent if there is an additional discount for your credit score, especially if it’s at the higher end.
Another common discount is for new or extensively remodeled homes. Insurers reason that a new home has new systems and is made of new materials, so a new home should not be as prone to fire or other disasters as older homes.
Make this work to your benefit by finding out if your company offers discounts. Some of the companies that offer it include Amica and Allstate. Although you can save up to 25 percent in the beginning for a new house, note that this discount may lessen or disappear as your house ages.
Your quote may be lower if you have a masonry home, as opposed to the more common wood frame house because masonry doesn’t burn. As with your credit score, this is probably something that your potential insurer will take into account when they write your initial quote — even if it’s a simple online quote. When you talk to an agent, ask for this discount if you own a brick or other masonry home.
Fire resistant construction
More fire-resistant building materials appear on the market every day, and it’s possible to request them when doing a new build or a remodel. Class A rated materials such as fiber-cement roof shingles, for example, can result in savings of up to 20 percent on your policy.
With the increasing number of wildfires in the Midwest and western parts of the country, more providers are encouraging flame-resistant materials. The National Fire Protection Association’s new program Firewise USA, for example, is a partnership with USAA insurance to give discounts for firewise construction in seven wildfire-prone states.
Hurricane resistant windows
Although it’s not as common as other homeowners discounts, some companies, such as Allstate, will offer you savings if you have hurricane-resistant windows or storm shutters that can cover the windows in the event of a hurricane or high winds. Installing storm shutters can cost less than $500 for plywood shutters; at the high end, roll-down shutters may cost you $10-20,000.
The expense is probably not worth it unless you live in a persistent hurricane area. If you do experience hurricanes, though, storm shutters could be a lifesaver.
Impact-resistant garage doors
In states such as Florida that are often the site of hurricanes, installing impact-resistant garage doors, especially those without windows, may net you a discount. In fact, Florida insurers are required to offer discounts for opening protection, which is insurance-speak for openings in your home such as windows, doors, vents and skylights that are installed with wind-resistant features.
To qualify for this type of discount, you generally need to have impact-resistant materials installed that will allow your doors and other openings to withstand hurricane-level winds. Note that this discount is available mainly in coastal states that are prone to windstorms, not nationwide.
Steel doors and frames
Steel doors, sometimes called impact doors, are similar to impact-resistant garage doors. Steel doors are made of steel or fiberglass with polyurethane foam cores that can withstand gale-force winds. These doors generally don’t have much glazing on them and include reinforced hinges and door knob areas.
Because steel doors are designed to resist heavy forces coming at them from the outside, they also tend to be more effective against burglary. You can sometimes get a discount for having these kinds of doors in states such as Florida and Texas where wind storms are not unusual.
There are many possible discounts you can earn to decrease your premium payments. Others are often available depending on who you are: if you’re a senior and retired, for example, or if you’re married. There’s also usually a discount when you bundle your homeowner with auto insurance, and some insurers offer a “welcome” discount for signing up.
You are responsible for speaking with an agent to determine how many discounts will apply in your situation. Check when you start a policy and when you do a remodel. Experts recommend that you review your policy annually to see if any new circumstances might qualify you for an additional discount or two. By being proactive, you may be able to get your premiums at a more affordable price.