*This post was sponsored by Liberty Mutual. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!
You can’t close on a home without providing proof of purchasing homeowner’s insurance. Still, with all the moving parts that come with buying your first home, it’s understandable if one doesn’t rate shop. Who has time for that when you’re preparing for closing, right? Most don't even know hot to shop for home insurance properly, or what the process even entails.
Perhaps you just went with whoever does your auto insurance, or the company your parents have homeowners insurance with. It’s no big deal; the first year after you buy a home is a great time to re-evaluate how much you’re spending on homeowners insurance.
While finding a new, more cost-effective policy for your biggest financial asset may seem like a big chore, it’s actually easier than you think and you could be rewarded for your efforts with hundreds of dollars in savings. This means extra cash for those other “adulting” milestones like saving for retirement or putting away money for your kid’s college expenses.
Below are three simple steps that educate on how to shop for home insurance – the right way.
Step #1 – Evaluate Your Existing Policy
The first step to finding new homeowners insurance is to evaluate your existing policy. Did you do this when you first bought the home? If not, look at what your existing policy covers. At a minimum most homeowner policies cover:
- Any damages or repairs needed for the physical structure of the home itself.
- Repair and/or replacement of any personal valuables inside the home.
- Living expenses if temporarily displaced from your home.
Some homeowners’ policies also cover personal liability, while others may not, which is why it’s important to double-check. Once you’re aware of what your policy covers, do an inventory of your home items to determine if you need additional coverage. If you acquired any new collectibles, expensive jewelry or other personal valuables, it could be worth it to think about investing in additional coverage.
Step #2 – Comparison Shop for Insurance Rates
Once you assess your policy needs, you can shop for coverage with these parameters in mind. As a warning, it can be time-consuming to comparison shop for rates across multiple insurance companies, but the search is definitely well worth the effort.
Ask yourself, what would you do if you saved an extra $200 a month on your homeowners' insurance? What specifically would you do with the money? It’s always important to evaluate how much you spend on bills at least once a year (called a bill or “utility” audit) and find areas where you can save.
Shopping for insurance quotes is deceptively simple: you shop in much the same way you’d shop multiple rates for auto insurance: using online quotes, calculators and comparison tools, and by calling companies on the phone. They’ll likely ask you for the following information in order to prepare a quote:
- Identification information for you.
- The address of your home.
- If you’ve done any recent upgrades or repairs.
- The condition of some of the items in your home.
Once you’ve done your research, don’t be tempted to pick a provider based on the lowest price. You want to get a sense for how much customer service each company delivers too: how quickly could you get in touch with them in the event of an emergency, how easy it is to file a claim. These details matter if something unforeseen happens to your home!
Step #3 – Research Additional Ways to Save
If the quotes you’re getting aren’t lowering your monthly premiums enough, consider researching additional ways to save money on your homeowners' insurance.
First, always ask: what’s included and what’s not included in the policy they’re quoting you for. Remember that insurance agents are salesmen, and they may be quoting you for a fancy plan with the coverage you don’t really need. By asking upfront, you can avoid any unexpected fees or surprises.
Second, consider a higher deductible in exchange for a lower monthly payment. A deductible is an amount the homeowner must pay before the insurance company will pay out on a claim. So, if you have a $5,000 deductible, you’ll have to pay that amount in the event of a home emergency. Most homeowner’s policy require only a $500 minimum deductible, but going above to $1,000 or $5,000 could substantially lower your monthly payment, provided you keep a healthy emergency fund in the event you need to file a claim.
Finally, ask what discounts your home may qualify for: home security systems, smoke alarms, disaster-proofing the roof and windows, gated communities, good credit, and bundling different types of insurance (multi-policy quotes for the win!) are easy ways to save on insurance. Again, you may have to ask in order to receive these discounts!
Shopping for homeowner’s insurance doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact, it’s probably one of the easiest parts of being a homeowner. Click here to get a quote from Liberty Mutual and see how much you can save!