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Choose Fire-Resistant Siding
These things can raise your homeowner's insurance rates:
- A swimming pool (especially with a diving board), a hot tub or a trampoline.
- A dangerous condition on your property (like cracked steps or a low spot that collects water or ice) that could injure someone. If the injured party files a claim with his or her insurance company, your rates will rise.
- Having a pit bull, Rottweiler, Doberman Pinscher or wolf mix. These breeds affect your insurance rates because dog bites cost insurers about $310 million annually.
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Install Storm Shutters
Replace Washer Hoses
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Choose a Tough Roof
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Install Trouble Detectors
Consider Reducing Auto Coverage
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Kid at College?
Change Jobs or Retire?
Track Your Tickets
Avoid Small Claims
If you get a small dent or other minor damage on an older car, think twice about filing a claim and getting it fixed. To avoid rate hikes, it might be worth your while to just live with it if there are no safety issues. And if you have towing coverage on your policy and use it to get your jalopy towed every six months, be ready for a 10 percent rate increase on your next renewal. Buy a roadside assistance plan (available from AAA, AARP and other vendors) instead. It's cheaper.
This also applies to homeowner's insurance. A good rule of thumb is don't file a claim if it's worth less than $1,000 over your deductible. Statistically, if you file two claims in a three-year period, or make claims related to maintenance issues such as a chronic leak or some missing shingles, you risk triggering a rate hike or worse. Your insurance company may even drop you completely. Just inquiring about a claim (without even filing it!) could raise your rates.
Beef Up Your Garage Door
Two Homeowner's Insurance Claims to Avoid
Install a CO Detector
Install Dead Bolt Locks
Buy a Backup Generator
A backup generator is a good idea if you live in a storm-prone area. In case of long-term power outages, a generator will keep your refrigerator, fans and dehumidifiers functioning to protect your food and prevent mold and rot in case flooding occurs. It can also save you 2 percent on your homeowner's insurance premium. A generator won't pay for itself in insurance savings, but it will offset the cost (which can run from $300 to $15,000 depending on the size and type).