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10 Smart Ways to Save on Homeowners Insurance

Cut down your home owners insurance expense by learning some easy ways to reduce the bill. Check out some quick upgrades that will save you big bucks.

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Install Dead Bolt LocksFamily Handyman

Install Dead Bolt Locks

A door without a dead bolt lock is an invitation to burglars. Install a dead bolt on all exterior doors and cut your homeowner's insurance premiums by at least 5 percent. See how to repair a dead bolt lock if it's giving you trouble. You'll save money by not having to throw it out.

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Install a CO DetectorFamily Handyman

Install a CO Detector

Carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory in some states. They are an inexpensive way to protect your family from this deadly, invisible gas. Installing a carbon monoxide detector shows your insurance company that you're serious about home safety, and it can earn you a discount.

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Pay PromptlyPhoto: Courtesy of Krylon

Pay Promptly

Some insurance companies offer incentives for paying an invoice within 10 days, rather than taking the full 30 days. If your insurer offers a “prompt pay” discount (ask for one, if they don't), it may be worth your while to reprioritize your bill payment schedule. If you're temporarily short on cash, it may even make sense to pay with your credit card. You can also save money if you pay six months in advance. Make sure you stay on top of your bills with an organizer and get your home office put together.

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Install Trouble DetectorsPhoto provided by Zircon

Install Trouble Detectors

Some insurance companies will discount your homeowners insurance premium 2 to 5 percent if you have safeguards in place to warn of plumbing failures. Battery-operated or plug-in temperature sensors ($20 to $60, depending on the type) detect furnace breakdowns and the resulting frozen and bursting pipes. Leak detectors ($15 to $200, depending on the model) use wireless or wired sensors to sound an alarm (battery-operated models), or can be wired to an automatic shutoff valve on your main water line that closes when water touches the sensor.

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Choose a Tough RoofPhoto: Courtesy of Certainteed Corp

Choose a Tough Roof

Standard asphalt shingles take a beating during wind and hail storms. That's why insurance companies offer big discounts (up to 45 percent) for tougher materials. Before you choose a new roof, talk to your agent to learn about the exact discounts for materials other than standard asphalt. In most cases, metal roofing gives you the largest discount, but it also costs two to four times as much as standard asphalt shingles. For a less expensive roof that still qualifies for a discount, consider heavier-grade Class 4 modified asphalt and shake shingles, which come with a 30- to 50-year limited warranty and may be less expensive than replacing a storm-damaged roof.

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Install Storm ShuttersPhoto provided by Stormshutters.com

Install Storm Shutters

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, installing wind-resistant shutters can save you up to 30 percent on the hurricane portion of your premium (often about 60 percent of the total premium in coastal areas), which means an overall savings of almost 20 percent. For an average home, basic metal shutters start at about $700. If your wind premium is $1,000, the shutters would pay for themselves in three to five years. Metal hurricane shutters are easy to install on existing homes. Electrically controlled models are also available.

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Beef Up Your Garage DoorFamily Handyman

Beef Up Your Garage Door

Fierce winds can wreck garage doors. A stronger door might cut your premiums by 10 percent. You have two options: Install a new hurricane-resistant garage door, or use a retrofit kit with horizontal and vertical bracing to strengthen the existing door. A new double-bay residential hurricane garage door can cost as much as $1,200. A retrofit solution for a double-door garage will run about $500. If you have a $1,000 premium, your payback would be about five years.

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Two Homeowner's Insurance Claims to AvoidFamily Handyman

Two Homeowner's Insurance Claims to Avoid

Think twice before filing a claim based on dog bites or water damage. These two claims are the most likely to trigger a premium increase. Dog bites are the largest single cause of homeowner's policy claims. Water damage claims are red flags to insurers because of the costs of eliminating mold and repairing chronic plumbing problems.

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Choose Fire-Resistant SidingPhoto provided by CertainTeed Corp.

Choose Fire-Resistant Siding

If you're installing new siding, install Class A rated fire-resistant materials such as metal, fiber-cement shingles and clapboards, or masonry. Using these materials can reduce your homeowner's insurance premium by up to 20 percent, especially in dry areas of the country that are more susceptible to fire damage.

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Replace Washer HosesFamily Handyman

Replace Washer Hoses

Washing machine hoses that leak or even burst are a common cause of water damage. Some insurance companies offer a discount of up to 10 percent if you replace the rubber hoses on your washing machine with no-burst stainless steel hoses (sold at home centers and hardware stores). In 10 minutes, you could save five times the cost of the hoses on your next bill, but this is a smart move even if your insurer doesn't offer a discount.