Homeowners and hurricane insurance

It's summer, which means hurricane season is in full force once again. For homeowners across the country, that means it's time to take a look at your homeowners insurance policy and see what type of coverage you have or if you need additional protection from hurricanes. If you're a homeowner who lives near a coastline, you should consider hurricane insurance and check to see which discounts you may be eligible for. Here are some of the top discounts that homeowners most frequently overlook:

Wind-resistant upgrades
During a hurricane, much of the damage to a home is caused by wind. Homeowners who take steps to protect their home from potential wind damage can receive a discount on their policy. However, not all homeowners are aware of this discount and could be paying more than they need to, even with a sturdier home. Some common wind-resistant features include roofs with tie-downs to the walls and walls with tie-downs to a home's foundation. In addition, homes can be built with materials that are more likely to stand up to winds of 130 miles per hour.

To qualify for this discount, it may be necessary to receive an official certification from the installer to prove eligibility to your insurance company. The savings on your homeowners insurance premium are likely around 5 percent, but the savings over time can add up quickly. It is important to check with your insurance company before you get tie-downs installed, in case you need this additional information.

Shutter systems and impact resistance
Beyond the roof and walls of your home, you can earn more discounts by ensuring that your doors and windows are impact-resistant. These upgrades can be expensive, but they could result in less damage during a storm and higher savings on your policy. Impact-resistant doors and windows do not include plywood panels, but they do include shutter systems or new materials that are installed in the home. Because this comes with a higher cost to upgrade, you will want to check with your insurance company before you take on this project to see what your savings could be.

You might be one of many homeowners who are worried about their homes throughout hurricane season, but speaking with your insurance agent to discuss your hurricane coverage is the best thing you can do to ensure you have adequate protection when a storm rolls in.

Increasing your deductible
If you can't make any changes to your home, but you still want to lower your monthly insurance payments, you could consider raising your deductible. This is the amount that you need to pay out of pocket before your insurance will provide you with any coverage. If you increase your deductible to $1,000 instead of $500, you could see your payments drop immediately. However, you will need to have this amount saved in case you need to use it.

If you decide to change your homeowners insurance deductible, it might be worth knowing that doing the same for your separate flood insurance deductible may not have the same advantages. Flood insurance does not typically have a deductible in a dollar amount. Rather, it is tallied as a percentage of the overall damage, such as 2 percent or 5 percent. Raising your deductible in your flood insurance policy could be more financially risky than doing so with hurricane protection.

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