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Homeowners Insurance Tips for the New Buyer

For many Americans, owning a home still remains a cornerstone of the American dream. Most anyone can appreciate the satisfaction of building equity while fixing up and refurbishing their house in a way that they can enjoy it while living there. But buying a house also means needing to purchase homeowners insurance to protect it, so it’s wise to consider all insurance options when searching for that perfect place.

But while standard policies typically offer $100,000 in liability protection, most insurance experts recommend at least $300,000 in coverage. Increased liability coverage can be especially important for homeowners with potential safety hazards, such as a swimming pool or trampoline. Premiums are determined by a number of factors, many of which are under the owner’s control. Making a few smart decisions will allow for the coverage needed and could save hundreds of dollars each year. Consider the following tips, which can go a long way toward giving peace of mind while protecting that new home.

First thing to do is get the facts

After finding a potential house, gather as much information possible in order to determine its potential insurance costs. The age of electrical, plumbing and other systems within the home, as well as construction materials used to build the house, can affect premiums. For example, many insurers will give insurance discounts or breaks for masonry homes or those with less flammable roofing material, especially in dry areas of the country that are most susceptible to fire damage.

On the other hand, masonry homes could be much more expensive to insure against earthquake damage. Homeowners and potential buyers can review current building codes and materials recommendations at http://www.ibhs.org, the website for the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Be aware of how geography can affect rates

Regardless of the materials used, where the house is located can have a significant effect on insurance premiums and coverage availability. Residents will likely pay more for homeowners insurance in areas prone to severe weather and natural disasters, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes or wildfires. According to the Insurance Information Institute, those states paying the most for homeowners insurance in recent years have been Florida, Texas, and Louisiana, all coastal states having above-average claims for water and wind damage. But Superstorm
Sandy has shown that homes along the Jersey Shore and coastal areas in New York have tremendous exposures.

Rates may also be affected by the neighborhood chosen. For example, homes in close proximity to a fire department are likely to cost less to insure. And while living in a secluded area can have its advantages, it probably won’t lower insurance rates if emergency vehicles find it difficult to reach homes in the area.