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How can I save money?

The price you pay for your homeowners insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of your house and the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here are some ways to save money.
 
Shop around

Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information on the Internet. Your state insurance department may also provide comparisons of prices charged by major insurers.

Check the financial health of insurance companies by using ratings from independent rating agencies and consulting consumer magazines.

Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some sell through their own agents. These agencies have the same name as the insurance company. Some sell through independent agents who offer policies from several insurance companies. Others do not use agents. They sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet.

But don't shop price alone. You want a company that answers your questions and handles claims fairly and efficiently. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. Contact your state insurance department to find out whether they make available consumer complaint ratios by company.

Select an agent or company representative that takes the time to answer your questions. Remember, you'll be dealing with this company if you have an accident or other emergency.
 
Raise your deductible

A deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company starts to pay a claim. The higher your deductible, the more money you save on your premium. Consider a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise it to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent.

If you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for damage from major disasters. If you live near the coast in the East, you may have a separate windstorm deductible, if you live in a state vulnerable to hail storms, you may have a separate deductible for hail, and if you live in an earthquake-prone area, your earthquake policy may have a deductible.
 
Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer

Most companies that sell homeowners insurance also sell auto and umbrella liability insurance. (An umbrella liability policy will give you extra liability coverage.) Some insurance companies will reduce your premium by 5 percent to 15 percent if you buy two or more insurance policies from them. But make certain this combined price is lower than buying the coverages from different companies.
 
Make your home more disaster-resistant

Find out from your insurance agent or company representative what you can do to make your home more resistant to windstorms and other natural disasters. You may be able to save on your premiums by adding storm shutters and shatter-proof glass, reinforcing your roof or buying stronger roofing materials. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. In addition, consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage.
  
Don't confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs

The land under your house isn't at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don't include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. If you do, you'll pay a higher premium than you should.
 
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