25 Insurance Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Homeowners

May 15, 2020 | Personal Insurance

Owning a house takes a lot of responsibility and paying all the bills takes a lot of hard work. Hence, thinking for a way to lower our expenses is a must. And knowing some ways to prevent financial risk can help a lot. Here are some hacks that can help you:

1.Bundling Bundling your home insurance to other types of insurance like auto insurance under one insurance company. This is one of the best ways to save money. You c an save up to 20% on your premiums by doing so. Aside from the fact that you can save, insurance companies value their loyal customers who keep all of their insurances with them. 

2.Raising Deductibles- Deductibles are the amount of money that you need to pay before the insurance kicks in. You can decrease your insurance premium by raising your deductibles. But doing so, you should make a good strategy. Of course, you don’t want to make a huge increase in your deductibles that you could not afford at all in case you need to make a claim. You need to make a calculation of how much you can pay. For example, you choose to increase your deductibles to $2,500. Then an accident happened and you filed a claim for $5,000 worth of damage.  You need to pay $2,500 first before the insurance pays the remaining $2,500. Being said, this hack only works for someone who can pay extra anytime.  

3.Make a list- If you are just about to buy homeowners’ insurance; the first thing that you need to know is how much will you need to insure your house for. And the fastest way for you to determine your house and personal belongings value is from making a list. The technique is going through each room, listing all of your valuables, everything from your bed, closets, couches, to your clothes,  bags, and shoes. All of the things from your living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom must be listed. Remember, we don’t want your house to be underinsured. So you better be meticulous. 

4.Smoke Detectors – As they say, it’s better safe than sorry. Being extra cautious can never be overrated. The reason why it’s called an accident, it’s because no one saw it coming. When you own a house with your family living in it,  being careful is always the first option. And the best way to avoid an accident is to be prepared. Installing security alarms for smoke detectors, which is pretty common to most houses ever since is a must. Records show that 82% of homeowners are using smoke detectors. Though insurance companies have a low claim of damages because of fire, still the losses from this peril have the highest average cost of $45,000. 

5.Discounts– Asking about discounts is always an option. Make sure to ask everything you want to know to your insurance agent. Some insurance companies give discounts if they can prove that no one in your family smokes.  Also if the owners of the house are already retired and can’t pay high premiums. 

6.Make an Annual Payment- Yearly payment of your premiums can avoid admin fees.  Make it a habit to make all of your finances updated and paid on time. Doing so, aside from you having a good record,  your insurance company will surely keep their customers who are responsible. 

7.Be a Smart Buyer- Be smart in buying your home.  Think about everything that can affect the cost of your insurance. We know that there’s already a ton of things that you need to consider when buying a house. You need to look for a safe neighborhood. The place should be accessible to the market,  church, school and hospital. Things like that are already too much to handle all at once. But buying a house is not like buying new shoes that you can replace anytime. You need to think ahead and analyze each and every part of it. Remember, the better the condition of your house is the lower the premiums. So check your prospect house from roof to bottom.  Brand new houses are often less expensive to insure. Over time the old house’s electrical system wears off. The same goes with the heating system and plumbing. Also, it should be at least not in a peril prone area. Houses in areas that are prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms, for example, tend to pay a higher amount of premiums. Same with areas that have a high-crime rate. 

8.Focus on your needs and what’s important- You can only say that what you’re paying for is worth it if you are spending it on something you truly need. If you just have standard homeowners insurance and you are living in a tornado prone area.  Make sure to add a policy that covers tornado damages. Same thing if you love art and have a collection of paintings. You need to have a policy as well that covers that. The same goes with jewelry and antiques. Check all your important belongings. If you think that you need to add extra coverage to your insurance, then it’s best to talk to your insurance agent about it.  

9.Cleanliness is next to safety- Keeping clean surroundings can do more good than you already think. Aside from the fact that you can avoid a lot of germs and viruses. Staying neat can also save you from accidents.  Many claims from different insurance companies came from a fire caused by a ‘ clothes dryer ‘. Maintaining the cleanliness of your appliances is a must. You can even see it in the manual after you open the box. Too much dust,  clogged pipes, and dirt can ignite and cause a fire in an instant. 

 10.Don’t set timers to your appliances without someone at home- In this age where technology is pretty basic to use; setting timers to almost everything is no new.  Like setting the washing machine and dishwasher on a timer before you head off to work and no one is at home monitoring it.  We all know that that is one of the perks of buying an automatic machine right? But this habit can lead to certain accidents. What if water leaked already and no one is around to see it. Flood due to water pipe breakage is a common claim to insurers. Not to be paranoid but prevention is always a good idea. 

11.Make an Annual Assessment- Reevaluate your policies. Take note of every change in your house. Have you had a renovation or added another fixture in your living room or kitchen, things like that.  Make sure to check if you are not underinsured. Remember, any upgrade in your house needs an upgrade as well in your insurance. This may sound extra money to pay but who knows when you will need to make a claim? Everyone is busy with everyday life that we always forget about the important things. One more thing to think about is this.  How many times do you shop? It may be a new bag, a set of plates, new shoes, and nice carpets. Most of us didn’t realize how much we already spent with every little thing. But if all of that stuff piled up, you will surely be surprised how much they cost. So if you are buying something whether it’s for you, your kids or your house every now and then.  How much will it cost for a year? How much does it add up on the number of your personal belongings? Then go over your insurance policy again. If you think you are still properly insured, then good. But if not, your best bet is to talk to your insurance agent about it. 

