You can’t control flood levels, lightning fires or the neighbourhood kids’ wayward baseballs. You don’t get to decide whether or not your dog will bite the mail carrier, or if a tree crashes through your roof. But there are plenty of home features that will affect your premiums—and that you can control.
A finished basement
Sure, it’s a great rental unit, or the kids love having their own space, or maybe you’ve spruced up the floor so an elderly relative can move in. But a finished basement—or any major renovation—will boost your premiums, simply because you now have more home to insure. If your house burns down, it’ll be more expensive to rebuild the snazzy in-law suite than to replace a concrete-floored laundry and storage area.
A backyard wonderland
If you’ve got a swimming pool, hot tub, trampoline or tree house in your backyard, expect to pay more for home insurance. These structures increase your—and your guests’—risk for injury, whether it’s falling from a tree branch or drowning in a pool. Safety measures, such as a fence around the pool, can sometimes help rein in the costs.
Whether you’re into coins, stamps, rare books or diamond rings, valuables will increase premiums since they’re expensive to replace. Plus, they make you a more likely target for thieves. Make sure your policy covers your collection, and if it doesn’t, ask about buying an endorsement.
Nothing says autumn—or Christmas, or the first snowfall—like sipping cider by a crackling fire. But if you’ve got a real wood-burning stove or fireplace, you’ll likely pay higher premiums. Sparks can fly, furniture can burn, and pets and kids can get hurt. Some insurers may require you to have your wood strove professionally cleaned at least once a year.
Running a home business
It doesn’t matter if you run a home daycare, set up your carpentry shop in the basement, or greet your massage patients in the spare room. Having a business in your house means more people are on the property, which increases your risk for liability claims. Plus, more business equipment will be on site, and that can be expensive to replace.
Many older homes have galvanized steel pipes. Over time, they begin to rust or corrode, which restricts water flow, reduces water pressure, and makes the pipes more likely to leak. Insurers will often raise premiums until you switch to copper or plastic piping. Similarly, old knob-and-tube wiring presents a safety risk—and higher premiums. This kind of wiring, commonly found in homes built more than 50 years ago, doesn’t have a ground wire, which is a standard safety device in modern wiring that can neutralize the current. Knob-and-tube wiring is also more likely to cause an electrical fire.
- How Operating a Home Business Affects Your Insurance
- 7 Unexpected Losses Your Home Insurer Could Cover
- How Installing a Pool Affects Your Home Insurance