Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2016
The 3 Factors That Have the Biggest Impact on Your Home Insurance
Although your homeowners insurance may seem like an unnecessary expense at times, it is an invaluable safeguard.
Property and casualty risk research firm ISO -- Verisk Analytics states 5.3 percent of all insured homes made a claim in 2014. In addition, the Insurance Information Institute III and SNL Financial reported that the incurred losses for homeowners insurance in the United States totaled 39.84 billion in 2014. This data indicates that even though only a small percentage of homeowners submit home insurance claims, the overall costs associated with these claims can be substantial.
Clearly, home insurance can make a world of difference for homeowners, but that does not mean you should be forced to break the bank to find the proper coverage.
If you understand the factors that impact your home insurance, you should have no trouble picking up the right coverage at the right price. Ultimately, youll be able to insure your home against a wide range of risks for a reasonable cost.
Heres a closer look at three factors that have the biggest impact on your home insurance.
1. Your Homes Value
Consider the price of your house as well as the total cost it would take to rebuild your residence as you study home insurance options.
Remember, if your home is damaged or destroyed, youll want to be insured for the full cost to replace your residence. In many cases, this cost will exceed the price you paid for your home, so you should purchase a policy that guarantees youre fully covered against any damage or destruction.
To determine the replacement cost of your home, get an estimate from a reputable builder who can evaluate your current residence and give you an accurate idea of how much it would cost to replace your house. After a builders evaluation of your home, youll be able to insure your residence accordingly.
2. Your Homes Location
Location is everything. From the town or city where you live to the number of fire stations near your house, many factors associated with your homes location can affect your home insurance.
Some of the key factors linked to your homes location that can impact your home insurance include:
- Fire Protection -- Insurers frequently use Public Protection >
- Wind Storms -- III points out that many insurers in coastal states along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico provide homeowners insurance with percentage deductibles for hurricane damage instead of traditional dollar deductibles. This means that some homeowners may end up paying higher deductibles due to wind storm dangers.
- Crime -- Risk is lower for homeowners in low-crime areas. Thus, these homeowners often pay less for home insurance than those who live in high-crime areas.
Performing research about your homes location is paramount. If you spend some time learning about risks >
3. Your Homes Condition
The age and condition of your home may affect your homeowners insurance, but it is also important to recognize that the design of your residence may impact your home insurance.
For example, a home that features a custom design with many exterior corners may be more expensive to replace than a residence with a simpler design. Therefore, the price to insure the former may be more expensive than the cost to insure the latter.
Insurance companies also consider whats called "morale hazard" when deciding to offer you coverage or not, which is an increase in the risk of hazards caused by a persons apathy due to having insurance. Because of this, maintaining the condition of your home can make you more attractive to insurers. If you fail to perform regular home maintenance, your insurer may have the right to void your coverage in the event of damage or destruction to your residence.
The aforementioned factors will likely have the biggest impact on your home insurance. Furthermore, many insurers now review your credit score to perform a predictive analysis of your risk levels.
Your credit score is affected by a number of factors, including:
- Payment history
- Credit report inquiries
- New and existing credit accounts
A higher credit score means a lower risk. However, if you pay your bills on time, avoid excessive credit card debt and understand your credit history, you may be able to lower your home insurance costs.
Youre entitled to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion once a year. Request a copy of your credit report from these bureaus annually and youll be able to identify any credit report issues that could affect your home insurance.
Lastly, dont forget to work with an insurance agent as you explore your home insurance options. These professionals will help you identify risks and guarantee you can protect your home against loss both now and in the future.
Ryan Hanley is the Vice President of Marketing at TrustedChoice.com and the Managing Editor of Agency Nation. He is also a speaker, podcaster and author of the Amazon best-seller, "Content Warfare." Ryan has over 12 years of insurance expertise and blogs frequently to help consumers understand complicated insurance topics.
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New Windows Changed My House - and My Mind
It was exciting to contemplate city life after living in smaller towns. Apparently, everyone else thought so too, because by the time I decided I liked a house, it was gone from the market.
Between struggling with a tight real estate market and shopping from across the country, it wasnt easy to find a house. While the city offers the charm of older neighborhoods and homes of by-gone eras, it also means that you can be pretty sure that youll be remodeling something.
Thats how my window struggle came into light.
Id snagged a home full of potential. Nestled in a full acre of green grass and big trees, the brick home offered the room I needed and the one-story I desired - plus it had the original hardwoods. Tangled up in an estate, it had sat empty for four years.
So here I stood trying to gaze out the spider web-coated windows of a 1950s-era ranch and see the beautiful maples and oaks. It was like an oasis tucked in the city. As I did, I began to list the key items on my to-do list, like a modern kitchen, repaired air ducts, pipe repairs and a new coating on the driveway.
As I began to focus on key items, like a modern kitchen, leaking air ducts, plumbing issues and an eroding driveway, so windows ba>
Funny now to think I thought that meant I was done with windows.
Two things came into play nearly simultaneously. Only a day or two after the moving van unloaded, I decided I couldnt take the dirty windows another day. So despite having mountains of boxes to maneuver around, cleaning years of grime got moved to the top of the list. Armed with rags, cleaning supplies and a step-ladder, I marched to dark, dirty glass in the dining room. Thats when I discovered the window would not budge. It had opened on the last walk-thru, but would not open today.
Humidity had played a part in the old wood swelling. Undaunted, I cleaned the inside and headed outside to clean it from that direction. Covering the window were storm windows that probably hadnt been removed in years, if not decades. They were supposed to slide up, but it wasnt happening. As I moved around the house, I noticed a great portion of the windows had issues, including cracks, I could not resolve.