12.Securing your expensive valuables- Talking about being underinsured.  If you have standard homeowners insurance, your expensive jewelry might not be covered.  Let say you have a diamond set of necklace and earrings from your grandma. You happen to have no alarm system in your house and someone stole your diamond set.  In standard insurance, jewelry, watches, and furs are covered. However, there are limits of liability for items like theft of jewelry. It has a low limit of liability for theft about $1,500. The reason for this is that jewelries can be easily stolen.  Due to its vulnerability, filing a claim for stolen jewelry will be very common. Being said, raising your limit of liability may be the answer. It is a less expensive option that you can choose from. Though there are still limits like for example, each piece limits for $2,000. So if you make a claim that your necklace has been stolen, the maximum limit is just $2,000 for that piece. But the overall limit is $5,500. The second option is to purchase a “ floater  policy” and “schedule “ your valuables individually. This can cover if ever you lost your bracelet in the market or you drop your ring to the sink.  

13.Clogged Drains- Sounds petty? Think again.  During winter, snow can pile up in your drains.  Make sure to clean and clear it all the time. There are claims regarding clogged drains due to frozen ice. Yes, that’s right! That happens. The snow that piled up in your roof can melt then freeze again. It can result in blockage and water leaks inside your house. See how a small thing can be a big pain if neglected.  

14.Time and effort saver strategy – Bundling your home and auto insurance under one company will not only save you money. It will also save you time and effort if ever you need to make a claim. For example,  a tree in your backyard fell into your car. Instead of you filing a separate claim to two different companies and talking to different agents; you just need to process it all at once. Also,  since you just have your insurance on one roof, your bills can be modified as well in one account. Easy-peasy! 

15.Leak Sensor- According to the Insurance Information  Institute’s calculations, water damage is second to the highest most claim in some insurance companies. That’s why having a leak sensor installed at home is one of the cheapest ways for you to prevent water leakage from happening. The most basic leak sensor sounds the alarm once it detects the water from leaking.  However, there is already the latest version of it where the leak sensor can send alerts to your mobile phone and can even automatically turn off your water system if it detects a leakage. 

16.Talk to your insurance agent- Never hesitate to ask your insurance agent about anything you want to know about your insurance policy. Many homeowners don’t take much time in communicating with their insurers. This is a common mistake a lot of homeowners make. It’s always best to tell them what you want and expect as a customer. Make sure that your house is well covered and you are not under or over insured. Good communication is the key to a healthy relationship with your insurance company.

17.Know your house’s history- Before your purchase, a house that’s not brand new, make sure to know its claim history. All insurance companies have a record of all their clients. If it happens that your house has several claims from its previous owners; there is a big chance that looking for an insurance company to accept you will be a big challenge. 

18.Umbrella Policy– If you just want to have standard homeowners insurance but need to exceed the limit of a certain policy,  then you might need an umbrella policy added to your insurance plan. Ask your insurance agent about this option to properly understand it’s coverage. 

19.Falling Trees- This is one of the most common claims. Who doesn’t like to smell fresh air when you open your window or go outside at your patio right? But as much as we love the ambiance of nature, we must prevent any cause of a claim as well. There are lots of claims about a tree falling on their houses and even on their neighbor’s houses. Also, trees falling on their cars.  To avoid that, make sure that your trees are always groomed and inspect it once in while if it’s still fixed to the ground. Little stuff like that can prevent you from further damage. 

20.Scheduled Personal Property- It is a policy that extends coverage above the standard protection that a homeowners insurance have. So if you want to guarantee that your expensive valuables are all covered. You might want to consider adding a “schedule “ to your policy.

21.Avoid unguarded parties- When we say unguarded, it means parties with no parental supervision. Let’s be honest. We can’t say that life is perfect and our children are always at their best behavior at all times. Having a party without any grown ups or matured individuals is already a big risk of having little accidents. How much more with a party with so many teenagers drinking all over the house. To avoid personal liability claims, make sure you only have to have controlled parties with guardians present or parental supervision. 

22.Peril prone areas- As much as possible avoid buying a house in peril prone areas. Areas that are prone to wildfire, tornadoes,  hail, and storms. These natural disasters have a huge impact on how much your home insurance will be. Houses residing in disaster prone areas have a higher amount of insurance than a regular home. It’s because of the obvious reason,  a bigger chance of filing a claim. 

23.It’s ok to shop around- Checking different insurance providers is truly advisable. The best way to determine what provider to choose is by looking for a trusted agent that you can talk to and feel comfortable with. 

24.Starting with the basic plan at first is fine- Insurance is important as it is;  however we understand that this is an additional bill that you need to pay. But the good news is, you can always start with the most standard homeowner’s insurance. If you just want to make sure you are at least insured if ever something happens. Starting with the most basic insurance is ok because you can always add another policy once you have the extra money. 

25.Avoid unnecessary small claims- Some homeowners just want every damage to be covered, and sometimes even files the smallest claims. But we need to be mindful. If you have a broken window and you think you can just fix it yourself, don’t file a claim. Insurance companies might find you more of a risk if you keep on filing claims every time a small incident happens. 

If after reading this cheat sheet you still feel the need for a more thorough review of your existing policy or just want to know which is the best homeowner’s insurance that will fit your needs, contact us today and we’ll get you sorted out.

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