Homeowner's insurance is homeowner's insurance... right?

It's not. Picking a homeowner's policy is about as straightforward as choosing a home -- there are lots of options, lots of hidden costs, lots of variety. Don't assume that the same company you've been using for your car insurance will be the best for your homeowner's insurance. While it's true that bundling policies saves money, you could save more money by moving your policies to a new insurer. Don't be afraid to look around!

Here are 4 ways to maximize your homeowner's insurance:

Shop around
Most people pick an insurance company -- then stay there for the long haul. While loyalty is appreciated, it could be costing you. Experts advice comparing prices every 2-3 years. As we've discussed, major life milestones alone can cause your insurance premiums to change. Make sure you're getting the best deal -- and insurance -- for your current situation.

Consider "extras"
A bare-bones policy will save you money on your premium, but could cost you exponentially more in the event of an accident. If you live in a flood plane or earthquake zone, make sure you have that additional coverage. Expensive jewelry or art? Make sure it's covered. One thing you may not think about: if you live in an older home, spring for an ordinance (also called a "law enforcement"); this will help pay for the cost of bringing plumbing, wiring or other things up to code.

Be smart with your smartphone
Put that iPhone to use! Snap pictures or video of your technology (including serial numbers), furnishings, artwork or other household items of value. The more detail, the better. This inventory can be used in the event of a fire or other catastrophe. Put all the photos on a flash drive and store in a bank deposit box or fire-proof safe.

Use your insurance!
Most of us worry that filing a claim will increase our premium. So we don't do it. However, according to a study by Consumer Reports, of 7,418 homeowners who had filed claims in the previous 3.5 years, 57% suffered no subsequent price hike even if their claim was less than $5,000.

The takeaway? Let your insurance policy work for you! Don't pay out of pocket for things your insurance should cover.

Source: Consumer Reports, Get More Value From Your Homeowner's Insurance
Photo credit: Flickr, Cameron Parkins

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