Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

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With home improvement season in full swing, it’s the time of year when you might be making upgrades that can protect your home from burglaries, fires, and storms like hurricanes and tornadoes.

Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

If you take steps to make your home safer, your homeowner’s insurance company may reward you with a premium discount, depending on what you’ve done.

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You can get a break on your home insurance premium if you install a burglar alarm or a more sophisticated home security system, which is connected to an outside monitoring system. The discount is likely to be higher with the home security system, says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry group in New York.

Some insurers will ask for an “alarm certificate” that shows your system communicates with local police or a private security company, notes Barry.

The discount: The amount you can save varies, but discounts for stand-alone anti-theft protection range from 2 to 5 percent among insurers in Maine, for example, including travelers and several regional companies, says Gary Blackwell, who operates an independent insurance agency in Corinth. , Maine.

And if you have a home security system, you can shave an additional 2 to 3 percent off the premium, he says.

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If you upgrade the electrical, heating and plumbing systems in your home, your home insurer may lower your premium because your home will be less vulnerable to fires or flooding from a burst interior pipe, which is covered by homeowners insurance.

The discount: Farmers Insurance offers an average, 6 percent reduction in your premium when you completely replace your plumbing during a remodel; you’ll get an additional 2 percent discount if you completely overhaul your electrical system.

For new or renovated homes, Amica offers discounts on the entire premium of up to 33 percent. But Lynn Malloney, a senior assistant vice president at Amica, says the criteria depends on the type of improvement, and eligibility varies from state to state.

Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

In 20 hail-prone states, replacing your roof can trigger a “roof age” discount. In other cases, you may need to install a specific type of roof to get a reduction in your homeowner’s insurance. A number of insurers will reduce premiums for customers in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes or wildfires, for example, if they buy a “reinforced” roof made of stronger materials, said Susan Millerick, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety , based in Tampa, Fla.

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The discount: State Farm offers a discount of up to 35 percent for impact-resistant roofs in some states, to reduce any damage from hail and other wind-borne objects. However, the discount varies depending on location.

Kathy Ziprick, spokeswoman for DaVinci Roofscapes, based in Lenexa, Kan., says customers who have replaced roofs with reinforced versions have reported premium discounts from their insurers ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent, or more. “The discount seems to be the highest in California, where fires are more common,” she says.

When insurers offer discounts due to new roofing, they may only give breaks for certain products from specific manufacturers. Check with your service provider before replacing your roof. For example, State Farm publishes lists of eligible roofing materials for policyholders in 26 states, as well as Alberta, Canada. Among other things, the insurer gives breaks on asphalt composition shingles, clay tiles, concrete tiles, metal and slate shingles.

In states prone to windstorms, adding protective devices such as roof clips can achieve savings. In Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina, for example, USAA offers discounts for other storm-related improvements, such as storm shutters.

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Depending on where you live, adding smoke detectors or sensor systems that detect gas leaks or extreme temperature changes can reduce your insurance bill.

Blackwell, the Maine insurance agent, notes that some of his clients have saved on premiums by installing “freeze alarms”—when they’re not home and the temperature in their homes drops below a predetermined number, the system will trigger a designated contact person by phone, sms or e-mail. That person can then adjust the heat settings.

The discount: Although smoke detectors are required in most parts of the country — and often don’t get a discount — it’s still worth seeing if you can get a break on your premium. Some insurers may offer 2 to 5 percent off those devices, Blackwell says.

Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

For systems that detect gas leaks or extreme temperature changes, Blackwell says some insurers will give a 3 to 5 percent discount.

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State Farm says it offers discounts of up to 6 percent for homes with certain fire, smoke or burglar proofs. Travelers discount homes equipped with smart home technology that lets you know remotely when a fire or burglary occurs.

If you have a home water leak detection system, Farmers Insurance says it shaves an average of 3 percent off the premium charged. Such a detector notifies you almost immediately of probable plumbing leaks. “This gives homeowners the opportunity to turn off the main water valve before too much water damage occurs,” says Farmers’ Kraft.

Your insurer may reward you if you install a generator. A working generator helps ensure that systems and appliances run by electricity—such as central air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and sump pumps—continue to operate during and after a power outage.

Maintaining those systems can reduce the likelihood of costly accidents and insurance claims for hazards such as basements flooded by burst pipes. (Homeowners insurance covers flooding caused by a malfunction in your own home’s systems; for flooding caused by water or mud coming in from outside, you’ll need flood insurance.)

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The discount: Amica offers discounts of 4 to 10 percent on the property portion of its homeowner’s policy, if you have an automatic generator. The specific discount depends on where you live.

Natalie DiCecca, director of operations for Gordon Atlantic Insurance, an agency in Norwell, Mass., says the local carriers her company represents offer discounts between 5 and 10 percent of the homeowner’s premium. On the typical $1,500 policy her clients buy, that’s an annual savings of up to $150 a year.

To qualify, homeowners must show proof to insurers that the generator was permanently installed by a licensed professional, DiCecca says.

Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

There are many other ways to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium. Some insurers offer a 5 percent discount to homeowners in fire-prone areas who, for example, cut dry brush near residences and outbuildings. However, to get the discount, your community must participate in the Firewise program sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association. The program teaches people how to adapt to life with wildfires and encourages neighbors to work together and take action to prevent losses.

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Consumers can also save on the premium by increasing their deductible. Because insurance is meant to cover large losses, a $1,000 deductible is a better choice than a $500 deductible. Of course, with a higher deductible you should be saving more money to cover anything that goes wrong.

Another strategy to save is to buy homeowners and auto policies from one insurer, which can lower premiums for both types of coverage by 20 percent, notes DiCecca.

To make sure you’re getting the best price, you should check with homeowner’s insurance companies every three years or so. Consumer Reports surveys show most people don’t shop for homeowners insurance regularly and could be missing out on significant savings.

If the temperature outside drops below freezing, your pipes may be at risk of bursting. Consumer Reports senior home editor Eric Hagerman explains what to do if this happens to you.

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I cover taxes, retirement planning and many other areas of personal finance. My role: To help you manage your money so you can afford to do what you love and still sleep well at night. My loves: traveling, eating well, showering, singing, exercising, and sleeping well at night. Follow me on Twitter. (@TobieStanger)Written by Heidi RiveraWritten by Heidi RiveraArrow Law Writer, Personal Loans Heidi Rivera is a personal finance writer and reporter for. Her areas of expertise include personal loans, student loans and debt consolidation, in addition to data collection and analysis. Connect with Heidi Rivera on Twitter Twitter Connect with Heidi Rivera on LinkedIn Linkedin Connect with Heidi Rivera via Email Email Heidi Rivera

Edited by Hannah Smith Edited by Hannah SmithArrow Right Editor, Personal Loans Hannah has been editing since late 2022. They aim to provide the most up-to-date information to help people navigate the complexities of loans and make the best financial decisions. Hannah Smith

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Fire Insurance And Diy Home Improvements: Ensuring Proper Coverage

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