Chicago Homeowners Insurance - Be Prepared Year Round for Unpredictable Weather
"Unpredictable" is probably the word used most often to describe Chicago in terms of the weather. The Windy City can also be accurately described as a seasonal city, with residents experiencing the temperatures of all four seasons.
Springtime in Chicago usually means a significant amount of rain. In the summer, heat and humidity rule the city, and temperatures can vary from 75-95, with residents sometimes experiencing the gamut in one day, along with unstable air masses that can spring some pretty spectacular thunder storms.. During the fall, residents can experience the same large difference in temperatures as they do in the summer. Winter temperatures can remain below freezing for the duration of the season, with a lot of lake-effect snow.
There's no doubt that Chicago residents know how to be prepared for the weather, because it can change at any time, and on a dime. But it's just as important to be prepared for the potential damages from the many natural weather events that can occur during all four seasons.
Getting a Chicago homeowners insurance policy from a reputable company can mean several things. It can mean saving money on your monthly insurance payments, getting the answers you need without waiting, and having your claims settled so that you can get on with regular life again.
The 4 Things You Can Implement Now to Reduce Your Premiums
Every homeowner wonders about whether or not they can lower their premiums for homeowners insurance. And while there may be many factors that cannot be changed, such as where a home is located and its value, there are several ways to reduce home insurance premiums.
1. Home Security
How secure is your home? Many homeowners are surprised to learn that improving their home security can translate directly into lower premiums. Locks are the most common way to enhance security; swapping out older locks for modern, premium models can drastically reduce the possibility of burglary, which your insurance company will look upon with favor.
When considering locks, the security of windows as well as doors should be considered. Experts recommend having at least two bolt locks in cases where windows don't already have a locking system in place.
The installation of a home security system can score big points with your homeowners insurance company. Comparison shopping for companies, along with ensuring a company monitors both for fire as well as burglaries are both good ideas.
2. Combining Policies
You can also lower homeowners insurance premiums by having your homeowners policy under the same company as your life or automobile insurance policies. Or, you may wish to go the opposite way, and transfer your auto and life insurance policies to the same company where you get your homeowners insurance policy from if their rates are lower.
Of course, it's always a good idea to take your time and shop around before choosing an insurance company. This will help you to get a good idea of what's out there as far as companies, coverage and costs are concerned. Hand-in-hand with shopping around is taking a good look at what your current company offers, especially if it has been many years since you've done so. You may find that you're in a different stage of life that requires less coverage than you had previously.
3. Taking More Risks Up Front
If you are willing to pay a higher deductible, then you can enjoy lower rates. Raising your deductible can lower your homeowners insurance premiums by as much as 25%. Deductibles are often the most confusing aspect of the process for homeowners, and so this may take some time to figure out.
The most important thing to remember, say experts, is that although a high deductible may translate into a lot of money, insurance is no longer intended to cover every expense when a claim is filed. These days, it's more of a partnership between the homeowner and the insurance company, with both parties sharing the risk.
4. Improving Your Score
These days, homeowners insurance premiums are increasingly priced by the credit information companies can obtain about individuals. And so homeowners who have several credit accounts, come close to maxing out their cards or have trouble paying their bills on time may also find they pay higher premiums for homeowners insurance. Improving your credit score may take time, but it can be worth it if your goal is to lower your homeowners insurance premiums.
Although lowering your premiums may take a bit of time and effort, you can learn a lot through the process, which makes you an even more informed consumer than before.
Available Chicago Home Insurance Packages
Residents of Chicago can choose from three types of home insurance:
- HO1, 'bare bones' coverage
- HO2, basic coverage
- HO3, all risk coverage
HO1 is the most basic coverage that's available, protecting homeowners from:
The HO1 policy does not protect homeowners against water damage of any kind, which could be an issue should you incur damages from possible spring flooding. However, water coverage can be purchased for an additional premium.
The HO2 policy covers homeowners for the same perils as the HO1, but with the addition of
- Freezing damages
- Water and steam damages from heating and plumbing malfunction
- Building and home collapse
- Sudden and accidental tearing apart, bulging, cracking or burning
- Sudden and accidental damage from artificially-generated electrical current
Although sudden and accidental water damage is covered by the HO2 policy, several types of water damage are not. Excluded types of water damage are:
- Damage from slow leaks
- Damage resulting from water backup
- Damage due to foundation
In addition to water damage exclusions, open perils are not covered. An open peril is something that an insurance policy will cover, unless it's been named specifically as an exclusion in your policy.
This policy type offers all risk coverage, and remains the broadest form of coverage that can be had without the need to purchase and add on several premiums. There are eight exclusions for coverage with the HO3 policy:
- Vermin, including mice and rats
- Freezing damages during times your home was unoccupied
- Property damages due to earthquake
- Shrub and tree damages from wind and hail
- Damage due to water seepage
- Living expenses while away from the home for over sixty days
Choosing The Right Amount Of Coverage
Choosing the right total insurance limit for your home and family is important, as it is this limit which will dictate the limits of all sub insurances. Being prepared prior to signing your home policy is the best way to understand how much coverage you need.
Conduct an inventory of your belongings, including all original receipts, and then add them together. If you are unsure of the value of items like antiques and silverware, a professional valuation may be in order. Should the total value of your belongings suggest a higher insurance limit, it will become important to figure out whether you are able to carry some personal risk and sign up for a higher deductible.
While lenders require that a Chicago homeowners insurance policy be in place while you are paying off your mortgage, even if you have already paid off your home, or you rent, it's important to have adequate coverage in order to protect yourself.
You can easily compare homeowners insurance quotes in order to shop around for the best rates. But price isn't the only criteria. Make sure you select a reputable company who has been in business for awhile, or who is backed by a solid corporation.
Most people think homeowners insurance coverage is optional even if you are a renter, but check your fine print. It is possible that this type of coverage is required in order for you to not be in breach of your lease contract.