Hidden costs, ways to save on homeowners insurance

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Pull out your homeowner's insurance policy and start making those appointments to review your options with your insurance agents.

Because the housing market has been so up and down over the past couple of years, homeowners are starting to ask questions about their insurance policies and what changes, if any, can be expected in this type of economic environment.

For example, some homeowners think since property values have dropped, insurance costs should follow suit. Not so, according to Angie Hicks, founder of the service company review site Angie's List.

"The insurance is based on replacement cost," she said. "The cost to rebuild your house may actually be going up."

Tommy Cook, President of John T. Cook & Associates in Myrtle Beach explains why this is such a large factor for homeowners along the coast.

"During major catastrophes, like a hurricane, there's supply and demand. Materials are less likely to be available locally, so the price of materials goes up, price of labor goes up, so the price of replacement goes up to replace the house," explains Cook.

Hicks and her affiliated insurance sources said several things make or break your homeowners insurance costs:

  • Age of home
  • Construction of home
  • Size of home
  • Renovations
  • Valuables

But Cook says these things are not the only factors to consider when it comes to insurance coverage. Find out how much your home is worth.

"Absolutely, I would let them know anything that I am doing that increases the value of the home, because they need to increase their insurance as well," advises Cook.

The changes you make may not necessarily have anything to do with your home's structure, but the possessions you have inside.

"Normal content like your TV is covered under your contents in your homeowner policy. There are certain limitations on things such as jewelry, guns, and fine arts. So if you have those particular items, once again notify your agent and they'll let you know rather or not you need to add them on what we call a floater for additional coverage," states Cook.

Even pets can help determine the amount of insurance coverage you need. It's best to give your agent a heads-up if you own a Pit Bull, Rottweiler, German Shepherd or Chow.

"There is usually a question on the application where the agent will ask if you have a dog and if so what the breed is. If it's considered a vicious breed, carriers may not write the coverage, may limit the coverage, or they might write it. It just depends on the carrier and what their attitude is," admits Cook.

Cook says being pro-active when it comes to protecting your home has the potential to save you money. Home project in the plans? Learn how to do them at half the price.

"That is a possibility and the credits will vary from company to company, you need to just talk to your agent and discuss it. Let them get you a quote and it will let you see how much you will save if its warranted," he explains.

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