Protect your home with homeowners insurance

New year, new you - right? Millions of Americans make resolutions to better themselves by working out more or eating better. While swapping an unhealthy snack for celery can make you feel better, getting homeowners insurance can help you get peace of mind knowing your belongings and home are protected should the unthinkable happen. If you're new to homeowners insurance, here are a few tips for shopping for a policy in 2014:

Determine your needs
Many policy premiums are based on how much coverage you need. This will depend on the value of your home and belongings. Some might think they don't need homeowners insurance because they don't think their stuff is valuable. However, it's probably worth more than you realize. Think about everything you have - your furniture, clothes and electronics, and it will start to add up. Not to mention, a home is usually the most valuable asset. If a fire were to occur, would you be able to pay for replacing your belongings or repairing your home on your own? More than likely, you will need homeowners insurance to avoid financial disaster in an event like a fire. Find out the value of your stuff to see how much coverage you will need.

Figure out risk factors Insurance companies will look at several risk factors in your home that can determine the price of your homeowners insurance premium. For some homes, this might include old wiring that is more likely to cause a fire. In addition, your credit score and financial history can also play a role in the price of your monthly payments. Mostly, the risk factors will have to do with the home, its location, age and the materials it was built from.

Shop around
Once you know how much coverage you need, start shopping for a policy right away. If you shop around for the best gas prices, why wouldn't you do the same with homeowners insurance? Compare prices and benefits between companies in order to find the best deal and the right coverage for your needs.

Demand discounts
There are many different kinds of discounts offered by insurance companies that you may be eligible for. Millions of homeowners miss out on saving money because they don't ask about discounts for their policies. For example, did you know you might be able to reduce your premium if you're married? Newer homes, security systems and home maintenance are also common discounts that homeowners can take advantage of. If you find a company that doesn't offer you any discounts, don't be afraid to ask. If there still is no room for negotiation, consider shopping around more.

Know what's not covered
It's very important to understand what is covered under your policy. For instance, flood coverage is usually not a part of general homeowners insurance policies, but can be added for an extra cost. If you live in an area that is prone to flooding, consider getting flood insurance in addition.

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