7 ways to save on your homeowner's insurance

Here's an area where a little knowledge can mean money saved. The cost of your homeowners insurance, which averages nearly $1,000 a year nationwide, could come down a bit if you qualify for any of a handful of discounts that you might not be aware of.

Bankrate.com scoured homeowner policy terms from the largest issuers of the insurance in the country and identified a slew of discounts. The most common are for such things as security systems and smoke alarms, Bankrate said. But many others you could find surprising. For example, three of top 10 insurers offer an "early shopper" discount for getting a price quote and switching companies prior to your old policy expiring.

"Insurance agents often do not volunteer information about discounts, so it's up to the consumer to ask," Crissinda Ponder, Bankrate.com insurance analyst, said. "You can't assume your insurer knows that you recently renovated your home or installed a new security system. A short phone call with your rep could potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year."

Here are six other discounts in the Bankrate report you should consider:

  • A roof designed to withstand natural disasters. Four of the top 10 insurers offer discounts to homeowners who have a roof covered with materials that make it less likely to be destroyed in a major storm.
  • New homes. If you buy a new house or renovate the one you have, eight of the 10 insurers will reward you.
  • Being older. Senior citizens can get a price drop on their insurance with three of the top 10 homeowners insurance providers.
  • Membership has privileges. Whether it's a professional association, a group or even a fraternity or sorority, it's worth checking to see if that membership can save you money. Two of the 10 insurers offer such discounts.
  • Loyalty. Sticking with the same insurer can deliver a reward. Two of the 10 offer a discount for those who've been with the company for a long time.
  • Not smoking. Letting your insurer know there are no smokers in the home could lead to a discount. Two of the 10 companies offer that incentive.
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    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.