This story is part ofCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
Whether you just bought a home or have lived in the same house for years, one thing remains the same: If you have a mortgage loan, you are required to purchase a homeowners insurance policy. While the average cost of home insurance in the U.S. this year is $1,383, those rates are rising, in part due to inflation and supply chain issues, according to CNET affiliate Bankrate.
“Home insurance isn’t just required for anyone with a loan — it’s critical to protecting what for most people is our most important financial asset, our home,” said Douglas Heller, director of insurance for the Federation of Consumers of America, a nonprofit consumer research and advocacy organization.
The cost of your home insurance is affected by several factors, including the location, age and condition of your home. But despite rising rates, there are still ways to lower your bill, potentially by hundreds of dollars a year.
Here are seven ways you can save money on your homeowner’s insurance. (You can also find out how to save money from, and .)
1. Shop around
Whether you’re in the process of buying a house and looking for an insurance provider, or you’ve lived in your house for years, it’s a good idea to compare insurance premiums from different companies. They can vary widely, says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications for the Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit that aims to help people understand insurance.
2. Consider loyalty discounts
Insurance companies often give loyalty discounts, which is something to consider if you’ve worked with the same providers for a long time before switching. But even if you’re getting a loyalty discount, it’s still worth shopping around because it’s very possible to find a rate that offers similar coverage but costs less, Ruiz says.
3. Ask about packages
It’s simple, Ruiz explains, butwith one provider can get you a discount on rates for both.
4. Make improvements (or tell your insurance provider about the changes you’ve already made)
If you’ve made any improvements to your house — especially things like plumbing and electrical work — let your insurance carrier know. Plumbing and electrical problems are common expensive problems that insurance companies pay for, and making improvements can result in a lower premium for you, Ruiz says.
You can even work with your insurance agent to come up with a checklist of improvements or investments you can make over time to get a lower premium, Heller says.
5. Schedule regular home insurance reviews
Your home insurance is automatically renewed every year. Next time it comes up, check your coverage and contact your provider if you’ve made any changes to your home. It’s also best practice to do a home insurance check with your provider every few years to make sure your cover is still suitable for your circumstances. For example, maybe you drive an older car that isn’t worth much and you don’t want the same amount of collision insurance as you would for a newer car.
These are relatively short conversations, says Ruiz: “Take 15 minutes. It will save you a lot of grief if you have a loss.”
6. New home buyers: Don’t wait until the last minute
Securing a home insurance policy is usually one of the last steps before closing on a house during the buying process. But this is not recommended. “I’ve seen so many people end up with a high price policy because they just waited until the last minute or didn’t realize it would take a few days,” says Heller.
Instead, start shopping for homeowners insurance as soon as your offer is accepted, Heller says. That way, you’ll have time to explore all the options and find the best price.
7. Estimate your deductible
Over the past decade or more, insurance companies have moved from a standard dollar deductible — say, $500,000 on your policy — to a percentage deductible. You may have a deductible that is 1% of your coverage, so if you have a $200,000 policy, the insurance company will not pay for damages under $2,000.
“It’s important to know how this works, and you may be able to choose a lower or higher deductible to save money on your premium if you can cover out-of-pocket,” says Heller. There’s a caveat, though: When insurance companies give you savings, you’re usually giving them less responsibility for the claim and taking on more risk yourself.
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