Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't Leave Money On The Table: Home Insurance

This is the first of what I hope will become a series of short articles about claiming all the benefits you are entitled to – be that discounts, freebies, or whatnot. I’m not going to go to the length of, say, extreme couponing, but I have found there are often discounts or bonuses you can easily take advantage of that can save you money without making major changes in your spending patterns or behaviors.

Since this is the first article in this series, I have to mention what is probably the most important advice on not leaving money on the table:

If your employer offers a 401(k) match, contribute enough to get all of it!! This is a no-brainer. It's free money!!

I've talked about this before. It's an automatic 100% return on your investment. Don't pass it up.

With that out of the way, let's talk about home owners insurance.

If you're like me, you have never read your entire home owners policy or even the policy's declaration pages. It's pages and pages of legalese and numbers specifying exactly what the policy covers and the limits and exclusions of the coverage. Boring stuff.

For some reason, the last time my property insurance was due, I found myself, if not actually, reading the policy declaration pages, then at least skimming them. My policy gives me discounts because my home is fairly new and therefore has a relatively new roof and heating and cooling units. I also get a discount because I have a monitored alarm system for both fire and theft. But then I came to one of the last pages in the document. This was a list of discounts I may be eligible for.

I glanced over the bolded text. New heating and cooling units, new roof - doesn't apply to me. Protective device, i.e. monitored alarm system - that applies and was a discount I was getting. I almost stopped there, since there were no other bolded items on the page.

But what about that last section? Properties located in qualifying... Hmm.. Properties in gated communities and retirement communities are eligible for a discount! Hey! I live in a gated community! Furthermore, it fits the definition provided. Bingo!! There's a discount I wasn't getting that I was eligible for!

That, dear reader, is what I mean by leaving money on the table. For the ten years I have been living in my house, I was eligible for this discount, but was not claiming it. All it took to claim it was a 5 minute phone call to my insurance agent and I was saving an additional $18 a year. I asked if I could get the discount applied ten years retroactively, but was told no. Well, it was worth a shot...

Do you have any tips for not leaving money on the table? Leave them in the comments!


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