First-Time Homebuyer Insurance Policy

Save Money With These Tips

Image shows a silhouette of a woman entering a home. There is a "sold" sign with a cat sitting atop, and a rainbow Pride flag flying near the door. Text reads: "Tips for saving on your first home insurance policy: don't wait to the last minute, use an insurance agent (not a mortgage lender), get a home inspection, have an established insurance history, get a discount through your renters insurance company"

Image by Miguel Co © The Balance

Deciding to buy a first home is exciting. Often, it comes as part of other major life decisions like getting married or having children. Many people find that spending money on property instead of on rent makes long-term sense.

Finding ways to save money when you buy your first home is a huge priority for first-time buyers. Whether you are buying a condo, a mobile home, or a house, you'll want to find low-cost insurance that protects your home and personal items.

Key Takeaways

  • Home insurance might cost a first-time buyer more, so it helps to speak to an agent first to see if you can find a policy that's a little cheaper.
  • Ensure you know what kind of coverage you need, and don't leave your research until the last minute.
  • It helps to have renter's insurance while you're renting before you buy. A history of not having any claims through your renter's insurance might get you a discount.

How Much Can You Expect to Pay?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) says that home insurance rates increased 3% in 2018 to $1,247 a year on average (from $1,211 per year in 2017). Keep in mind that these rates reflect the average home insurance rates, which normally include discounts like age reductions. Other discounts are offered for claim-free histories, bundling, and loyalty. If you're buying your first home, you might not get these discounts.

Homes built using special materials or in areas at risk of damages from natural disasters will increase your insurance costs. You might need to buy extra coverage for your home, depending on the conditions you might face as an owner.

Tips to Save Money on Your First Home Insurance

There are many ways that you save money on insurance when you buy your first home. Following these tips can subtract hundreds or even thousands of dollars from your home insurance bills.

Buy Renter's Insurance

Insurance companies offer discounts to people who can show a loss-free claim history. If you wait until you buy your first home to buy insurance, you could be paying up to 25% more for your coverage than someone who had renters insurance for a few years.

According to the NAIC, the average cost of renters insurance in 2017 was about $180 a year. This amount varies from state to state. However, even in the most expensive areas, you could get basic coverage for under $20 a month.

It is vital to research your options. The money you save on premiums could go into your mortgage, home improvements, or be used for other purposes.

Imagine you pay for renters insurance for three years and have no claims. Let's say that works out to $600. Then you apply for insurance on your first home. You receive a quote of $1,247, but the company gave you a 25% claim-free discount. You'll save $311.75 per year (with an annual amount of $935.25 a year). You'd only need to own the home for two years to make up the cost of your renter's insurance.

Use Your History

If you lived with someone before buying your coverage, contact the insurance company to see if they include the history of being covered in another policy. For instance, if you lived with your parents, the new insurance company might accept that as being insured.

Bundle Your Insurance

Many insurance companies offer discounts if you buy more than one type of policy with them. This is called bundling and can reduce your overall insurance costs. Before you bundle, you should look over the total cost of both policies under the same insurer.

You might notice your car insurance costs change if you bundle it with your home insurance. Many providers reduce your auto insurance premiums when you bundle it with your home. This isn't always the case; you should compare the plans as an entire package and not by each type to make sure you're paying less overall.

It also helps to shop around. You want to find a bundle that offers you complete coverage for the things you need.

Don't Focus on the Monthly Payments

Many people only look at the monthly payments they'll need to make and what coverage their lender wants them to have when choosing insurance. Then, they choose the plan that allows them to pay the least monthly amount. In general, this boils down to choosing a plan that has the right coverage but has a very high deductible.

Insurance companies target their products based on the risks in the area you live in; paying a little extra per month to make sure you're covered can save you money in the long run.

If you choose a high deductible plan with low monthly payments, a simple roof leak could cost you thousands of dollars before your insurance helps cover any costs. Make sure you research the type of coverage you'll need in your area, and focus on what you might have to pay if something happens.

Keep All of Your Policies Current

You might pay more if you've had a gap in your insurance history. Higher premiums might also come if you've had a policy canceled because you didn't make your payments; even your car insurance might count.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

There is a lot more to finding the right home insurance than just signing up for a policy. Many people focus on getting a mortgage, completing the home inspection, and negotiating the best price. As a result, insurance is left to the very last minute.

When you do this, you'll feel more pressure to find coverage. You'll end up choosing a policy that seems good without comparing it to as many others as possible. When you look for a policy beforehand, you don't put yourself in this position. You might save yourself thousands of dollars in repair costs later on.

When you move to your new home, your car insurance cost might also increase. Rates are based on use, commutes to work, and where you store the vehicle at night. In other words, they're based on where you live. Don't forget to budget for any changes in your auto insurance premiums related to a move.

Use a Local Insurance Agent Rather Than a Mortgage Lender

Your mortgage lender or bank might try to get you to buy extra products like life insurance when you sign up. This helps them ensure that they keep getting paid if you die because your beneficiary can keep making payments on the home. This isn't a bad thing, but you should shop around to see if there is better coverage and lower payments elsewhere.

Local insurance agents are more likely to help you get the coverage you need at the the right cost for you. They can also help you become aware of any local claims issues or higher costs other owners have faced.

Don't Skip the Home Inspection

The home inspection is your biggest clue to problems with your future home. Having a home in disrepair can cost you a great deal of money. Home inspectors can help you find any problems and alert you to repairs that you will have to make. Your home inspector may also give you tips on improving the home in ways that could give you a discount on your insurance costs. Your home insurance agent can help you with this as well.