Homeowners insurance is essential for protecting you against loss if a disaster damages the home. But that protection comes at a price -- your homeowners insurance premiums. In this article, we'll look at what premiums are, the factors that affect them, and other things you may want to know before purchasing a homeowners policy.
Homeowners insurance premiums are the regular payments that the policyholder makes to their home insurance company. They can be made either monthly or annually. In exchange, the insurer pays the homeowner the money they need to repair their home following a covered claim.
Premiums aren't to be confused with the deductible, which is the amount the homeowner must pay following a claim before the insurer will pay out the rest. A home insurance company will typically give policyholders a choice of several deductibles, but they determine the premiums based on the factors below.
Here's a closer look at 10 key factors insurers consider when calculating a homeowners insurance premium.
A 4,000-square-foot home with hardwood floors and granite countertops will cost more to insure than a 1,500-square-foot home without these upgrades. That's because it costs more to rebuild larger, more expensive homes.
Older homes typically have older electrical and plumbing systems, which could make them more prone to fires or flooding. In addition, a home with a dilapidated roof could be at a greater risk of property damage from storms, so these homeowners typically pay more than homeowners with a new home.
Certain features, like smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and storm shutters in some areas, can help reduce homeowners insurance costs. Others, like wood-burning stoves and pools, can increase costs because they increase the risk of fire or injuries.
Locations that are prone to natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes typically have higher average homeowners insurance premiums than houses in areas with few natural disasters.
Proximity to the local fire department also affects home insurance premiums, with houses nearer to fire departments costing less to insure than homes further away. That's because there's a smaller risk of loss for houses the fire department can reach more quickly.
Statistics show that married couples tend to file fewer insurance claims than single adults, so insurance carriers usually offer more affordable rates to married people. That may not seem fair to everyone, but there is some data to back this up.
Insurers look at credit history as a measure of risk. Individuals with a high credit score are considered to be more responsible and less likely to file an insurance claim compared to individuals with lower credit scores. Again, this may not seem fair to everyone, but it is based on statistical data.
Homeowners who have filed home insurance claims can expect to see their home insurance premiums rise for at least a few years. Usually, it takes about three years for these claims to fall off a policyholder's record and stop affecting their rates.
The type and amount of home insurance you might need has a significant impact on homeowners insurance premiums. Policies with higher limits and optional coverage, like extended replacement cost or extra coverage for electronics, will cost more than a bare-bones homeowners policy.
Insurance carriers usually give policyholders a choice between several insurance deductibles. Higher deductibles mean higher out-of-pocket costs for the homeowner in the event of a claim, but they also reduce premium costs.
Every homeowners insurance company looks at an applicant's home and personal factors a little differently. Some companies put more weight on credit and marital status while others may charge a higher home insurance rate in areas prone to disasters. That's why it's important to get multiple home insurance quotes to see which offers you the best coverage at the most affordable price.
There isn't an easy way for you to calculate your own homeowners insurance premium because you don't know how an insurance company is going to evaluate your application. The best way for you to figure out how much your homeowners insurance premiums will be is to compare quotes from a few different companies.
If you've ever wondered "How much is a home insurance premium?" check out our research on average homeowners insurance premiums in the U.S.
The average cost is $2,305 per year, according to Insurance.com, but you could pay much more or less than this, depending on the factors outlined above.
There isn't a definitive answer on this. Lenders typically require homeowners who have a mortgage to pay their first annual homeowners insurance premium at closing. These aren't necessarily a part of closing costs, but you pay them at the same time.
In some cases, it may be possible for the home buyer to convince the home seller to pay the home insurance premium for the first period as a condition of the sale. But that's something buyers will have to try to negotiate for themselves.
Homeowners who have an escrow account through their lender may not have to worry about paying homeowners insurance premiums directly. Some of their monthly payments to the lender automatically go into this escrow account to cover the home insurance. Then, when the next annual payment is due, the lender automatically pays it out of the escrow account.
Borrowers with less than 20% equity in their home usually have to do it this way. Those with more equity may have a choice. If they choose not to have their home insurance paid through the escrow account, they can pay it themselves, either monthly or annually, by making a payment online or writing a check to the insurance carrier.
Not paying a home insurance premium on time could have serious consequences. The homeowners policy could lapse, meaning the home won't be covered in the event of a disaster. This could trigger the mortgage lender to foreclose on the home because its investment is at risk if the home is uninsured.
Homeowners could also see their credit scores suffer from the missed payment, and they may have difficulty securing new home insurance because they let their existing coverage lapse.
There's typically a 30-day grace period for homeowners who miss their payment due date. Paying within this time frame won't result in a policy lapse. If you don't think you'll be able to make your payment on time, contact your insurance agent right away to discuss next steps.
Can you negotiate home insurance rates? Not exactly. An insurer isn't just going to let a homeowner pay less than what they owe. But by reaching out, you may be able to figure out a way to make your premiums more affordable, such as by raising your deductible.
This is largely personal preference. Paying monthly involves more frequent, but smaller payments while paying yearly involves a single, large payment. Some companies may give discounts to homeowners who pay in full, so this is something to weigh as well.
You may not have to pay your home insurer directly if you have an escrow account set up with your lender. If not, homeowners can call the company, pay online, or write a check and mail it to the insurer.
Filing claims can make home insurance go up. So can making upgrades to your home because it can make it more expensive to rebuild. Aging home systems can also make homes more expensive to insure because they increase the risk of claims.
Your age isn't one of the primary factors that influences your home insurance cost, but it could play a part, depending on your home insurance company. For example, an older homeowner may be able to score a lower home insurance rate if they choose an insurer that offers a senior discount.
New roofs typically lower home insurance costs because they reduce the risk of property damage in storms. Some insurers even give homeowners discounts on their insurance if the roof is only a few years old.
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