10 things that affect your insurance costs.

Your home is likely your most valuable investment, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune insuring it. Whether you’re in the market for a new home or have been a homeowner for years, here are ways you can downsize your insurance costs.

  1. Condition
    Insurers factor in general wear and tear on your home when setting a premium. They will inspect such things as the sturdiness of the roof, termite damage, and the integrity of the home’s wiring system. Because new homes tend to be in better condition than older homes, some insurers will offer up to a 15 percent discount if your home is new.

  2. Construction
    Certain types of homes are less expensive to insure because they are more resistant to damage. For example, a brick home is preferable if you live in the East because of its resistance to wind damage and a frame home is better in the West because it is more resistant to earthquake damage, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

  3. Safety
    Many insurers also offer discounts of approximately 5 percent for safety features such as burglar alarm systems, deadbolts, window locks, smoke detectors, and sprinkler systems. You may also receive a discount if your home is in close proximity to a fire department (approximately 5 miles).

  4. Smokers
    Because smoking in the home greatly increases the risk of fire, some insurers will offer a discount of about 2-5 percent if none of the residents of a home smoke.

  5. High Risk Areas
    Flood and earthquake damage is not covered by standard homeowner insurance policies. Special supplemental catastrophic policies that cover these conditions are available, but can be quite costly. If you are currently covered against these catastrophes through a government plan, however, research coverage through a private insurer. It may actually be lower.

  6. Coverage
    Homeowner’s insurance typically covers damage or loss to your home and its contents, but some packages also provide other benefits such as personal liability coverage if someone is injured on your property or theft insurance. Read the fine print. Prices and coverage can vary significantly between packages that appear similar. Make sure you get what you need and use what you get.

  7. Deductible
    The deductible is the amount that you the policyholder must pay before your insurance company starts paying benefits. The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums. By raising the deductible, you can save up to 50 percent of the cost of your homeowner’s insurance.

  8. Loyalty
    Insurers will often reduce their rates if you buy more than one type of coverage such as auto and homeowner’s from them or if you stay with them over a period of time. “Some insurers will reduce their premiums by 5 percent if the person stays with them for three to five years and by 10 percent if the person remains a policyholder for six years or more,” says Irma Schultz of the Insurance Information Institute.

  9. Retiree?
    If you are over the age of 55 and retired, check with your insurer to see if you qualify for a discount. “Most insurance companies offer these discounts because retired people are home more and can spot fires sooner than working people and have more time for maintaining their homes, ” says Schultz. Some companies will offer discounts of up to 10 percent to seniors who qualify.

  10. Group Discounts
    As with other types of insurance coverage, you can often obtain better rates if you get coverage through a group plan. Check with your employer, alumni association, or other affiliations to find out if they offer group coverage.