Protect the ol' Money Pit without Going
in the Hole.

For decades, Texas homeowners insurance was tightly regulated by a state board. Policies were pretty standard and premiums didn't vary much company to company. In the new millennium, things have changed. The state's loosened grip has brought variety and competition to the mix. Rates have come down but coverage has become complex. The most important keys are shopping around and understanding what you're getting. Greta is your resource for both.

Twelve things you can do to save money on homeowners insurance.

homeowners insurance Dallas Texas1. Consult with the "insurance lady." Greta Stogner will find the policy that protects your property without doing catastrophic damage to your bank account. You can shop around, company to company yourself but who needs that headache?

Remember, price alone isn't the only consideration. Think service: a live human you know to talk to when you have a crisis or claim. Think protection: is the insurer reputable, financially solid and highly rated? Will the policy replace what I need to replace without crushing me under premiums?

Talk to Greta and get multiple quotes on a variety of plans.

2. Raise your deductible. Deductibles are the amount of money you have to pay toward a loss before your insurance company kicks in anything. Deductibles on homeowners policies typically start at $250.

Depending on the insurance company if you increase your deductible to:
$ 500 -- save up to 12 percent
$1,000 -- save up to 24 percent
$2,500 -- save up to 30 percent
$5,000 -- save up to 37 percent

Homeowners and property insurance, Mesquite Texas3. Buy both your homeowners and auto insurance policies from the same company. Most companies that sell homeowners, auto and liability coverage will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. Greta and her team will make that happen.

4. Wise up when buying a home. Before you fall in love with that safari wallpaper or built-in toaster shelf, consider how much insuring the place will cost. Just like in humans, a newer home's electrical, heating and plumbing systems and overall structure are likely to be in better shape than those of an older house. Insurers may offer you a discount of 8 to 15 percent if your house is new. And buy your home near a police or fire station and not on a flood plane or nuclear testing ground. You'll come out ahead.

5. Insure your house, not the land. The land under your house isn't at risk from theft, windstorm, fire or the other perils covered in your homeowners policy. So don't include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. If you do, you'll pay a higher premium than necessary. If you must insure your land, take out a war and pestilence policy.

Home and property insurance, Garland Texas6. Improve your home security and safety. You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks. While it may be one, your Smith & Wesson probably doesn't qualify as a security device.

Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that alerts the police or other monitoring facility. These systems can be steep and not every one of 'em qualifies for the discount. Before you buy one of these high-tech gizmos, find out what kind your insurer recommends, how much the device costs and how much you'd save on premiums.

Home and fire insurance, Terrell Texas7. Quit smoking. It's not just for health insurance anymore. Smoking accounts for more than 23,000 residential fires in this country a year. That's why some insurers offer to reduce premiums if all the residents in a house get off their butts. Just say no.

8. Get older. Find senior discounts. Become a senior or live with one that owns a home. Regardless of the time it takes them to get to a phone, retired people stay at home more and spot fires and other disasters sooner than working people (who constantly spot them at the office). They also cook dinner before prime fire alarm times and actually have the spare time needed for maintaining a home. If you're at least 55 years old and retired, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies.

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Don't worry, Greta will add a human touch. Charlotte approves of this.

9. Consider group coverage. This is a long shot but some alumni and business associations and even a few employers have worked out package deals with insurance companies that include a discount for association members. Ask Greta about this kind of plan for your group.

10. Stay with an insurer. Buy the right coverage and stick with it. 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 percent if you stay with them for 3 to 5 years; by 10 percent if you remain a policyholder for 6 years or more.

11. Compare the limits in your policy to the value of your possessions at least once a year. No, we're not kidding. Yes, this is the most painful helpful hint. That means you have to inventory and calculate and meditate. The object is to cover any major purchases or additions and jettison coverage on things you've kicked to the curb or worn out. Our recommendation: if you think it will save you on premiums, hire somebody to do this.

Homeowners insurance Rockwall, Heath Texas12. Make your home more disaster-resistant. Admittedly this one is a bit impractical. You can make your home more resistant to windstorms and similar natural disasters but obviously costs can be significant. You'll have to weigh the advantages over the years you plan to stay in the house. You may be able to save on premiums by adding storm shutters and/or shatter-proof glass and reinforcing your roof with stronger materials. A few insurance companies might give you points for modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage, especially if what you currently have blows.

12 1/2. Look for private insurance first. Say you live in a high-risk area -- one that is especially vulnerable to storms, fires (you live down the street from Mrs. O'Leary's cow), or you live on the side of the tracks corrupted with high crimes and misdemeanors. You've always bought some government plan (Texas FAIR Plan Association is one) because you were high risk. Check again. Greta may be able to guide you through some steps that would get you lower priced insurance off the private market.

Our thanks to the Insurance Information Institute for some of the above suggestions.

How to buy homeowners insurance TexasOne other thing: improve your credit score. Most insurance companies take your personal credit into account when they price your insurance policies. If your credit score is healthy, your homeowner's insurance rates will be lower. If you have overdue credit accounts, too many open accounts, or charges close to the limits of your credit cards, you're screwed. Expect to pay more in premiums.





Property Insurance Exposed | How to Buy Homeowners Insurance
Stuff that Affects Your Homeowners Premiums | Renters Insurance
Inventory Your Possessions | Request an Online Quote



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