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Let’s face it; no one likes to think about insurance or the reasons why we may need it. No one wants to ponder bad things happen to their properties or worse, their family members. But insurance is important. It can give you peace of mind when things are good, and help you recover from the worst of circumstances when everything goes wrong.  And of all the things in your life that you insure, your home is easily one of the most important. Here are four great homeowner’s insurance tips to consider when purchasing your first policy.

Shop Around

If you use a mortgage lender to buy your new home, chances are they are going to require you to purchase homeowner’s insurance as well. Make sure that you determine the type of coverage you are going to require. For example, depending on where you live, you may need a flood insurance policy. Ask your bank or lender for advice, and get quotes from three to four different companies on their insurance rates. 

Also, keep in mind that whichever insurance company you decide upon, chances are you are only going to talk to them when something bad happens, and you have to file a claim; check online reviews and word of mouth to make sure that the company you choose has a very good customer service reputation.

Lower Your Premium

As a prudent homeowner, your goal should be to get the best homeowner’s insurance at the lowest price. A great but little-known way to do this is to make improvements that, besides making your home better and safer, can also help to reduce your premium. Safety and security improvements – deadbolts, strong window locks, and fire and burglar alarms that alert emergency services – can make your family more secure, while simultaneously helping you reduce your monthly homeowner’s premium anywhere from five to twenty percent. A new roof, especially one that provides additional reinforcements for bad storms in hurricane-prone areas, can help you save a bundle on insurance premiums as well. 

Finally, if you feel you have sufficient funds in the bank for emergencies, you could also consider boosting your deductible; doing so will often help to lower your monthly premium considerably.

File Claims Quickly and Document Everything

If there is a mishap that you think will require your home to be repaired, don’t hesitate; call your insurance agent right away and file a claim. All too often, homeowners wait too long to file insurance claims, move outside of their policy’s claim reporting window, and leave themselves vulnerable to not being covered. Making a prompt call when disaster strikes is the best way to avoid this hazard. 

Additionally, when filing a claim, ensure you document everything. Take pictures of the damage you are reporting, and any purchases you make as a result of the incident. You should also keep meticulous records each time you speak to your insurance agent. This goes for any service provider the company may contract with to address your claim.

If either the insurance company or the repair company comes up short in addressing damages on the claim you filed, your records will be the best weapon you have to seek recourse and get the services you are paying for.

Pool Your Policies and Watch Your Credit

When you are buying homeowner’s insurance, you should consider pooling your new policy with others you have from your current insurance company, like health insurance. Companies often offer great discounts when you purchase another policy from them. Or when you combine them with the coverage you have already purchased at a reduced price.

Additionally, as you consider a homeowner’s insurance policy, you should check what your credit rating is as well. Like many other things, your credit rating can affect how insurance companies assess your level of risk. This can cause your premium to rise considerably.

Working to raise your credit score can help to keep your premium in check, or even lower it a bit.

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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