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    It’s no secret that Americans have been spending more time at home in the last year. And while it can certainly be stifling, there’s another, more expensive consequence of all those hours in the house: Higher insurance rates.

    It’s true. Home insurance rates are on the rise, and in some states, the jumps have been exponential.

    Take Florida, for example. According to a recent analysis, home insurance rates have increased over 34% in just the last four years alone. Rates in Nebraska and Colorado aren’t far behind.

    Fortunately, homeowners don’t have to take these hikes lying down. If you’re one of the many Americans who’s paying more for your insurance than you used to, there are steps you can take to lower your premiums and ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

    How to take control of your home insurance rates

    1. Shop around.

    You never want to choose the first insurance company you find. To get the best deal, get quotes from at least three to five different agencies, and compare the discounts, coverages, and premiums across each one. You’d be surprised at how much the costs can vary from one insurer to the next. 

    2. Check out home insurance rates annually.

    Get new quotes for home insurance (and car and other policies, too) at least once a year. Even if you’re not changing insurers, your rate may still need adjusting. Your home’s value could have dropped, crime rates could have risen in the area, or prices of lumber might have decreased — all of these are things that could affect your premiums. 

    Also, many insurers offer discounts for “new” customers — or those switching over from another provider. So even if you’re not finding a better rate out there, you might be able to get a nice premium reduction just by choosing another company.

    3. Improve your credit score.

    Most insurers factor in policyholders’ credit scores when setting their home insurance rates. A higher credit score typically indicates a financially responsible policyholder who will pay their bills and is of low risk to the insurer. A low score? That points to the opposite, and insurance companies may charge more if you fall into this category.

    4. Bundle it with other insurance policies you have.

    If you have a car, renter, or any other type of insurance policy, consider using the same insurer for your homeowner’s insurance, too. In many cases, you’ll get a steep “bundling” discount, which could reduce your premiums considerably. 

    Just make sure to compare that premium to what bundled policies would look like at other insurance companies as well. You always want to shop around — especially on multiple policies.

    5. Make your home safer — from burglars and from natural disasters.

    Insurance agencies will reward almost anything that reduces your risk of loss. That could mean better protecting your home from burglars and theft (installing an alarm system, for example) or safeguarding it from weather, accidents, or natural disasters (adding a fire alarm, putting in storm shutters, installing leak sensors, etc.) 

    If you take any of these steps, make sure you alert your current insurer to see how it influences your rate. You’ll then want to compare that with quotes from new insurers to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

    6. Request all the discounts for home insurance rates.

    Every insurance company offers discounts — sometimes quite a few of them. You might be able to get a discount for claims-free periods, buying a new construction home or one in a gated community, being a college student, retiree, or public servant, or even being a non-smoker. 

    Always inquire about a company’s full range of discounts. You can always stack these, so the more you qualify for, the lower that premium will go.

    7. Increase your deductible.

    Finally, a sure-fire way to reduce your insurance premiums — on any type of policy — is to increase your deductibles. So, instead of a $500 deductible, you’d choose a $1,000 one. This increases the threshold at which your insurance kicks in and allows them to offer you a lower rate.

    Keep in mind, though: Increasing your deductible will mean paying more out of pocket if you have to file a claim. Only do this if you have an emergency fund with plenty of cash to cover that deductible if it comes to it.

    The bottom line about home insurance rates

    You don’t have to take insurance hikes lying down. If your premiums recently went up — or you just want to make doubly sure you’re getting the best deal — start shopping around and comparing quotes today.

    Don’t forget to ask about discounts, and consider bundling your policies or increasing your deductible to reduce those costs even more.

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