Q&A with John Wiscaver
Storm shelters save lives, but can they affect insurance rates?
Q: Will getting a storm shelter lower your homeowners insurance costs?
A: Storm shelters are intended for personal safety, not necessarily home or property protection. So while storm shelters can be a valuable addition to be considered to increase personal safety, especially considering we live in an area of the country that frequently experiences severe weather, installing one will not lower your homeowners insurance costs. Typically, insurers look at building materials that are more resistant to damage or protect the actual property from damage and therefore lower a home insurance claim if a disaster does strike. Hail- and wind-resistant products are an example of these building materials.
Q: So will home improvements, such as a new roof, reduce rates? Do only certain roofing materials qualify for a reduced rate?
A: The roof is very important to a home, as it typically takes the brunt of severe weather, especially hail and wind damage. If a roof is damaged, additional damage can occur from water, debris, etc., allowing interior damage to occur to the home and potentially damage personal property in the home. This additional damage can significantly increase the overall loss, as the result of the damage to the roof. When hail and wind impact-resistant roofing materials are used, most insurers offer rate discounts to homeowners for their investment. There are several different grades of roofing. They range from Class One through Class Four, and are rated by Underwriters Laboratories standards. These materials will provide additional protection against hail and other impacts, and will better defend against wind and fire, as well. It’s always good to check with your insurance agent on these and any other discounts that may be available.
Q: What else can I do to bring down my costs for homeowners insurance?
A: There are several things you can do to decrease your homeowners insurance premium. In addition to using stronger roofing materials, the use of dead-bolt locks, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, security systems, sprinkler systems and heating, electrical and plumbing updates can help. Also, some insurers provide discounts for having companion policies (both homeowners and auto policies) with them, for senior citizens and based on your credit score.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER