HOW TO SHOP FOR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
If more of us knew how to shop for homeowners insurance quotes we would be more aware of how it all worked. I've heard time and time again "I'm not sure who my insurance is with. I don't even know how much I'm paying." The reason for this response is because they're afraid to look around, afraid to shop. Other than saying "can you quote my home insurance?" they don't know what else to say, at least not in a confident manner.
Sometimes, most times, we stick with a ridiculous rate, or worse, with a less than reputable company, because we don't realize how easy it is to shop and move.
Sure, I'm experienced with homeowners policies and I know exactly what is needed in order to get a quote AND to get it issued. By the end of this article, you'll know exactly what to do as well.
Arkansas Insurance companies care a great deal about the outer appearance of our homes. Take a few corner shots with with your phone. Maybe a front/side pic and a back/side pic, both will include a portion of the sides of the home. Note: appliances on the porch are frowned upon, as are trampolines without a net and/or a fenced yard. Same goes for a swimming pool.
Speaking of swimming pool, it does not increase you rate. Either you're complying with safety standards (i.e. locked fence or no neighbors within the vicinity) or you aren't. Same applies to a trampoline. Insurance companies would rather you have a pool.
The year built and square footage of our home helps in determining replacement cost. Replacement cost is an amount set by the insurance company. It doesn't matter how much we paid for the home or how much we can sell it for. What matters is how much it will cost the insurance company to rebuild it in the event of a total loss. The key; know the year built and approximate square footage.
The condition of our roof, and the year it was replaced are important as well. Insurance companies are becoming more hesitant to insure a home with a roof that is older than 10 years. We're grandfathered with our current company - it's changing companies that will cause the headache when it comes to an older roof. The key; know the year our roof was replaced.
Depending on the age of the home, the electrical and plumbing may come into question. There are very few companies interested in knob and tube wiring with fuses. Circuit breakers are almost a must. Most homes have these. Bad electrical can cause fires. If the house was built prior to 1970, they'll want to know if the electrical has been updated.
Arkansas Insurance companies also like to know the age of the hot water heater. Hot water heaters bust causing floor and baseboard damage. The newer the heater, the less likely it is to cause damage.
Informing the insurance agent of any previous claims could save us time. Yes, the agent can run a claim history report. However, we may have a claim they aren't interested in. Or, if we've had a fire, the fire marshal's report will be needed - sometimes even to get a quote. Knowing your claim history helps, but it's not a necessity.
It's good to know our mortgage company and loan number, but not needed for the quote. There is no reason why an agent would need that information before issuing a policy. Have it handy. The agent will bill them if we decide to move forward.
Any other information will be personal, such as our social security number, date of birth, address, and spousal info. Don't hesitate to hand this over. The more info we give, the more accurate our quote. No one wants a rate that changes when the policy is issued.
Let's recap. What we need when shopping for homeowners insurance quotes:
Have pictures on our phone, ready to share
Know the year built and square footage of the house
Know when the roof was last replaced
Know when/if the electrical was updated
Know if we have fuses or circuit breakers (a pic of the breaker box would be great)
Knowledge of previous claims would be helpful, but not necessary
Now that you know what's needed, get some quotes. Have the breakdown emailed to you. Compare, and be confident.