Most money-saving tips have a secondary side effect, such as increasing out-of-pocket costs after a disaster or no coverage at all for something you may need.
MIAMI – Living in a Barbie’s World is getting more challenging as homeowners’ insurance rates soar. But, there are ways you might be able to keep those costs grounded – at a risk, of course.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida homeowners could see their property insurance rates jump by 40% in 2023. NerdWallet reports the average cost for home insurance in Florida is $2,385 in July or about $199 a month.
Examining several sources and speaking to property owners and those familiar with insurance regulations, we came up with 20 ways homeowners could save on those rising premiums.
In no particular order (and only if the mortgage company does not have restrictions on adjusting the policy):
1. Raise your deductible: Most insurance companies reportedly recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25%. If you have a $1,000 deductible, you could save an average of 11% a year by increasing it to $2,500, according to NerdWallet’s rate analysis.
2. Drop non-essential coverage: Outside walls, gazebos, sheds, and fences often are add-ons to the standard policy, costing you more each year. Save that money for a rainy day.
3. Don’t make small claims: Some insurers offer discounts if you remain claim-free for a certain period of time, usually a few years. According to a NerdWallet analysis, a wind damage claim raises your annual insurance cost by about 9%, so something minor, such as screens or a window, could be repaired for less.
4. Shop wisely: Douglas Heller, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, recommends researching home insurance prices three ways: online, with an agent at a brand-name company, and through an independent agent (or broker) that represents several insurers. You can obtain information about insurance companies through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
5. Reinforce your property: Installing storm-resistant shutters, impact-resistant windows, and roof straps are all best precaution measures. But, unless the entire (or bulk of, in some cases) mitigation list from your insurer is checked off, such as not having an upgraded garage door, the discount won’t apply.
6. Bundle your insurance: Did you know that bundling auto and home with the same company can save you 5% to 15% on your homeowners’ premium? It doesn’t hurt to try.
7. Erase the sinkhole coverage: If your plan includes sinkhole coverage, and you’re not in a designated location for sinkholes, your insurance company should allow you to drop it. That, alone, can save hundreds of dollars.
8. Remain with the same insurer: Loyal customers can often get a 5% or even 10% discount, based on the years they’ve been insured with the same company. But keep comparing!
9. Ask for discounts: Are you a non-smoker? According to a report from Coastal Insurance, many companies are required to offer discounts to clients when they request them but might need to be more upfront about it. Paperless billing, auto-pay, or even teachers or firefighters, might rate a discount. If you’re at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10% at some companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
10. Know what you’re getting: Heller says to shop with insurers protected by a state guaranty fund, which pays out claims if the company is insolvent, and find the ones that offer replacement cost policies rather than on depreciated value or actual cash value (e.g., a 15-year-old roof) of the damaged property.
11. Make your home more secure: Smoke detectors, burglar alarms, or deadbolt locks could earn you a 5% discount, says Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. He said you might save as much as 15% to 20% if you have a comprehensive sprinkler system and an actively monitored fire and burglar alarm.
12. Remember the inside: By upgrading your electrical, plumbing and air/heat appliances to lessen the risk of water and fire damage, especially if they are less than 10 years old, you wouldn’t be paying more for insurance. Also, keep an eye on how much the home’s contents are worth insuring – you could save here.
13. Leave out the land: Coastal recommends leaving out the value of the land when assessing the insurance you need since it cannot be endangered by windstorms or theft, or other perils defined in your policy (well, except the sinkholes!).
14. Build your credit score: More and more insurers are using credit data to set prices for policies, but most states require the insurer to advise the client so that they can make sure the data used is accurate. The best advice ever: Pay your bills promptly. Do not apply for more credit than needed, and maintain a low balance.
Believe it or not, someone with poor credit could pay 94% more for homeowners insurance than someone with good credit, on average, according to NerdWallet’s rate analysis.
15. Get rid of “high-risk” stuff: Trampolines, diving boards and playground equipment add to the liability risk, where someone could get hurt. Trees that could fall onto the house also should be trimmed. Removing these could save on your policy.
16. Install leak and temperature detectors: Insurance companies can reduce your rates by 5% when you install temperature and leak detection systems to help detect a broken water heater or pipe, saving thousands in the long run.
17. Private insurance or government?: If you live in an area vulnerable to coastal storms, for example, and you’re under a government plan such as Citizens, it could be less expensive to go to a private company. The advice from the Insurance Information Institute is to contact an insurance agent or broker, or even ask the State Department of Insurance (by e-mail) for names of companies that might want your business.
18. Buyer beware: Did you know you might pay less for insurance if you buy a house close to a fire hydrant or in a community with a professional, rather than a volunteer, fire department? If you live in the East, consider a brick home because it’s more wind resistant. Check the CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) report of the home you are considering buying (although they will ask personal questions). But it could save you 5-15%.
Hot tubs, pools, and even certain dogs can add to the liability protection costs. And, if the property is in a flood-prone or earthquake-prone area, you’ll have to shell out extra insurance for that, too.
19. Review your policy: It’s always a good idea to annually review the value listed on your policy (usually called Dwelling Limit or Coverage A) in a face-to-face meeting with your insurer. You’d be surprised after hearing, “What if we ...”
20. Don’t drop coverage to save money: NerdWallet does not recommend cutting coverage because if disaster strikes, “you’ll be left footing the bill when it’s time to rebuild your home and replace lost belongings.” Instead, analysts say, try getting quotes from private insurance companies. You may find a cheaper option.
And that’s what we all want.
Sources: NerdWallet.com; USA Today; Coastal Insurance; Insurance Information Institute; DIY Round Table.