How to shop for home insurance

Thu Sep 07 2023

A young couple sit on their couch; the woman holds a tablet and the man holds a credit card

With the cost of home insurance on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly important for homeowners to shop around and compare premiums and coverage before buying a policy. 

These tips can help you shop around, find a policy that fits your budget, and get peace of mind. Let's get started.

1. Determine your homeowners insurance needs

Every homeowners insurance policy provides basic coverage that protects different parts of the home, such as your dwelling, personal belongings, and any additional structures. It can also cover costs if you face a lawsuit, have to temporarily relocate, or if a guest has an injury. While the coverages are standard, you get to decide how much you need of each.

Basically, you’re trying to identify where your greatest risks are. For instance, let’s say you have a lot of stereo equipment and high-end electronics in your home. That may mean you want to take a good hard look at how much personal property coverage you can afford.

Or maybe you have a trampoline or a swimming pool that increases the risk of someone getting hurt on your property. In that case, you might want more personal liability coverage. (Kin members with landlord insurance or House & Property insurance can add personal liability coverage to their policies.)

Both these examples focus on increasing coverage to avoid being underinsured, but remember the reverse is true, too. Once you know where your risks are, you can pick the appropriate amount of coverage without being over insured. Just in case, here's a handy checklist to help out.

2. Have your previous policy handy

If you're shopping for home insurance to replace an existing policy, don’t shop without that policy in hand. You won’t know if a new policy is better or worse than your old one unless you compare them. Certain details can have a big impact on a policy’s cost and coverage, so be sure to look at:

  • Limits. Check that both premiums are based on similar coverage limits; otherwise, you may think you’re getting an incredible deal only to find out you actually have less coverage.

  • Deductibles. Increasing your deductible, or the amount you owe in a claim, usually lowers your premium.

  • Personal belonging sublimits. Insurers place sublimits on certain valuables, so that they only have to pay a certain amount for them in a claim. These sublimits can vary between insurers, so you want to know if you’re comparing policies with similar caps.

  • Coverages. Every policy is different, and your current one might have coverage or endorsements for fungi and mold, screened enclosures, ordinance and law, or any number of other key protections.

Make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples rather than just assuming a cheaper policy is the better deal. A closer look might show that the cheaper policy has less coverage across the board, leaving you exposed to big out-of-pocket costs.

3. Get your information ready

To get a quote with Kin, you need your home’s address and a couple details about your property. You may also need:

  • A home inspection, depending on your home's age.

  • A security certificate to get a smart home security discount.

As long as you’re gathering this information, you might as well review it, too. Make note of any issues with your home mentioned in inspection reports that may indicate you need additional coverage. For instance, old plumbing may mean you need coverage for sewer backup. It protects you if your plumbing backs up and causes damage.

4. Know what your personal belongings are worth

Most homeowners insurance policies offer property coverage based on a percentage of your dwelling coverage – usually from 20 to 50 percent. So if your home’s replacement cost is $200,000, your belongings may be covered for $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the default percentage.

This default coverage may or may not be enough for you. The best way to know is to do a rough inventory of your stuff. This includes electronics, furnishings, and wardrobe. While you don’t need a line-by-line inventory, the more detailed you are, the closer you can get to properly covering your personal belongings.

Learn more about how much homeowners insurance you may need.

5. Investigate your flood risk

Standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, so you usually need to take the extra step to address this big risk. You can use FEMA’s map center to get a better idea of your flood risk.

Many insurance carriers rely on the National Flood Insurance Program to offer flood coverage, but the coverage it provides is limited. Kin, on the other hand, can offer a flood insurance endorsement to homeowners policies in Florida and Louisiana that’s not only comprehensive but costs as little as $175 a year.

6. Learn about hurricane deductibles

Home insurance policies in many states include a hurricane deductible. This is a separate deductible from your "all other perils (AOP)" deductible. It only applies when your home experiences wind damage during a named storm.

Hurricane deductibles typically run between two and five percent of the amount your home is insured for. So if your home is insured for $200,000 with a five percent hurricane deductible, you’d be responsible for $10,000 worth of any wind damage in a claim triggered by a named storm. But if your policy only requires a two percent deductible, your out-of-pocket costs go down to $4,000.

Before you jump at the policy with the lower hurricane deductible, remember selecting the higher percentage usually reduces your premium. Ultimately, you have to weigh how much you can afford if your home is damaged in a hurricane against paying a higher premium for your homeowners insurance.

You should also note that laws in some states prohibit homeowners from paying more than one hurricane deductible in a single hurricane season. With major named storms becoming more frequent in high-risk areas, this tidbit may come in handy if you’re on the coast.

7. Ask about discounts

If you want to find low-cost home insurance, then discounts can be your best friend. Insurance companies often reward homeowners for behaviors that make their homes more attractive to insure. You may qualify for discounts if your house has:

  • A hip-shaped roof.

  • Wind mitigation features, like impact-resistant covers on your glass openings.

  • Smart home safety and security devices.

  • Water leak detection and mitigation devices.

  • Live in a secured community.

Some also have discounts if you:

  • Are a new homebuyer.

  • Haven’t filed claims.

  • Opt for an electronic policy.

  • Install protective devices like climate sensors or home security systems.

We want to help you save as much money as possible and can find every discount you're eligible for. Apply online for a fast and free quote.


Related Posts:Get more answers