Kathy Henne: Protect your home and your wallet

If you own or plan to purchase a home, then you know that insurance is not just a luxury, it’s a requirement of your loan. While you should not skimp on certain coverage items, there are some steps you can take to reduce your overall premium.

If you have a security system installed and operating, you might lower your premium by 5% or more. You’ll just need to provide your insurer with a copy of your contract or latest statement. Also, while newer homes have smoke alarms already installed, hooking them up in an older home might also reduce your premium by as much as 10%.

Just like health or auto insurance, if you increase your deductible on homeowners insurance, you’ll reduce your premium. Just be sure you’re prepared to pay out of your pocket for smaller repairs which are under the amount of your deductible.

If your policy is held by a company that also offers auto or health insurance, look into discounts for multiple policies. You could save a percentage on both your homeowners and auto policies, for example.

Another money (and time and stress) saver is to document everything in your home with a photographic inventory. You can use your phone to store the info “in the cloud.” Or you can store photos or CDs in a fireproof box or a safety deposit box off site. This will reduce the time and effort required to complete a claim, and guarantee an accurate record when you’re asking for replacement payments.