Homeowners insurance includes many myths and preconceived notions that can make the home buying process confusing and intimidating for first-timers. However, demystifying homeowners insurance may be easier than you think. Take these five common home insurance myths into consideration before buying your first home to help ensure a smooth process.
Myth #1: The surrounding neighborhood doesn’t affect the price of home insurance.
Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a home’s insurance premium is influenced by its surrounding area. Each neighborhood has a record of multiple factors that insurance companies take note of, including prior insurance claims and crime rates in the area.
Based on statistics provided by the FBI, the state, and other departments, each community is given a grade by insurance companies. The frequency of crimes, like burglaries and vandalism, within a community is compared against the city’s population. Neighborhoods with lower grades are considered higher risk, and homes within these areas will often have higher premiums.
Myth #2: External home fixtures don’t affect the price of insurance.
The physical structure of a home isn’t the only factor involved in home insurance. When it comes to calculating premiums, insurance companies consider every potential risk on the property. Homes with trampolines and swimming pools carry a higher risk of claims due to injury or property damage and are subject to higher premiums.
Dog owners may also be surprised to learn that they could face higher premiums. Although many domesticated dogs are friendly, insurance companies pay close attention to the risk of bites and other injuries.
Myth #3: Older, cheaper homes will have lower insurance premiums.
Though an older home may have a lower sale price, it may have a much higher insurance rate. Older homes are considered high risk to insurance companies for many reasons. Homes built in the ’80s and before may have outdated plumbing, and water damage and leaks are among the most common home insurance claims.
Another concern with older homes is the wiring system. Older homes may have aluminum wiring installed, which is susceptible to fire. Outdated wiring systems also may not be up to current state code, which can further drive up the price of a premium.
Myth #4: Homes within the same neighborhood will have the same premium.
Though the neighborhood a home is located does influence its premium, many factors could cause one house to pay a vastly different amount than even the one next door. For example, brick houses are at lower risk of fire damage than homes with wooden frames. However, homes with fiber-cement siding are fire resistant and have an added benefit of being termite proof.
It’s important to note that homes within earthquake-prone zones are evaluated differently. Brick houses are more prone to damage from earthquakes and will pay higher premiums than homes made of other materials within these areas.
Myth #5: Once a premium is calculated, the price is fixed and can’t be changed.
A homeowner has plenty of options to reduce the cost of their home insurance premium. Updating the roof to hail-resistant shingles, for example, will impress an insurance company. Additionally, installing security features such as a fence or alarm system will decrease both the risk of claims and the cost of your premium. Installing a sprinkler system to reduce the risk of fire damage is another way to make an insurance company happy, and they’ll reward you — by lowering your premium.
Now that you are armed with insider knowledge about the way homeowners insurance works, you can begin the hunt for your first home with confidence. If you have questions about homeowners insurance or are interested in quotes, an independent insurance agent can help you. Visit trustedchoice.com to get matched up with an independent insurance agent today, so they can help you get started on your journey.
Paul Martin, CPCU, is an insurance professional for Trusted Choice with over 30 years’ experience. Throughout his career, Paul’s mission has been to further his knowledge and education in the field, so he can help homeowners better understand their insurance options.