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6 Tips For Buying Homeowners Insurance

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 | October 17, 2019

There are a lot of ins and outs when buying homeowners insurance, and we know it can feel a little overwhelming at times. We asked one of our expert InsuraMatch insurance advisors, Seth, to help us pinpoint the biggest areas of concern, so we can give you the best tips you need to have top of mind when buying homeowners’ insurance. 

Check out these 6 top tips that change the game of buying homeowners insurance.

6 Tips for Buying Home Insurance

1. Use an independent agent.

The best way to overcome the homeowners insurance overwhelm in the first place is to outsource it.

When you get quotes directly from an insurance carrier, their agents are motivated to sell that company’s policies at their prices. You don’t want to rely on a single insurance agent, because you’re not really getting the full picture.

“By looking at what multiple companies have to offer, you can compare rates to find one that works for your budget,” says Seth.

But who has time to “shop around”? Comparing quotes from multiple agencies yourself takes a lot of time, energy, and headache.

That’s why you want to work with an independent agent. They’ll help you compare similar quotes from a number of carriers—in just minutes. They’ll do all the heavy lifting for you, so you can save time by simply stepping in for the final decision.

You’ll not only get to see different coverage options and prices, but your agent can also give you insight into other important aspects of the insurance company like support, accessibility, and how to submit a claim. They’re your point person when deciding how much coverage you’ll need for your home—without any commitments to a specific carrier.

Independent insurance agencies, like InsurMatch, aren’t motivated to push you towards a specific company or policy. The goal is to find you the best coverage plan, insurance carrier, and price that works for you.

Read related: The Benefits of Using an Independent Insurance Agency to Shop for Insurance

2. Know your coverage.

Not all homeowners insurance policies look the same. Coverage can differ by carrier, even if it the policy looks the same at first glance. When deciding on your policy, you’ll especially want to look at:

  • Which perils are covered versus those that are excluded,
  • What your coverage limits are, and
  • Whether the company is offering replacement cost or actual cash value. 

First-time homeowners or insurance owners need to be especially aware of their coverage. You don’t know what you need until you need it! That’s another reason why working with an agent is so important. An independent agent can look at your individual needs to ensure your policy fits you.

If you need help deciding what coverage you need for your homeowners insurance policy, give one of our expert insurance advisors a call at (844) 300-3237 today!

3. Check your deductibles.

Always be aware of your deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you are responsible out of pocket before your insurance company steps in to pay for a claim in the case of a covered peril.

For example, let’s say you have a $1,000 deductible for your dwelling coverage. A storm hits and a tree falls through your house, causing $10,000 in damage. You are responsible to pay $1,000—your deductible—and your insurance will pay the remaining $9,000 (as long as it’s within your coverage limit).

You want to make sure you’d be able to pay your deductible costs out of pocket. If your deductible is too high, you could end up not being able to repair your home or replace your belongings in the case of an incident.

You also want to take note of how your deductible is defined on your policy. Some policies list the deductible as a percentage of your Coverage A (dwelling/structure). This can be deceiving. For example, let’s say you have a $300,000 home. Your deductible is listed as 3%, which seems like a low deductible. But that’s actually equivalent to $9,000. You’d have to shell out $9,000 in the case of a claim.

Seth tells us, “If you’re not comfortable paying that amount out of pocket, you’ll want to slightly raise your premiums so you can have a flat deductible of $1,000.”

You won’t always be able to play around with your deductible if you’re in a high-risk area, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around to find a lower deductible at a more affordable price.

4. Get a CLUE.

The CLUE report is a claims report generated by LexisNexis, which is a consumer reporting agency. CLUE will show you up to seven years of claims history on your home, whether or not you owned the house. This can give you an idea of how many claims the previous owners had to submit, so you can see what kinds of risks you may also run into. You may want to focus on “claim” areas in case there are needs for repair or updates. For example, if they submitted three flood claims in seven years, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance and installing flood safety measures.

Insurance companies will also check the CLUE report, so you don’t want to get caught unaware. A lot of previous claims may raise your rates and premiums—even though you didn’t submit those claims. Your carrier will look to see which of those claims were “unpredictable” and put your house at a higher risk for damage—like frequent flood or natural disaster claims. (If the last owner had a lot of dog bite liability claims, this likely wouldn’t impact your rate because that wasn’t related to the house itself.)

5. Bundle up.

Bundling different forms of insurance can save you a lot of money. Many insurance carriers offer discounts to homeowners who bundle their home and auto. This doesn’t mean you have a shared policy for both; it just means that you’re purchasing both policies from the same carrier. Learn more about how bundling can help you save on your insurance here.

A lot of insurance carriers will offer other discounts to homeowners as well, especially if you install safety features. Check out these 11 safety features that can lower your homeowners premiums. Talk to your insurance agent to find areas where you can save on your premiums.

Could we help you save? Call an insurance advisor at (844) 300-3237  today to review your homeowners insurance policy to find ways to save.

6. Don’t forget your dog. 

“Always disclose your dog. It shouldn’t even be a question,” Seth urges. Dogs—of any breed—can be a huge liability. You never know when a dog could feel threatened and act out of fear, biting a stranger or even a family member. If someone sues you for a dog bite, you could be on the hook for thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars. Disclosing your dog helps ensure dog bites are covered under your homeowners liability policy.

Liability claims aren’t always caused by physical acts of aggression either. Your dog could do damage to someone else’s property. Maybe he pees on your friend’s laptop who stayed over for the night, or he chewed up your neighbor’s fence. Your homeowners property damage liability can help cover your dog’s other mishaps.

In most cases, dogs won’t affect home insurance rates. Some “hot dog” breeds may affect your rates, but you can shop around to find a carrier with lower rates for your pup.

Keep in mind, if you don’t disclose your dog, any incidents relating to your dog won’t be covered under your insurance. What’s more, if your insurer finds out you have a dog that you didn’t disclose, they have the right to cancel your homeowners’ policy altogether.

Conclusion

Protecting your home, one of your biggest investments, is important. With so much money on the line, it can be overwhelming to navigate the insurance buying process. Hopefully these 6 tips will help you find the right coverage. You can make getting homeowners insurance easier with just one top tip: use an insurance agent to help guide you through the process!

 

Compare home insurance quotes with one of our expert insurance advisors at (844) 300-3237 today.

Not by the phone? Request a quote or schedule a call online: