By Robyn A. Friedman
City & Shore Magazine
It’s officially hurricane season, and researchers from Colorado State University’s Tropical Meteorology Project are predicting a slightly above-average season, with 14 named storms expected this year.
That means it’s time to take a peek at your homeowners-insurance policy.
It’s no surprise that Florida has the highest premiums in the nation, according to the Insurance Information Institute. What might be surprising, however, is that homeowners have the ability to reduce those premiums. But the time to act is now.
“To save the most amount of money on their premiums, homeowners can’t wait until 24 hours before the storm to trigger new policies or protections,” says Annmarie Camp, executive vice president of Chubb Personal Risk Services.
The price of homeowners insurance varies widely, based on many factors — the size of your house, its age and location, among others — but discounts may be available. Some homeowners may even be able to save thousands. Here’s what you can do to reduce your premium:
Bundle your policies. According to a study released last October by insuranceQuotes, an online insurance marketplace, consumers in Florida could save an average of $214 per year by bundling their auto and homeowners insurance policies with the same insurer.
Improve your home. Replacing an aging roof or windows or updating electrical or plumbing systems reduces the risk of loss to an insurance company and may qualify for a premium discount.
Protect your home from storm damage. Install hurricane shutters, impact-resistant windows and doors or roof straps. And don’t forget to notify your insurance company that you’ve done so. A 45-minute mitigation inspection that costs about $150 and confirms the existence of these features may literally save you thousands.
Install a security system — especially one that automatically dials the police or fire department.
Raise your deductible. While this doesn’t qualify as a discount, it will reduce your premium. The higher the deductible — i.e., the more financial risk you as a homeowner take on — the lower the premium.
Maintain good credit. Yes, your credit score factors into the rate you’ll pay for insurance. The better your credit, the lower you’ll pay.
Be sure to shop around for insurance. Compare not only price, but also the record the company has for paying claims in a prompt manner and for customer service. Don’t forget to ask the agent about any available discounts that may be available. And consider the cost of insurance before you buy a home. You might save by purchasing a newly built home or one that’s close to a fire station.