30 Ways To Save Money On Home Insurance
Homeowners know that home insurance prices only seem to go up. Here are the top 30 ways to find savings on your next home insurance bill:
- New Roof Update
Insurance carriers love a new roof. Replacing a roof is expensive (often over $12,000). A damaged roof can lead to water damage and mold, which is costly to repair as well. When carriers see a new roof, they gain comfort in knowing the roof will not need replacement anytime soon. Many carriers give substantial discounts on premiums (over 10%) if your roof is only 0-5 years old.
- Higher Deductible
Your home insurance deductible is how much you pay out of pocket before the insurance company steps in for a covered loss. Increasing your deductible will lead to savings, even if you only increase it from $1,000 to $1,500, insurance carriers rate for a more responsible homeowner that is less likely to file a claim. And with that deductible, in a claims scenario, they are also paying $500 less out of their capital reserve.
- Self Insure
Not recommended, but the cheapest home insurance policy is no policy at all. If you have a mortgage, you do not have this option as your lender will require you to purchase home insurance on the property. However, 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.
- 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 without any updates. To become eligible with more carriers and even get discounts, update your heating, electrical, and plumbing systems in the house.
- Hip Roof Shape
The shape of your roof can significantly reduce the likelihood of damage during a windstorm. While most roofs have gables on each end, some are hip shaped. A hip roof shape has a single peak in the center and is downward sloping on all four sides. The hip geometry prevents wind pressure from getting stuck in the pocket of a roof gable and potentially blowing off the roof. The hip roof discount can be more than 30% off your premium!
- Fire Alarm/Sprinkler System
The most costly loss from the carrier's point of view is a total fire loss, meaning the whole house burns down. If you have systems that prevent a fire loss or reduce the severity of fire damage, then you can expect 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 carriers and agents spend a lot of upfront costs to price the home insurance and inspect the property. If they go through all this work, only to find out the individual cannot pay their bills, it is a terrible investment of everyone's time and resources. For this reason, insurance carriers give discounts to customers with more reliable credit ratings. Note: in some 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
Try to avoid filing a claim that is less than 3x your deductible. Generally speaking, it's best to save your home insurance policy for significant claim events. There are even specific cities, like Pittsburgh, where homeowners often fix smaller issues around the house rather than filing an insurance claim, and they are rewarded by having 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 shot at being paid out.
- Sell the Trampoline
Trampolines are fun for all ages, but they are also the source of many injuries. If you or someone in your family gets injured on your trampoline, your home insurance will not kick in, but instead, your health insurance. However, if a guest or neighbor's kid is jumping on the trampoline and breaks their neck, they can sue you, and your home insurance would step in to defend your liability as the injury happened on your property. 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 Floridian 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 that is over 40 years old, demand the seller of the property pay for this inspection as part of the appraisal process.
- Remove the Slide/Diving Board from Pool
Who doesn't love trying to do a flip off a diving board or going headfirst down a water slide? Well, insurance carriers. The data shows diving boards and water slides are huge liability risks. If a neighbor's kid is over and does a backflip a little to close to the diving board and ends up in the hospital, you might be getting a lawsuit. Your home insurance personal liability coverage (coverage E) would 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 make sure your system is eligible with your carriers 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 Floridian homeowner. It can routinely cut your insurance bill by up to 50% when 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 also valid for five years, so if you are buying a home and the previous owner has a report done recently, 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 paid off their 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 see a lot of hail claims in these states, and so offer significant discounts for hail resistant roofing. The difference between replacing a new roof and small patchwork 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 severity of the loss is fire response time. If you live close to a fire station, you should get a discount. 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 effectively 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 just add the insurance premium to the balance of your mortgage, so you end up paying monthly. (with some small amount of interest)
- Trim Your Trees
Home insurance covers damage from falling objects, so if a tree or large branch falls on your house, it is covered. However, insurance companies may not insure your home if they see large branches overhanging the roof. If you have a large tree touching 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 account, it also can save you money! Bundle discounts can range from 5% to 40% based on the insurance company. 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, and 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. Unfortunately, insurance carriers don't have a way to price insurance based on a "dog owner score," so they instead resort to the next best piece of data: the breed of dog. Dog bite claims are both severe ($44,760 on average) and common from certain breeds (Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, etc.). Many insurance carriers will not insure your property if you have a certain dog breed on the premises.
- Don't Switch Too Often
The disadvantage of shopping every year is your current carrier may provide loyalty discounts over time, and other carriers you may find might not always be the best fit for your long term. 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 an Insurance Agent
A good insurance agent should be knowledgeable about local discounts available in your area that you would have difficulty finding by yourself. They also work with more insurance companies and so you can make sure you are getting a fair and affordable rate for your coverage. They are especially helpful 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 probably some piece of coverage you don't need and can 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, which is usually set to a fixed percentage of Coverage A. For higher value homes, Coverage C can default to a limit much higher than the actual value of your personal property.
- 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 for the future. If you are starting a new policy, set the effective date to 8 days in the future.
Retiring isn't something you can just do, but if you are retired, make sure you are getting the retiree discount! Retired people are at home more often and more experience homeowners, so they are less likely to file a claim and usually get a discount on their home insurance.
- Maintain Continuous Coverage
A lapse in coverage can be expensive. Many carriers will not quote a homeowner that has a period of no insurance, and those carriers that do 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 great for homeowners too! The paperless discount is usually small (only a few dollars), but a no brainer to add on to your policy.
- Go Shopping
Young Alfred has built the most advanced home insurance shopping tool on the web. We don't need your phone number and never sell customer information, ever. Our technology connects directly with 40+ top insurance carriers to find the best coverage options in your area. We take pride in being the smartest, most customer-friendly agent on earth. We look forward to serving you for years to come!
Now you know how to make home insurance more affordable, let's find you some savings:
At your service,