9 Ways to Lower Homeowners Insurance Rates
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Homeowners insurance rarely gets much attention, but it could be quietly costing you more money than it should. The good news is insurers provide a variety of discounts and incentives that can help you lower your homeowners insurance premium.
Here are nine ways to save.
1. Increase your deductible
A quick way to reduce your premium is to raise your homeowners insurance deductible, the amount you pay if you have to make a claim. If you have a $1,000 deductible, you could save an average of 11% a year by increasing it to $2,500, according to NerdWallet's rate analysis.
Increasing your deductible puts money in your wallet every month that otherwise would have gone to your insurer. Do the math to see whether the discount is worth it to you, and be sure you have enough saved to cover a bigger out-of-pocket expense if you need to make a claim.
2. Make your home more secure
Even the basics can save you money when it comes to home security.
Having a smoke detector, burglar alarm or deadbolt locks on your home can earn you a 5% discount, says Mark Friedlander, spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute. Adding a comprehensive sprinkler system along with an actively monitored fire and burglar alarm could save you as much as 15% to 20%, he says.
3. Skip small claims
It may be tempting to file a claim with your insurer even when something relatively minor happens. However, you may be better off in the long run if you pay out of pocket for these smaller expenses — some insurers offer discounts if you remain claim-free for a certain period of time, usually a few years.
How much can filing a claim affect your rates? Submitting a claim for wind damage raises your annual cost of insurance by about 9%, on average, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis. If the damage is relatively minor, you could end up paying more in rate increases than the insurer pays for your claim.
4. Ask about lesser-known discounts
Unless you check, you may never know what other savings you might be eligible for. Some insurers offer additional homeowners insurance discounts if you:
Don’t have any smokers living in the house.
Recently bought your home.
Pay your premium via automatic bank payments.
Choose paperless billing.
Work in a specific career, such as teaching, engineering or firefighting.
5. Account for home improvements
If you've improved your home, you may have made yourself eligible for homeowners insurance discounts without even realizing it. Adding features such as storm shutters and impact-resistant roofing — which make your house tougher to damage — could result in insurance savings. You might also earn a discount by upgrading outdated plumbing and electrical systems.
“You can often request a new inspection of your home to evaluate these improvements to maximize your potential discounts,” says Jessica Hanna, spokesperson for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association.
6. Bundle your auto and home insurance
Bundling auto and home insurance with the same company typically saves you 5% to 15% on your homeowners premium, according to data from the Insurance Information Institute. Although it could vary depending on your company, many insurers provide discounts if you buy more than one type of policy from them. See the best home and auto insurance bundles.
7. Build your credit score
It may surprise you to learn that your credit score can have a substantial impact on your home insurance premium. In most states, companies can use a credit-based insurance score to determine your rates. If your insurer thinks your credit score is too low — such as a FICO score under 630 — you may pay higher rates.
Someone with poor credit would pay 94% more for homeowners insurance than someone with good credit, on average, according to NerdWallet’s rate analysis.
If you find that your credit score is low, read your credit report closely to identify any errors. You can elevate your score by taking steps like making loan payments on time and reducing credit card balances. Learn more about how to build credit.
8. Get rid of high-risk stuff
Though it may be fun, having something your insurer deems an “attractive nuisance” — think trampolines, swimming pools or playground equipment — can add to your homeowners insurance premium.
An attractive nuisance is a feature on your property that children could be tempted to play on. If they get injured while doing so, you could be held legally responsible. Because insurers consider this a liability risk, getting rid of those items could save you money on homeowners insurance.
9. Shop around
Rates for identical homeowners insurance coverage can vary widely from one company to the next. Some homeowners could save $1,000 or more a year by finding the cheapest rate, NerdWallet research shows.
Many companies have tools on their websites that allow you to plug in some basic information and get quick home insurance quotes. Comparing different companies’ rates will let you see whether you might be able to save by switching insurers. You can also ask an independent insurance agent or broker to shop around on your behalf.
Not sure where to start? See NerdWallet’s roundup of the cheapest homeowners insurance.
Don’t drop coverage to save money
The one thing we don’t recommend is cutting coverage you might need. If you do that and disaster strikes, you’ll be left footing the bill when it’s time to rebuild your home and replace lost belongings.
If possible, you should also avoid dropping other necessary policies, such as a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. Instead, try getting quotes from private flood insurance companies. You may find a cheaper option.
NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old homeowners from various insurance companies in every ZIP code across the U.S. All rates are rounded to the nearest $5.
Sample homeowners were nonsmokers with good credit living in a single-family, two-story home built in 1984. They had a $1,000 deductible and the following coverage limits:
$300,000 in dwelling coverage.
$30,000 in other structures coverage.
$150,000 in personal property coverage.
$60,000 in loss of use coverage.
$300,000 in liability coverage.
$1,000 in medical payments coverage.
We made minor changes to the sample policy in cases where rates for the above coverage limits or deductibles weren’t available.
We used the same assumptions for all other homeowner profiles, with the following exceptions:
For homeowners with a claims history, we added a single wind damage claim.
To see the effect of changing your deductible, we raised the deductible from $1,000 to $2,500.
We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor,” as reported to the insurer, to see rates for homeowners with poor credit. In states where credit isn’t taken into account, we only used rates for “good” credit.
These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.