Owning a home means more than just paying a mortgage; it also means keeping up with peripheral costs, like property taxes and homeowners insurance. The cost of your homeowners insurance policy will vary based on a number of factors -- the size of your home, its age, and its location. The average homeowners insurance policy costs $1,192 a year, as per the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, but if you're being quoted a much higher number, installing a few key safety features could lower your premiums and make your policy much more affordable for the long haul. Here are a few such features to look into.
1. An alarm system
Alarm systems are a major crime deterrent. In fact, 90% of convicted burglars say they'd avoid homes with security systems. Not only can an alarm system buy you peace of mind, but it's an investment your insurer is apt to award you for making. And while you may need to spend a few hundred dollars to install a new alarm system, monitoring could cost you as little as $15 a month.
Another option? Install a doorbell camera. Popular options include the Ring, owned by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), or the Nest, owned by Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL). If your motivation to buy one of these is to save on homeowners insurance, call your insurance company first and ask what discount you can expect. Since these are newer products, your insurer may or may not recognize them as a safety feature, especially in light of hacking issues with the Ring in particular.
2. A standby generator
If you live in an area that's prone to bad storms, you may be used to extended power outages. Those outages aren't just inconvenient, though -- they can also put your home at risk. Pipes that stay cold for too long during the winter risk freezing; those that get too hot during the summer risk melting or warping. With a standby generator, your home will automatically start running on natural gas power once your electricity goes out. And while generators are expensive (you could be looking at a few thousand dollars or more like $10,000, depending on the size of your home), they could lower your insurance costs while eliminating the hassle factor associated with power outages for a long time.
3. Storm shutters
If you live in an area where tornadoes or hurricanes tend to strike, then it pays to look at storm shutters. These shutters are designed to minimize wind damage, thereby safeguarding your home from harsh conditions. Their cost will hinge on how many windows and openings your home has, but expect to spend a few thousand dollars to buy yourself that protection. Thankfully though, your investment should be offset by savings on insurance.
4. Water leak sensors
Leaks can be a major source of home damage, so a good way to prevent them -- and save yourself some money on insurance at the same time -- is to install water leak sensors in conjunction with an automatic shutoff system. The sensors themselves are placed in areas that are prone to leaks -- around pipes, behind washing machines, and under sinks and toilets. When one of your sensors detects a leak, it sends a message to your shutoff device to cut the flow of water to your home. Best of all, these systems are fairly inexpensive to install -- you can buy a kit with sensors for under $500.
5. A new roof
A solid roof can protect your home from the harshest of weather, so replacing an older one could save you serious money on your homeowners insurance costs. The price of replacing a roof depends largely on its size and the materials at hand, with most homeowners spending roughly between $4,700 and $10,500 on this project. But doing so is a smart move not just from an insurance standpoint but from a resale perspective, as a new roof could drive your home's value upward.
Though the idea of saving money on homeowners insurance may be nice, ultimately, your decision to add the above features should boil down to wanting to create a safer environment to live in. While these additions will generally lower your insurance premiums, in many cases, it could take years to recoup your initial investment. As such, you're better off approaching these improvements from a safety and home value standpoint, and enjoying some savings on insurance as an added perk.
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