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12 ways to save on homeowners insurance

You can save money on homeowner's insurance a number of ways. Discounts from your insurance company are available for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from the type of building material used to build your home to how close you live to a fire station. These discounts will vary by state and insurance company.

Here are 12 ways you can save money on your homeowner's policy:

  1. Shop around.
    Check with many different insurance companies to get rate quotes. Do your friends or family members like their insurance company? Check the Internet using online quotes like the ones here at MSN Money.
  2. Raise your deductible.
    The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance kicks in. Typically, deductibles start at $250.
    Increase your deductible to:
    $500 and save up to 12% on your premiums
    $1,000 and save up to 24%
    $2,500 and save up to 30%
    $5,000 and save up to 37%.
    Just make sure you can afford to pay the higher deductible out of pocket if something should happen.
  3. Buy your home and auto policies from the same company.
    Many companies will give a multiline discount if you buy both homeowner's and auto coverage from them.
  4. Consider insurance when buying a home.
    If you're looking at buying a home, think about the cost of insuring the home. A newer home's electrical, heating and plumbing systems and overall structure are likely to be in better condition than those of an older home. This can lead to a discount on your premiums.
    You'll also want to consider the construction of the home and where you live. If you live on the East Coast, you'll want the house to be able to stand up to wind damage, while on the West Coast, you need to keep earthquakes in mind.
  5. Insure your home, not the land.
    While your home and its contents are at risk from fire, theft, windstorms and other perils, the land your home sits on is not. Don't include the value of the land in deciding how much homeowner's insurance you need to buy.
  6. Improve security and safety.
    Items such as deadbolt locks, burglar alarms and smoke detectors usually can bring discounts of 5% each, depending on the company. Your insurance company may also offer a significant discount of 15% or 20% if you install a sophisticated home-security system. If you're thinking about buying such a system, check with your insurer to see which systems they recommend and which will earn you a discount.
  7. Stop smoking.
    Smoking accidents account for more than 23,000 residential fires every year. Some insurers offer to reduce premiums if no one in the home smokes.
  8. Senior discounts.
    Insurance companies have found that retired people stay at home more and spot fires sooner than working people. Older people also have more time for maintaining their homes. If you're at least 55 years old and retired, you might qualify for a discount of as much as 10%.
  9. Group coverage.
    Alumni and business associations often work out insurance deals with an insurance company, which includes a discount for association members. Ask your association's director about any such deals.
  10. Stay with an insurer.
    If you've kept your coverage with a company for several years, you may receive special consideration. Several insurers will reduce their premiums by 5% after staying with them for three to five years; and some companies will discount you as much as 10% after six years.
  11. Check your policy annually.
    You want your policy to reflect the value of your home and belongings. If you review your policy every year, you will be able to make the necessary adjustments. If, for example, you just sold a valuable painting, you won't need the same amount of coverage. But if you added a garage, you'll need to increase your coverage.
  12. Look for private insurance first.
    If you live in a high-risk area (one that is especially vulnerable to coastal storms, fires or crime) and think you'll be forced to buy homeowner's coverage from your state's high-risk insurance pool, check first with an insurance agent. You may find that you can still buy insurance at a lower price in the private insurance market than from the insurer of last resort.

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