Shopping is one of America’s pastimes. It’s fun, therapeutic, and gives us the power to make choices. Shopping for insurance is neither fun nor therapeutic. It does, however, offer more choices to the customer than most people realize, and at the end of the day it can still leave you feeling like “wow, I saved myself a lot of money. Go me.”
You’re probably much better at shopping for shoes, groceries, and electronics than you are at shopping for homeowner’s insurance. If I asked you what features of your cell phone led you to purchase it, you’d probably be able to list several. If I asked you what endorsements on your home insurance policy made it attractive to you, you might say it was the least expensive option and you needed to close on the house so you could move in and enjoy that new heated pool with attached hot tub. Either way, you’re already a smart shopper, but if you had an insurance geek to explain all those nifty features of a homeowner’s policy and how to tweak them in your favor, you may actually sign your policy feeling satisfied.
I'll be your geek. Here are a few things you can do when shopping for home insurance to take a little control in saving yourself some cash.
Know Your Risk Appetite
Allow me to be candid in saying that adjusting coverage on your home policy is not the way to save on premium. This is pretty much fixed based on the value of your home. If you’re looking to reduce premium on a homeowner’s quote, consider the deductible.
At our agency, we usually quote a home policy with the lowest possible deductible, which is 1% of the dwelling amount. For example, if your home is valued at $100,000, and you had hail damage to the roof, you would be responsible for $1000 worth of repairs before insurance kicked in and covered the rest.
You can choose take on a larger deductible, however, and save on your premium every year. You can choose 1.5%, 2%, or even 5%, though each one is a bit riskier. Some people may nevertheless be willing to take on a bit of increased risk in order to lower premium, and may find it worth the extra half-percent if they save, say, $300 each year on their home premium. 2 years with no claims, and in our example the buyer as recovered the potential $500 additional cost.
Look for Discounts
Many carriers include discounts for common features, such as deadbolt locks, fire extinguishers, burglar alarms, and hail-resistant roofs. If your home contains any of these features or you plan to install them at some point, let your agent know.
On the other side of the spectrum, try to avoid things that will result in upcharges. Diving boards are insurance nightmares. They can cause you to be denied coverage or to pay extensively. If you have a large dog such as an Akita, Pitbull, or Husky, let your agent know and they’ll work to find you the right carrier that won’t deny or upcharge you.
You’re closing on your home. Maybe it’s your first home. You’re racking up costs, and all you want to do is get the keys, leave all of your stuff in the moving van, and cannonball into that heated pool with attached hot tub. The last thing you’re thinking about is auto insurance. Agents understand this and don’t want to put more on your plate than you already have. But when you’re getting a quote for the home, ask your agent to include a multipolicy discount, and if you have a spare few minutes, send them over your current auto policy and see if they can quote something for you that matches coverage and beats the price. This is a lot easier than it seems at first, and usually you’ll save money by bundling your home and auto insurance sooner rather than later.
Don’t Sweat it, Follow Up
Finally, getting your insurance in place for your closing does not have to be stressful or leave you feeling like you’re helplessly shelling out yet another check in order to secure one of the biggest assets of your life. It can be customized to fit your needs exactly, and with just a little knowledge and communication with your agent, you really can find the best possible option.
That being said, sometimes the initial quote needs a little adjusting. Far too many people see a quote, think it’s the only option, and decide to start the process with a new company entirely, which can result in less coverage or higher deductibles without the customer’s knowledge. To really get the most out of the quoting process, follow up with your agent after the initial quote. Play with the numbers a bit, see what happens when you adjust those deductibles or add that multipolicy discount. If you have another quote from another source, ask your agent to compare. The customers that do this are the ones who end up satisfied with their insurance situation for years, because all parties put in their due diligence at the beginning.
When you’re buying a cell phone, or a house, for that matter, you can choose what features you do and don’t want in order to obtain a price that fits your budget. You can do the same with insurance. Use the
geeks agents to your advantage – let them be your catalogue. Shop, play with numbers, make your purchase, and then go enjoy that hot tub. You’ve earned it.