If you plan to buy a house, you’ll also need to purchase homeowners insurance. An insurance policy can help protect you, your family and, of course, your new home in case the unforeseen happens. Because coverage can add a significant amount to the overall cost of homeownership, however, it may pay to keep in mind that certain features of a home can affect the price and availability of insurance. To help you save and ensure that you’re properly protected, the Insurance Information Institute offers some factors to consider when house hunting:
- Quality and location of the fire department. Houses that are located near highly rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.
- Proximity to the coastline. Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. They’ll also likely require a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible. In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program.
- Age of the home. A stately, older home can be quite beautiful, but ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you’re considering buying an older home, find out how much it’ll cost to update these features and factor that into the cost of ownership.
- Condition of the roof. A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Make sure to check the roof’s condition. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not it’s made with fire- and/or hail-resistant materials, you may even qualify for an insurance discount.
- Quality of construction. Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes well built by careful craftsmen and those constructed to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.
- Risk of flooding. Damage from flooding isn’t covered by standard home insurance policies. If you’re buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you’ll need to purchase separate flood insurance, which is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few specialty insurers.
- Swimming pool or other special features. If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you’ll likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to provide added protection in the event that someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.
The Insurance Information Institute also emphasizes the importance of getting a home inspection before buying a house. For more information on home insurance, visit iii.org.