Four ways to reduce the premium on your homeowner's insurance bill

Pay less for insurance

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. - If you own a home in Florida, no doubt you are paying more than ever for homeowner's insurance.  A relatively small investment can save you big money on your policy.

Just last year, state regulators approved double-digit rate increases for some insurers.  But Florida law dictates the insurance companies give you a price break if your home and roof meet certain conditions.

Pinellas-based home inspector Tom Tafelski says a single wind mitigation inspection can save homeowners hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. "Insurers must grant homeowners a discount for certain construction features that will help withstand and reduce insurance losses," said Tafelski.

Owner June Meyer's home is 30 years old, and her roof was last replaced in 2004.  Still, she invested $150 in a wind mitigation inspection, which triggered a $400 discount on her homeowner's policy.

Citizens Property Insurance is trying to unload thousands of homeowner policies onto private insurers.  But who are these companies?  And will they be around after a big storm hits?  The I-Team is taking action to protect you and your property from the insurance industry -- Friday night at 11:00 p.m.

While homes built as long as 20 years ago may qualify for a discount, insurers reserve the greatest rewards for those constructed since 2002.

Tafelski, a certified home inspector, says the inspection covers seven construction aspects, any of which may qualify the owner for a discount.

Perhaps the biggest benefit for homeowners, one inspection is good for five years, so in June's case the $437 discount will add up to well over $2,000 in total savings.

Your insurance agent should be able to steer you to a qualified inspector.  You want to ask if they are certified, and check their references. 

A roof inspection is just one of four ways we found to lower the amount of homeowner's insurance you pay.

Find out if you are over-insured.  If similar homes in your neighborhood have sold for significantly less than the insured value of your home, you may want to ask your agent about reducing the amount of insurance you have. They may require that you pay for an appraisal before doing so. 

Next, look at your deductible.  If it is $1000 or less, ask your agent about a higher deductible that would lower your rates.

As with everything, it pays to shop around.  AAA, for instance, writes homeowners' policies thru half a dozen different insurers.  It is possible, with a single phone call they can match you with a company that offers comparable coverage, but at a lower rate than you are paying now.

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