Washington Home Insurance
Why is it important to have the best Washington home insurance? Finding a Washington homeowners insurance policy to protect what, for most of us, is our biggest asset, is a big deal. Here in the state of Washington, almost 60% of the population lives in the Seattle area. However, the rest of us tend to live in the beautiful rural areas that are made up of lush rain forest and mountainous areas specific to our Pacific Northwestern corner of the nation. Home insurance needs vary from the suburban home dweller to the rural woodlander. For all of us, understanding the options is an important place to start. Here are the factors that determine your rates, the rankings of some insurers and some pointers on getting a great policy.
Factors that Affect Your Washington Home Insurance Rates
According to the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, there are some set guidelines that insurance providers will use when setting your rates. By understanding these, you will know which items you have some control over. When looking at the actual structure of your home items like the construction material, square footage of your home, the number of rooms and any additional features like garages and sheds will be considered. This is because this all impacts the risk the insurance company agrees to take on, and the amount of money they will need to pay out, if something does happen to your home. These are also the criteria that will help you and your insurer decide how much coverage you need to have.
Other things to think about are the age of your house, how close you live to the nearest fire station, the current condition of your plumbing and electrical systems and your history of keeping the home insured. While you can't move your home closer to the fire department, routine home maintenance of the systems is within your control, and tells the insurer that you are a responsible home owner. In fact, even if you install some of these security devices later you can contact your insurer and ask about a discount.
Before offering you a home insurance policy, each company will also look at your job stability, claims history and credit history. While you can't waive a magic wand and make any past mistakes disappear, responsible use and behavior now is going to impact your rates down the road. With rising costs, this is important.
While the state of Texas is renown for its astronomically high homeowners insurance rates, with a 2009 average premium of $1409, Washington State is lucky to be at the low end of these costs. The average premium for a homeowner here in 2009 is $603, granting us the 9th lowest rates in the nation. This is largely due to the fact that we escape many of the natural disasters that states like Texas and Florida are so susceptible to.
Awards for Washington Home Insurance Companies
Selecting an insurer is an important part of the process. Just think about all of the big name businesses and banks that went out of business over the past year. Luckily, there are some companies you can turn to who track the stability of insurance providers. Groups like the Better Business Bureau, AM Best, Standard & Poor's and Moody's all have their own criteria for ranking these businesses.
Each year, JD Power and Associates runs a National Homeowners Insurance Study. The 2008 study gave its annual award to Amica Mutual for the 7th year in a row. The report also gave the highest of ratings to USAA; however, this company only provides coverage to military families and is not eligible to receive the reward.
The report used a 5 star rating system and determined an average numerical rating of 752 points to represent the industry average. Amica received a score of 830 out of a possible 900, while USAA received the highest with 877. In descending order, other popular insurers on the list included State Farm, Nationwide, the Hartford, Liberty Mutual and Allstate. The report also says that 42% of policies holders had their premiums increased in 2009.
How to Find Cheap Washington Home Insurance Rates
Although we pay less for home insurance than many states, chances are that you still want to make sure you are paying the lowest price possible for the most appropriate insurance for your home. The state insurance commissioner's office offers these suggestions on how residents can lower their WA homeowners insurance rates. First of all, maintain your home to the best of your ability. Cleaning chimneys and gutters, maintaining plumbing, electrical and heating systems will minimize the event of damage. Plus, many policies will not pay for damage that is due to neglect of these systems. However, by keeping systems up to date you will avoid the need to file claims and qualify for lower rates.
Secondly, gets rates from several Washington homeowners insurance companies. You can approach the companies that provide your other policies to ask about piggybacking policies for lower rates. Or you can use an online rate quote tool like the one on the top of this page that will retrieve quotes from several insurers so you can make a better selection based on price and benefits. Third, take a close look at your deductible. Can you afford to pay more out of pocket? If you have that ability, then raising your deductible should result in a lower monthly premium.
Finally, ask about the discounts that each insurer will grant you. If you've been with the company for years, ask about a long time customer discount. Non-smokers will often qualify for a discount. You can get further rate cuts by installing smoke alarms, fire alarms, burglar alarms and sprinkler systems to protect your dwelling. In the end, Washington home owners who are the most involved in the process will reap the best rates.
Get Washington Home Insurance Quotes!
There you have it! You now know some of the things that you can do to find cheap Washington homeowners insurance coverage so put your newfound knowledge to good use and get started comparing free Washington homeowners insurance quotes online today!