Friday, January 16, 2009

Cut Your Homeowner's Insurance Bill

In addition to shopping for the best rate for your homeowner's insurance and raising the deductible, there are a number of other ways you can lower the cost:

* Multiple policies. If you purchase your homeowner's, umbrella, and auto coverage from the same company, you may be eligible for a 5 to 15 percent discount on your premiums.

* Add home security. You can usually get at least a 5 percent discount for installing smoke detectors. Beware of overdoing the security thing, though. Some insurance firms will give up to a 15 to 20 percent discount for sophisticated sprinkler systems and burglar alarms connected to a local police, fire, or private security station. But these systems are not cheap. Compare the cost of installing and maintaining such systems with how much they will save. Often, you may find it's cheaper to raise the level of your coverage than to buy a $1,000 security system. But there are other reasons to install a security systemlike safety and peace of mindreasons that can't be measured in dollars,

* Stop smoking. Some companies offer small discounts, but remember everyone in the household must be nonsmokers. Some health insurance policies will cover the cost of quitting; some HMOs even offer a cash bonus if you quit!

* Home improvements. If you replace the old electrical wiring in your home or overhaul the plumbing, you may be entitled to a discount because your house has become more fireproof. But if you add a new room, you may have to boost your coverage because that will increase the replacement cost of the entire house.

* Age has its privileges. Some companies provide discounts to people who are over 55 years old and retired. Their reason is that retired people stay in their houses more than working people and can thus spot fires more quickly.

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