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Home Warranties - Get home warranty information.
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Homeowners' Insurance Tips

Many home owners are not clear on exactly what their insurance covers or what their level of coverage is. They assume that if there is a loss, they will be covered almost without exception. It is a smart idea to take a closer look at your Homeowners' Insurance policy and review the following major items.

Homeowners' Insurance checklist

What is covered: Have you made any additions or improvements to your house that will need to be added to the policy? If you have, you need to inform your agent in writing and send photographs to show the existence and condition of the improvements.

What is the coverage level: Has the value of your house risen in the last year? If you do not have a rider that automatically raises your coverage on an annual basis, you will need to adjust your level of coverage to match the increase in property value.

Guaranteed replacement cost: Does your policy stipulate that you will be paid a " guaranteed replacement cost" or is there a limit to your coverage. Review this with your agent.

Liability Insurance: What are the limits of your coverage in a situation where someone may be injured in your home?

Content Insurance: Have you added any expensive items (computers and home entertainment equipment are prime examples) that need to be added to your policy?

How to maximize your coverage and minimize your premium cost

The following are a number of methods that you can use to potentially lower your annual premium for your Homeowners' Insurance. Consult your agent to see which apply and how much you can save. In addition, most will add to the safety and security of your home.

Dead bolts: Install dead bolts on all exterior doors.
Security alarm: Install a security alarm
Smoke detectors: Have smoke detectors on all living levels.
Fire extinguishers: Have operational fire extinguishers available in the house.
Consider a higher deductible: $1,000 deductibles are allowed by most underwriters.  If you are comfortable with the possibility of having to pay a bit more out of pocket in case of a loss, raising the deductible (the amount you will pay when there is a claim) will lower your annual premium.
Multiple policy discounts: Have your homeowners' policy and auto policy with same insurer: Many insurers will give you a discount if you maintain both policies with them.  You can get FREE quotes here for all of your insurance needs.

For a Free Homeowners Insurance Quote, visit Insweb

Home Security

Some basic security measures that
every house should be equipped with:

Dead bolt locks on all exterior doors (including those leading to basements and garages). Cost: $20-$50 per lock, self installed.
Photoelectric or motion detector security lights on the exterior of the house. Photoelectric lights turn on at dusk and off at dawn. Motion detector lights turn on whenever motion is sensed in the light's range. Usually one in the front and one in the rear is sufficient. Depending on coverage, though, you may want to light the side yards. Cost: $20-$75 per light, self installed.
Window locks several varieties to choose from depending on the type of window to be protected. They make entry through a window much more difficult. Cost: $5-$10 per lock, self installed.

More extensive security: Alarms

Alarm systems can provide 3 benefits:
1) Protect you and your home from intruders
2) Provide you with additional protection in fire and medical emergencies
3) May lower your insurance premiums

When considering a security system for your house, you will want to get at least three different estimates, since costs can vary a good deal. Make certain that any comparisons are for the same type of coverage: all doors and windows and with or without motion detection. Some systems offer additional services you may want to consider such as panic buttons or integrated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Compare the total cost, which includes the installation and set-up cost as well as any other costs and the monthly maintenance fees if you select a monitored system. It is a good idea to ask for at least 2 references of other homeowners from each company giving you an estimate. Call the references and see how the installation quality was as well as the service that has been offered.

Safety

Inexpensive but effective safety measures

Smoke Detectors can save the life of you and your family. They should be installed on every floor of your home and their operation checked frequently. A sensible maintenance plan for battery operated smoke detectors is to replace the battery every 6 months. Cost: $10-40.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors are similar in appearance to Smoke Detectors but instead of detecting smoke in the air, detect the presence of carbon monoxide, which is a deadly (and odorless) gas. Especially important in any house that is heated with a fossil fuel--gas, oil or coal--that can give off carbon monoxide due to improper fuel burning. Cost: $35-$85.

Fire Extinguishers can prevent a minor fire from becoming a catastrophe. At a minimum, placement should be in the kitchen, garage, and near any fireplace or woodstove. Have each member of the family become familiar with the location and operation of any fire extinguishers in the home. These can be purchased in both rechargeable and disposable versions. Cost: Variable.