Ultimately, it didnt take long to learn that I couldnt live with the old windows that didnt function. In fact, changing out the windows got bumped up to the top of the list.
My desire for the windows had to do with function. I wanted to see out them and open them. I hadnt really thought about the look. I guess I thought a white window replaced by a white window would be the same. Instead, it was a huge shock to learn what enormous difference new windows made in the appearance and feel of the home.
In one day, the house went from one that looked like it had black widow spiders in the lock box to one that looked loved and inviting. The old windows contained grilles, the pieces of wood which visually divides a pane of glass so it appears to be made of smaller panes. The new windows I chose did not have grilles. That move made every window seem bigger and every room seem brighter. Of course, the new windows, without years of wear and the layer of dirty storm windows, really were brighter.
While I was waiting on windows and other key repairs, like electrical panel upgrades, I was trying to plan that kitchen remodel as well as a bathroom re-do. In trying to save costs where I could, I was working around existing windows. Despite taking down a wall to get more space, no matter how I moved around cabinets and appliances in my kitchen drawing, I could not get good workflow. In the current design, a small table for two sat in front of the only window, a long one that went nearly to the floor.
One day, someone asked me why I was working around that long window. They suggested I put in a shorter window and place the sink under the window. It was a light bulb moment.
With a brick house, Id not even thought about changing a windows dimensions. It turns out it wasnt hard at all. Since the windows exterior is on my screen porch, I choose wood to fill in the space of the shortened window and painted it to match the window, rather than have a brick mason brick in the space.
The same width was kept, but the shortened window allowed for a changed countertop and sink placement and suddenly made the whole kitchen plan work. I also shortened a window in the remodeled bathroom, which meant the soaking tub could be placed under the window and Id still get plenty of natural light.
The new windows really changed the whole look and feel of the old house. When I get a chance to talk remodeling, I now tell people replacing old windows needs to be at the top of their list.
Lea Schneider is a professional organizer based in Nashville, Tennessee. She shares her experiences on remodeling her 1950s ranch fixer-upper, which included replacing her casement windows. If you are also looking to update your house, visit The Home Depot to see a large selection of casement windows.
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Shop With An Eye For Your Future Home Accessibility Needs
It can be heartbreaking to have to leave your home because of mobility issues at any age or stage of your life. So when youre building, choosing a new home or renovating, keep basic accessibility features in mind. These features will help make it easier for you, your family and guests everyday.
For example, a zero-step entrance makes it easier to get strollers, large or heavy items and things such as groceries and packages into the house. A design with fewer stairs will reduce the risk of falls in the home for young children as well as seniors.
If youre building, try to include an elevator, or rough one in. If youre renovating, try to retrofit your space to include an elevator. Plan to include wide doorways and hallways, which will not only make the space seem bigger and brighter, but will make navigating the home easier for anyone using a walker or wheelchair.
A main-floor bathroom is a must. Include a large walk-in shower instead of a tub. Another popular idea is to include a master suite on the main floor, to be used by in-laws now and you later should stairs become an issue. A broken leg and a long run of stairs isnt a good combination.
Include an attached garage with a door to connect it to the house so you dont have to go outside in inclement weather. Its a handy feature for all ages.
Being able to enjoy your home for the long term is easier if you keep universal design in mind when youre building, buying or renovating. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. CMHC offers design principles for universal design on its website.
It includes some features that can be added during renovations, such as lever-type door handles, which are easy to include when hardware is being updated. Lever handles are easy to open with one hand or an elbow, which makes it easy for small children or anyone carrying objects. These features can be added over time, CMHC says.
Being able to visit friends and neighbours is a simple pleasure, but not one that can be enjoyed by everyone. Nor is being able to maneuver in their own home.
"People who inhabit and visit the houses we live in come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from infants to seniors, with various ever-changing abilities and skills," says CMHC. "As we grow up, grow old and welcome new people into our homes, our housing needs change. A house that is designed and constructed to reflect the principles of universal design will be safer and more accommodating to the diverse range of ages and abilities."
CMHC says universal design is only a subtle shift from what is typically done; designing for greater accessibility is not a new way of designing, simply a more focused one. "By providing flexibility in the selection of design features and incorporating adaptability into the house design, the life and usability of a home is extended, which promotes the concept of aging in place."
The universal house includes many elements that contribute to universal accessibility and are of benefit to everyone, CMHC says. For example, level, smooth, slip-resistant and glare-free floor finishes provide enhanced safety and comfort, and 36-inch wide doors make it easier to carry grocery bags and children into the house.
Other ideas from CMHC include windows that have easy-to-operate opening and locking systems; shades or blinds to help control interior light; and adding extra lighting throughout that can be adjusted to everyones needs.
When renovating the kitchen, choose cabinets that have drawers and pull out shelves to eliminate the need to reach to the back of the cupboards. Handrails on both sides make stairways easier for everyone to negotiate. Bathrooms should include curbless showers that are large enough to accommodate a seat or stool.
"Planning for individuals changing needs and abilities allows for periodic home customization based on changing requirements and reduces the need for future costly renovations," CMHC says. Planning for future needs is good practice. Principles of universal design encourage flexibility, adaptability, safety and efficiency and makes life easier every day.
In addition to universal housing, there is Visitable housing that makes it easier for people using mobility devices to visit a home; adaptable houses that can change to accommodate a variety of family types; and accessible housing that meets the needs of a person with a disability.
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