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Tips to save on homeowners insurance

Homeowner insurance rates may be rising, but there are steps you can take to keep your costs down, according to an insurance trade group spokesman.

"Ask your insurance agent or company about discounts," said Jerry Davies, spokesman for the Personal Insurance Federation of California, in Sacramento. Davies said insurers offer many discounts including rewards to longtime customers who buy several policies from the same company. "You can get a discount for packaging your homeowners and automobile coverages with the same insurer," said Davies.

Davies also urges his fellow homeowners to take steps to keep their dwellings well maintained. As a for-instance, Davies recommended that "you inspect and replace water hoses to household appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

"Replace an old water hose before it leaks and ruins your linoleum or tile. By doing that," continued Davies, "you won't have to file a claim and run the risk of your insurance policy cost rising as a result at renewal time."

Davies mentioned the value of increasing homeowner insurance deductibles. "Raising your policy deductibles may save you 15% or more. That'll make your insurance policy what it is intended to be, a catastrophe coverage policy rather than a home maintenance policy."

Sacramento County homeowner Bill Packer said he would consider increasing his policy deductible. "I'm interested in saving money on my homeowners insurance policy, and that might be one way for me to do it, so I'll probably look into doing that."

Shopping around for the best price makes dollars and sense if you ask Omar Morales of the Insurance Information Network of California. "If one company seems to expensive, or doesn't want you as a customer, then move on to the next company Shop around as much as possible," Morales advises.

Another idea from Morales: "Security alarms and fire sprinklers can earn a discount." You could receive homeowners insurance discounts for the installation of burglar alarms, dead-bolt locks and smoke detectors.

For a tipsheet on homeowner insurance cost savings, go on-line to Insurance Information Institute's web page.

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