Homeowners Insurance Costs Tips

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Do you have all the proper permits and know all the building codes necessary?

Permits, Building Codes & Insurance

Construction and remodeling, no matter how big or small, is not always as simple as it may seem. You need to check with your local municipality to obtain the proper permits and make sure you and whoever is doing the actual work is aware of all the appropriate building codes and ordinances.

These codes are meant to ensure the safety of those doing the work and people living in the home once the construction is finished. Certain renovations may also increase your property value, property taxes, and affect the price of homeowner's insurance. Don't worry - not all remodeling will raise your premiums. Any changes made to your home that increase safety and security may, in fact, reduce your premiums.

Neglecting to do this before construction starts could lead to unpleasant complications. For one, liability coverage may not apply to injuries sustained during or after completion resulting in that specific section of your home. Later damages to anything renovated without the proper permits or adhering to the appropriate building codes could also be excluded from coverage.

Is the contractor insured?

Using Insured Contractors

Whenever you do any renovations or remodeling in your home or surrounding property, make sure that the contractor you choose is insured. The insurance should cover both damages to your property and liability should they or their workers be injured while working in your home. If the contractor uses sub-contractors, make sure that they are insured as well. Obtain all documentation before allowing them to start work on your home so there are unfortunate surprises later.

Doing this will protect you from having to file a claim under your policy and potentially increasing your homeowner's insurance cost. You don't want to have to pay a deductible or run the risk of your rates increasing because of claims that could have been avoided.

Ask for a copy of documentation showing the workers are covered under their own policy. Should any damages or personal injury occur, contact your policy provider immediately and give them the documentation to avoid any problems or confusion.

Is the inspector you chose bonded?

Bonded Inspectors

Before purchasing a homeowner's insurance policy, or even purchasing a home, it is a good idea to have a licensed inspector take a look at the house. This is an expense that is well worth it, because you can get an idea of what needs to be fixed, upgraded or replaced to lower the cost of homeowner‘s insurance.

Make sure that the inspector you choose is bonded/insured. That way, neither your nor your future insurance company will have to pay for any damages or issues relating to something the inspector may have missed. If he or she is not insured, the money will come out of your pocket and your insurance provider's.

You can find bonded inspectors through Yellow Pages or the Insurance Information Institute's Web site.

And don't forget to ask the inspector to bring a copy of his or her insurance documentation for your own records when you speak on the phone.

Are you planning to put a pool in?

Adding a Pool to Your Home & Insurance

Adding a swimming pool to your property can affect your homeowner's insurance costs for a few reasons. Obviously safety has to be taken into account. If neighbors, family and friends, children and others are potentially going to be using the pool, this will need to be factored into liability coverage.

In-ground pools can also add to your property value. Damage done to the pool or surrounding area from an earthquake or other disaster could prove to be costly. Let your insurance provider know when you are planning to add a pool to your property so you can make sure that you are covered in case anything unfortunate happens during landscaping and installation, and that you have all the proper permits and are adhering to appropriate ordinances.

If the addition of a pool is going to increase the replacement value of your home, you want that to be documented and have your policy updated with the correct information.

Do you live in a rural or urban area?

Geography & Insurance Rates

They say in real estate it's all about location, location, location. Well, homeowner insurance costs are affected by geography as well. The area you live in may present specific risks that need to be addressed when it comes time to choose an insurance policy.

On the west coast of the United States, for example, it is more likely that you would consider earthquake protection in your policy. Areas that are prone to seasonal flooding might nudge you into considering flood protection from your provider.

Then there are the materials that your home was constructed with. Buildings that are more susceptible to structural damage from an earthquake, or perhaps more vulnerable to fire damage, will most likely cost more to insure. If you are building or looking to buy a new house, you might want to consider how the house is/was built, for your own safety as well as the cost of insuring the home.

Do you have a dog?

Costly K-9s

Animals can also factor when insurance companies are determining your premiums.

For example, having certain breeds of dogs that are known for being more aggressive could increase the cost of your policy. The reason for this is that insurers associate a higher risk for liability claims with such pets.

Also, certain breeds of animals are considered a higher risk when it comes to biting people. If your pet happens to fall into that category, some companies may increase your rates.

You may be able to convince a company not to raise your rates based on pets by providing documentation of some form of obedience training for the animal. Common dog breeds that might be subject to this raise include Pit bulls, Rottweilers and Dobermans. If you are planning to purchase or adopt a pet, you should check with your insurance company to see if your cost of homeowner's insurance will be affected.

What condition is your home in?

Condition of the Home Being Insured

A lot goes into determining the cost of your homeowner's insurance plan. One major factor is the age and condition of the electrical and plumbing systems. Older pipes tend to be more susceptible to freezing in cold weather or cracking, developing mold and other problems. Older electrical systems are more likely to short out and/or pose a fire hazard.

If your home has one or both of these issues, you policy is likely to be more expensive. In this case, it might be beneficial financially, as well as for safety reasons, to have these systems upgraded. You may have to pay a fair amount to do so now, but it should lower your homeowner's insurance costs in the long run because you will be less likely to file a claim related to one of these issues.

If an insurance provider sees something that they expect to eventually lead to a future claim, they will either ask that you take care of that item beforehand or charge you more because they are anticipating having to deal with it down the road.

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William Pirraglia