Monday, June 25, 2007

How Home Repairs Can Lower Insurance Bills

Home repairs can be a two-for-one special. First, maintenance work upgrades your home. And second, repairs and home improvements could also lower the cost of your home insurance bill, according to insurance experts.

''If you've made significant improvements to your home, you should, by all means, notify your insurance company,'' said Jeanne Salvatore, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. ``You want to make sure that you get every available discount that you are entitled to.''

Here's a rundown of potential savings:

Inquire about discounts: A new roof or roof repairs may translate into a discount. Upgraded plumbing or a new heating/air-conditioning system may also qualify for discounts, according to Matt McWilliams, co-founder of (, an online insurance portal. Some insurance companies offer 5 percent to 15 percent discounts if you have upgraded or modernized the wiring in your home within the last 10 years, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Safety and burglar alarms. You could qualify for a discount of 15 to 20 percent off your home insurance premium for good fire alert or security systems, Salvatore said. Insurers provide the greatest discounts to systems that alert authorities or other emergency systems. Security lights, smoke detectors and deadbolt locks can yield discount points of 5 percent or higher.

Look for obscure savings. If your home is near a fire hydrant or in a municipality with professional firefighters (versus volunteers), your insurer may provide discounts. Additionally, ask about reduced-risk security discounts if you are retired or work from a home office. Your constant presence in the home means that a fire will be quickly detected and the home will be less of a target for criminals. Some companies provide a 10 percent discount to retirees.
For a free online brochure of money-saving tips, visit and click on the home section.

That's from my latest column in the Home & Design section of the Miami Herald.


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