Features that Increase Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

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One of the most disconcerting consequences  of owning a home is having to purchase a homeowner’s insurance policy.  While it’s comforting to know that you are protected in the event of catastrophic damage, it can be disheartening to watch your insurance be deducted from your bank account month after month.  It can be even more frustrating to learn that certain home features can increase your premium.  Want to know which ones lead on the list?  Here’s what you need to know.

Swimming Pools: Why does something so fun need to increase your premiums? Insurance companies cite the risks of drowning and water related injuries as the reason they charge more for homes with pools.  In most jurisdictions, a homeowner is liable for injury or death in their pool, even for people that trespass onto the property.  Many companies require the pool to be fenced in but do not offer discounts for this being done, as it may be a condition for it to be even be insurable.

 Trampolines: Over 100,000 ER visits per year are attributed to trampoline accidents.  For this reason, many insurance companies refuse to insure them or charge additional to include them in their policies.  They may also place restrictions on where they are placed and require that the trampoline’s springs be covered with padding.

Pellet & Wood Stoves: Homes that have pellet and wood stoves are statistically more likely to incur fire damage than those heated through more conventional methods.  Your company will need to be notified prior to the stove being installed and may require inspection afterwards or proof that it was installed by a licensed professional in order to insure it.

Age of Home: The older the home, the more likely that it will fall into disrepair.  Insurance companies take this into account and adjust premiums accordingly.

Size of Home: The larger your home is, the more it costs to replace if it were a total loss.  Expect higher premiums with more square footage.

Garage Size The larger a garage is, the more it holds and the more you’ll be asking your insurance company to replace in the event that the garage is destroyed.  Additionally, larger garages are more likely to be targeted for theft than smaller garages.

Bling: While many home insurance policies provide some provisions for jewelry, it may not be enough to replace them at full value.  Understand what your policy covers and add additional coverage if need be.  Bear in mind that gold & diamonds continuously increase in value so it’s a good idea to update your insurance company with documents from your jeweler that state the actual value of the items, and not what the purchase price was a few years ago.

Pets: Dog breeds associated with aggression (such as Great Danes, Pit Bulls, and Rottweilers) typically carry higher insurance premiums.  The reasoning being that the insurance company doesn’t want to be on the hook for a lawsuit in the event that Fido bites a houseguest.

Outdated Roof: Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see asphalt & metal roofing systems with 50 year warranties.  This is due to recent advances in roofing technology.  However, if your current asphalt roof is from the early 1990s, it’s very likely that your insurance company will flag it as a high risk (i.e. high priced) insurance group because it’s unlikely to hold up to high winds and hail.

The Final Word: Trampolines, swimming pools and large garages are not the root of all evil.  Having such items will likely increase your insurance premiums but if you see them as a value, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have them.  Be sure to review your insurance policy annually to make sure you clearly understand what it covers and don’t be afraid to shop around occasionally to ensure you’re being charged appropriately.

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