Home Owner Insurance Faq: How To Reduce Your Rates Through Home Improvement Projects

This article gives several home improvement projects that can give significant homeowner insurance discounts.

Insuring your home is an essential expense for every homeowner. Receiving a quote from your insurance company can be a burden that may seem beyond your control. However, there are several improvements that can be made to the home that can yield significant discounts--reductions that can, in some cases, pay for themselves. Be sure to check with your insurance company for discount rates on home upgrades before investing your hard earned money.

Some improvements are simple enough for anyone to accomplish. Installing deadbolt locks to all exterior doors, adding storm shutters to the windows and placing smoke detectors on all floors of the dwelling are all improvements that should be done immediately upon purchasing the home.

Another simple improvement is acquiring fire extinguishers and placing them in appropriate areas. Knowing the rating system for extinguishers is essential. An 'A' rating is used for ordinary combustibles, such as wood and paper. A 'B' rating is used for grease, gasoline and oil. Placing 'B' rated extinguishers in the kitchen or garage is suggested. Finally, a 'C' rated extinguisher would be used on an electrical fire where a non-conductive formula would be necessary. Fire extinguishers are also available in multi-class forms which can be used for different types of fires.

A more expensive but far more effective way to protect your home from fire is to install a residential sprinkler system. Installation is usually too difficult for the average homeowner, therefore a reliable company that specializes in sprinkler systems would be the best idea. Sprinklers are superior in that they protect lives as well as property, furniture and other valuables. They are not dependent on human reactions to extreme situations and a good system can reduce the risk to firefighters. Some insurance companies award as much as a 15 percent discount for a reliable sprinkler system.

For mobile or modular homes a "˜tie-down' discount is available from some insurance companies, usually a 10 percent reduction. To qualify for this deduction a homeowner needs to anchor or bolt the home to the ground. A better method of tying down a mobile home is to pour a foundation or flat cement slab with metal inserts that the home can be anchored to. This can be an expensive project for a mobile home but if the home is located in a hurricane or tornado prone area then the safety benefits are well worth the expense.

Burglar alarms offer the largest discounts that insurance companies offer, sometimes 20 to 25 percent. There are two types of systems used to protect homes from unwanted invasion; perimeter alarms and interior protection. A combination of both systems provides complete protection.

Perimeter alarms consist of a "˜closed-loop system' that relies on sensors installed on the exterior doors and windows and are connected to a siren or bell with the intent of scaring away intruders. Interior protections could be a combination of pressure mats, photoelectric beams, motion detectors, sound detectors, infrared scanners and closed circuit TV. Companies charge a monthly fee to monitor security systems and contact the appropriate authorities should the need occur.

Some things to watch for when shopping for burglar systems are: battery back-up in case of power failure, external components that are as inaccessible to intruders as possible, a monitoring company with a proven track record of reliability and service. When researching burglar systems keep in mind that some companies offer fire alarms, medical monitoring and panic button options in addition to burglar protection, that can further increase your insurance discount.

Finally, the most often overlooked home improvement that can yield insurance discounts are upgrades or modernization of utilities; heating, plumbing and electrical. Contact licensed professionals to see if your home could benefit from these upgrades; even without an insurance discount it is in your own best interest to modernize these basic utilities.

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