It’s hard to describe the deep feelings of violation that are felt when your home is robbed. This is your chosen safe place, a sanctuary away from the chaotic world around you. It is where your family can rest and be at peace. It is where all of your belongings reside, including tokens from memories and people that may no longer be with us. And to see it destroyed, pilfered, and picked through is heartbreaking. One of the first calls that you should make, after that of the police, is with your homeowners insurance company. After all, they promised that if something like this would happen, they would put it right, as much as possible. And while that is accurate, there is a chance that your premiums could increase. To understand why, it is important to look at what determines homeowners premiums in the first place, and why certain elements result in higher premiums. But we should also look at things that you can do to safeguard against another break-in, protect important or expensive items, and potentially result in a lowered rate in the future.
How do insurance companies decide homeowners insurance rates?
There are a number of factors that go into the decision making concerning the costs of homeowners insurance. All of these factors are determining levels of risk. The higher the risk of a potential loss or claim, the higher the premiums or rates. These factors that they take into account can be broken up into a few categories:
- The People: Your claims history (with other insurance companies also), credit history, and even what breed of dog you have can affect your risk score.
- The Property: The condition of your home (like fixer-uppers vs. well-maintained), construction of your home (brick vs. stucco vs. frame), what other structures you have on the property (pools or sheds), and the age of your home are all considered.
- The Ecology: They mostly look at fire department ratings and whether you live in an area that is prone to tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, or floods.
- The Environment: This is the factor that will relate to the current issue of robberies. Insurance companies are very meticulous and detailed when they identify crime trends in different zip codes, whether the property is in a rural, suburban, commercial, or urban neighborhood, and what the claim history is for that area. Your initial rates may have been higher because of the neighborhood you moved into, and they will likely get higher with every incident of theft, robbery, or even general crime that occurs.
What can I do?
Knowing that, on top of your house being robbed and your possessions being taken, your rates may also go up, can be frustrating. But there are a number of steps that you can take. And good insurance companies will take into account these steps when looking at how much of a risk you are. If you prove that you are taking measures to decrease the likelihood of another incident, they can often respond with enough confidence to keep the changes to a minimum. So here are a few things you can do:
- Beef up security: Although most of these ideas will cost your pocketbook a little now, they will definitely pay off later.
- Cameras: Small cameras can be pretty inexpensive these days and even a simple doorbell camera has revolutionized the police’s ability to catch perpetrators of vandalism and theft.
- Security system: Often the sight of the sign in the front yard is enough to deter a would-be robber. The fear of being caught can be powerful.
- Exterior lights and motion sensor lights: No thief wants to be seen and motion sensor lights can be especially helpful because many thieves will assume you turned it on from inside and will leave.
- Dogs: This is a tried-and-true deterrent to theft, but be careful which breeds you buy because some home insurance policies consider certain breeds to increase risk, not decrease it. Be sure and check with your insurance agent before jumping in.
- Fences and Gates: Again, check with your insurance company first. Some fencing can increase the potential risk according to insurance companies, but all fences and gates provide more safety.
- Creating a neighborhood watch: This is a good idea no matter what. But helping to start or joining a neighborhood watch is typically low involvement, but high yield. Together we can all make our neighborhoods safer.
It is important to remember that insurance companies are on your side. They exist to help restore you to as close to normal as they can after a disaster, whether it be water damage from a pipe bursting, roof damage from hail, or loss of your possessions from theft or vandalism. The experts at Winstead Insurance understand this and will work hard to get you the most affordable rates possible, no matter what risk factors you have present. Call them at 410.398.6700 (text at 410.205.9355) for a comprehensive quote.