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How to Shop for Homeowners Insurance in the Highland Lakes

Shopping for homeowners insurance is easier than you think, and it can save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars if you follow these tips in the Highland Lakes.

About three-fourth of the residents in Burnet and Llano counties own their own homes, which is significantly higher than the 62 percent for all of Texas. Owning a home means shopping for homeowners insurance. With that in mind, here a few tips from the Highland Lakes Insurance Guide for how to save money and get the best homeowners insurance available.

• Buy renters insurance

Whether or not you own a home now, you could be a homeowner in the future. A loss-free claims history with your renters insurance policy can save you up to 25 percent on homeowners insurance.

Typical renters insurance costs less than $200 per year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Even if you pay for years of renters coverage, the payoff still comes when you consider 25 percent off a homeowners policy that can range from $1,000 to $2,000 a year.

• Check customer satisfaction ratings

According to a survey by Consumer Reports, the greater the damage to a home — usually more than $20,000 — the greater likelihood of a disagreement over the value of the damage between homeowner and insurance company.

This is why customer satisfaction ratings are so important when comparison shopping. Insurance companies with higher ratings tend to have fewer conflicts with customers.

• Compare policies and coverages

When comparing quotes, make sure you also compare similar policies and coverages. A typical Texas homeowners insurance policy includes coverages for the dwelling, personal property, other structures, loss of use, personal liability, and medical payments. Policies do differ in a few key areas.

One type of policy in Texas, a comprehensive or open perils policy, covers all-risk policy. A narrower type of policy, which is cheaper, offers specified perils coverage.

Policies also distinguish between the amount of property included in coverage in two different ways. A replacement cost policy covers the money it would take to rebuild or repair your home based on current costs. An actual cash value policy is for the amount to rebuild or replace your property minus depreciation. Insurance companies tend to prefer actual cash value settlements. ACV language is standard in a policy.

You should ask to compare the cost of replacement cost coverage.

Local insurance companies and agents can help you decide the amount of coverage you need and what policy best suits you. Similarly, they can answer questions about the possible need for other types of insurance, including flood insurance, wind and hail insurance, extra endorsements, and personal umbrella liability insurance.

• Keep your house in order

Insurance companies can cancel coverage based on inspections that can be done when a policy is up for renewal.

You can get homeowners insurance if you have been canceled by completing repairs addressed in the inspection.

If repairs have been made but the insurer still refuses to insure you, you can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.

Not all cancellations are due to an inspection or the state of your property. It could be due to nonpayment of your premium, too many claims filed, or fraud. Other reasons a policy might not be renewed are poor credit scores, owning aggressive or exotic pets, or even an insurance company that stops providing coverage in your state or region.

If coverage is canceled because of something outside your control, it’s usually easier to shop for a new company and find a new policy.

Some insurance companies specialize in insuring high-risk homeowners. You will pay higher premiums with less coverage but will avoid defaulting on your mortgage if insurance is a condition of the loan.

Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plans are available in Texas for people who otherwise can’t get coverage.

Whether you are a first-time buyer, shopping for a new policy, or in need of extra coverage, the insurance companies and agents in the Highland Lakes offer experience with all types of homeowners policies. Scroll the local companies in the Highland Lakes Insurance Guide to begin your search.

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