Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Buying a New Home? Be Insurance-Smart with these Helpful Tips!

Buying a new home – especially for the first time – often represents a landmark moment in the life of a prospective buyer, be it on account of a growing family, a new relationship or simply the next logical step forward in life. Exciting though the experience of becoming an official “homeowner” can often be, however, this process often carries with it certain risks, both with respect to the safety of the house’s new occupants and the home insurance hikes which are likely to follow. Features within the home itself or around the property which insurance companies deem to be potentially hazardous are almost certain to result in hikes in a homeowner’s premiums, as these companies will inevitably view such features as liabilities likely to contribute to the chances of an accident. Only by making sure that a home is safe and hazard-free before purchasing it can a buyer guarantee lower home insurance rates for themselves, as well as a safer overall experience in the home over the years that follow.

What, then, is the best way to ensure that a home is free of potentially costly hazards or other concerns before buying? In this case, thoroughness and common sense really are the name of the game, and to illustrate this point we’ve included several of the most important considerations to make when buying a new home below. Follow these pointers and you’re almost certain to be rewarded with a safer home, less costly home insurance rates and a more enjoyable living experience in the months and years to come.

1. While they aren’t technically part of the home itself, any trees on the property – especially old or large ones – should be thoroughly inspected. This is an important step which can be considered and, to some degree, investigated, before even moving on to the safety inspection of the home. Some trees can pose a liability if they appear to be in danger of damaging the home in some way; old trees which might be structurally weak and susceptible to collapse, for instance, or large trees positioned close to the home itself, are likely to be seen as a cause for concern by insurance providers. In order to avoid any problems or causes for worry that might result from trees on the property, you might want to have an arborist inspect the trees and give the go-ahead before buying. In cases where certain trees are problematic, the problem might also be solved simply by pruning them or having them cut down.

2. Swimming pools, though often enjoyable to have and use, can cause all sorts of problems. In most cases, insurance providers will view swimming pools as sources of significant risk; this, in turn, might well add costs to your insurance premiums unless certain measures are taken – having the pool securely enclosed by a fence of a minimum height for instance. For these reasons, it is wise to make sure that any above- or below-ground pools on the property meet necessary safety standards before investing in the home.

3. Make sure that the house is electrically sound and meets all necessary electrical safety codes. This is a big one, especially given the fire hazards that can be posed by a faulty or out-of-date electrical system. In many cases, however, the chances of a home’s electrical system posing a safety risk depend on its age and type of electrical wiring; systems with aluminum wiring or knob-and-tube wiring, for instance, are usually thought to pose greater risks but are also generally only found in older homes. Nevertheless, it is wise to have an electrician assess the state and safety of a home’s wiring before buying it; only when the system is up to code should you consider making a purchase, or your home insurance premiums – not to mention your family’s safety – could soon be placed in jeopardy.