The Retirement Corporation of America

Shopping for Homeowner's Insurance

SINCE THIS COVERAGE is regulated by states, there typically aren't big differences in the rates local companies charge for it. Still, premiums for the same coverage can vary by several hundred dollars. Get at least three quotes. Make it clear you're asking the insurers to bid for your business.

The amount of your deductible is the biggest factor that affects your premiums. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. While $250 is standard for a homeowner's policy, you can often save 20% or 30% by raising your deductible to $500 or $1,000.

The quality of your local fire protection also affects your premium. If you live in a town that only has a volunteer fire department, you'll pay more for the same coverage than someone whose community has a full-time fire department. You'll also pay less if you live near a fire station or there's a fire hydrant nearby.

Twelve Sure-Fire Ways to Save on Homeowner's Insurance

1. Shop for the best deal that offers the combination of coverage you need.
2. Raise your deductible.
3. Buy your home and your car insurance from the same company.
4. Improve your home's safety and security.
5. Stop smoking—some insurers offer a discount to non-smoking households.
6. Ask about senior discounts if you're over age 55.
7. Buy group coverage through an alumni, fraternal or business association.
8. Stay with the same company—several insurers shave 5% off your premium if you stay with them for five years, 10% if you stick with them longer.
9. Review your coverage annually and drop what you no longer need.
10. Buy high-risk insurance (flood, earthquake) from a private insurer if you can, not from the state's high-risk pool.
11. Buy a home that's less than 10 years old.
12. Exclude coverage for wind and hail if they aren't significant threats where you live.