Home insurance isn’t just a requirement from your mortgage lender – it’s an essential tool to help protect you from carrying the entire financial burden from catastrophic loss or damage like a house fire or sewer backup event. But we understand that home insurance can be expensive and there is always the temptation or need to cut costs. Here are our 7 tips to reduce your home insurance premiums in Calgary in order to retain comprehensive coverage.
#1: Deter thieves.
In 2016 Calgary police seized an “insurmountable” amount of stolen property in one of the largest busts in the city’s history. More than $1.5 million worth of goods was discovered. In a separate case, two men were charged with over 70 residential break and enters after they stole more than $100,000 worth of goods from homes in Southern Alberta.
Theft is a problem but there are ways to help protect yourself from becoming a victim which will save you money in insurance premiums. Even better? Many insurance companies offer discounts to customers who install security devices as it reduces the chance of vandalism and theft.
Theft deterrents include:
- alarm systems (ensure your system is approved by your insurance company before installation to make sure you get the discount)
- heavy duty locks on external doors
- bolt-locks on windows (or other similar systems for windows accessible from ground level)
- join a neighbourhood watch program
- security lights
- security cameras
- install timers on lights and radio or televisions to give your home an “occupied” look
If you’re away for any prolonged period of time make sure you cancel mail deliveries and ask a trusted person to check up on your home at least once every 48 hours (if not you could void your home insurance policy or result in a denied claim).
Talk to your broker about what discounts your insurer offers for security devices – but even if there are none rest assured your home will be better protected.
#2: Fire Prevention
Calgary firefighters work hard at educating the public on fire prevention. One campaign saw them knocking on doors in the Acadia neighbourhood to spread that message. Protect your home and your family with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers! Make sure you check the devices and change the batteries at least once or twice a year. Proper disposal of cigarettes is also essential – many fires have been caused by butts being tossed into planters or near flammable materials.
#3: Water Damage Mitigation Measures
Water damage is one of the most common causes of claims in Calgary. While insurance coverage is now available, it’s not offered by all insurers and it’s not available in every neighbourhood.
You can also implement water damage mitigation measures including:
- Prevent burst pipes with proper insulation and keeping your home an appropriate temperature
- Install sewer backup valves
- Set up sump pumps and have battery or generator backups available
- Improve your drainage by regrading and proper landscaping
- Install a water alarm
- Regularly clean eavestroughs and ensure they drain well away from your home
These measures not only protect your home but some qualify you for a discount on your home insurance.
#4: Increase your stake
Home insurance policies come with deductibles —the portion you pay when you make a claim before the insurance company steps in and covers the rest. But you can also choose to pay more or less deductible. By choosing a higher deductible you’re taking on more cost of a potential claim but you’ll also lower your annual premiums.
Remember that not all damage to your home requires a claim – if you can cover the expense of repair out of pocket it may be better to do so. Insurance works best for catastrophic or significant losses. The other benefit to not submitting a claim is that you look better to insurance companies and may see lower rates or perks such as a “disappearing deductible” (where your deductible is reduced every year you don’t make a claim) or a claims-free discount.
#5: Be a responsible consumer
Most insurers will use your credit score to help calculate your insurance premiums. The better your credit score the lower your home insurance premium. Paying your bills on time and being financially responsible can help reduce your costs.
If you’re having issues with payments talk to your broker. They may be able to help.
#6: Be a smart consumer
Did you know that most insurance companies will charge you a fee to pay your insurance on a monthly basis? The fee can be as high as 3% on your overall insurance bill. To eliminate this fee consider paying your premiums annually.
Check in with your broker at least once a year to discuss your coverage and premiums. Insurance constantly changes and so do your needs. They can work with you to ensure you have the best coverage for the best price.
#7: Bundle Your Policies
Most insurers offer discounts when you have multiple policies with them. This is generally known as bundling. Consider keeping your home auto and other insurance products with a single company. This may not always be the best solution, so talk to your broker about it.