Whether you own or rent your home within a homeowners association, insurance is essential to protect your property and household goods. Comparison shopping for the best rates will certainly save you some money, but you also can save by following these tips:
- Choose a higher deductible—increasing your deductible by just a few hundred dollars can make a big difference in your insurance premium.
- Ask your insurance agent about discounts. Dead bolts, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security systems, storm shutters and fire-retardant roofing material are just some of the home safety features that can often lower your rate. You also may be able to get a lower premium if you are a long-term customer or if you bundle other coverage, such as auto insurance, with your provider. Some companies also offer senior discounts for customers who are older than 55 years.
- Don’t include the value of the land when you are deciding how much coverage to buy. If you insure your house, but not the land under it, you can avoid paying more than you should. Even after a disaster, the land will still be there.
- If you’re a renter, don’t assume your landlord carries insurance on your personal belongings. She or he likely doesn’t. Purchase a separate renters’ policy to be sure your property—like furniture, electronics, clothing and other personal items—is covered.
Don’t wait until you have a loss to find out whether you have the right type and amount of insurance. For example, many policies require you to pay extra for coverage for high-ticket items like computers, cameras, jewelry, art, antiques, musical instruments, and stamp and coin collections.
Furthermore, not all coverage will replace fully what is insured. An “actual-cash-value” policy will save you money on premiums, but it only pays what your property is worth at the time of loss (your cost minus depreciation for age and wear). “Replacement” coverage gives you the money to rebuild your home and replace its contents.
Finally, a standard homeowners’ policy does not cover natural disasters like flood and earthquake damage. The cost of a separate earthquake policy depends on the likelihood of earthquakes in your area.
Most important, have your insurance provider contact your homeowners association insurance provider to make sure that you are not purchasing a policy that is already covered by your HOA. Insurance agents will usually request a copy of your governing documents which will allow them to understand owner responsibility vs. Association responsibility. They are happy to help steer you in the right direction for coverage.