How to Lower Home Insurance Costs: 16 Factors Used by Insurers to Calculate Your Rates

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If you are getting a new home insurance policy, there are many things that could impact and lower home insurance costs. Today’s blog zooms on this topic and explains, in detail, what could be driving up your rates. These drivers apply both to insurance for a condo and insurance for a house or apartment.

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To start with, the rebuilding value of your home and the value of its contents are important to consider.

The more expensive your home is to rebuild and the contents are to replace, the higher the premiums.  It is important to know that insurers do not look at the market value of the home, but at estimated rebuild costs – which they base on things such as your square footage and unique home characteristics.

We compiled an overview of 16 factors that impact your home insurance rates. Knowing what drives the costs will allow you to address some of these issues in order to reduce the premiums.

Part I: Home Insurance and Busilding

Buiding and Home Insurance: Lower Home Insurance Costs

FactorAlternative 1:
(Higher Rates)
Alternative 2Alternative 3:
(Lower Rates)
Impact on rate
1-WiringKnob and tube wiring
- Older wiring used prior to 1950
- Most dangerous wiring (no ground wire, old and worn out wires)
Aluminum wiring
- Used in the 1960s and 1970s
- Can overheat if not connected properly
- May require electrical inspection
Cooper wiring
- Standard wiring
- Widely used today
High
2-PlumbingGalvanized or lead
- Installed before 1960s
- Steel pipes covered with zinc
- Buildup of corrosion with impact e.g. on water pressure and water quality (lead)
Poly-B or Kitec
- Installed in 1970s to 1990s
- Known design flaw results in leaks and burst pipes
Copper, PEX / PVC / PB or
other plastics

- Used in modern homes
- Withstands high and low temperatures
- Resistant to chemicals in plumbing environment
High
3-FrameWood
- More likely to suffer from fire
- Often used for smaller houses
Masonry
- Used prior to 1970
- Built with concrete/cinder blocks or double wall brick
Concrete or brick
- Most stable house frames
- Always used for high-rise buildings
Medium
4-alarm-monitoringNone
- Higher risk of accidents or crimes
Alarm system
- Some security through potential warning
Security guard
- Live monitoring through an on-site guard
- Lowest risk through potential pre-warning and mitigation
Low
5-age-and-renovationsOld house, no renovations
- High chance of accidents
- E.g. roof not replaced in 25 years
- Potential pipe burst, leakage, fire, etc.
Old house, some renovations
- Premium reduction for repaired house elements e.g. roof, plumbing
New house
- Lowest risk of any issues due to construction
- Use of the most modern construction standards
High
6-stoveWood stoves
- Seen as potential source of fire
- Can lead to monoxide poisoning
- Requires a thorough inspection
Gas stoves
- Should be properly installed
- Sometimes may require inspection
No Stoves / Electric stove
- No risk of fire originating from stove
High
7-heatingOil-heated
- Can cause environmental hazards
- Age and condition of a tank can impact premiums as well
Gas fuelled, fixed space heaters
- Significant risk
- Potential monoxide poisoning
Electric heat or forced-air gas furnace
- Widely used and considered safe
High
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Part II: Home Insurance and Location

Location and Home Insurance: Lower Home Insurance Costs

FactorAlternative 1:
(Higher Rates)
Alternative 2Alternative 3:
(Lower Rates)
Impact on rate
8-LocationBC, AB, SK and MB
- History of earthquakes in British Columbia
- History of flooding, windstorms, and hailstorms in some Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba regions
ON and QC
- A few severe flooding incidents, wind storms and hail storms in the past in Ontario
- History of ice storms in both Ontario and Quebec
- Some earthquake history in Quebec
Atlantic provinces
- Some history of hurricanes in Atlantic provinces
- Little history or earthquakes in Atlantic provinces
High
9-NeighbourhoodUnsecure and dangerous
- High crime rate
- History of break-ins
Relatively secure
- Low crime rate
- Occasional break-ins in the past
Very safe and secure
- Very low crime rate
- Very limited to no history of break-ins
High
10-Hydrant-and-Fire-StationFar from water sources and fire hall
- Fire hydrant beyond 300 m and fire hall beyond 8 km
- The highest risk of fire-realted damages
Not very close to water sources and fire hall
- Fire hydrant within 300 m and fire hall beyond 8 km
- Considerable risk of fire-realted damages
Close to water sources and fire hall
- Fire hydrant within 300 m and fire hall within 8 km
- Water sources are often in direct view
Medium

Part III: You and Your Insurance Needs

Your Insurance Needs and Home Insurance: Lower Home Insurance Costs

FactorAlternative 1:
(Higher Rates)
Alternative 2Alternative 3:
(Lower Rates)
Impact on rate
11-Property-Type-CoverageHouse owner
- Building and contents
- Detached buildings on the lot
- Fences, garden and trees
- Pool, etc.
Condo owner
- Contents
- Condo assessments
- Unit improvements
Tenant
- Only contents
High
12-Your-Age-Family-StatusSingle, not married
- Seen by insurers as the highest risk
Married
- Lower risk as seen by insurers
Retirees
- Spends most time at home and thus likely to detect any danger
Low
13-Policy-TypePolicy as-it-is
- No additional endorsements/riders
- No extra protection purchased
Policy with a single rider
- Adding extra protection for one or few areas e.g. sewer backup
Policy with multiple riders and additional coverage
- E.g. sewer backup, living expenses
- Coverage for jewelry, wine collection, artwork
Medium
14-Available-DiscountsNone
- No discounts applicable or aware of
Single discount
- Use of a single discount only e.g. bundle of home and auto insurance
Numerous discounts
- Alumni, job discounts
- Bundle discounts
- Loyalty and ages discounts
Medium
15-DeductiblesZero-deductible
- Highest risk for insurer since the insurer will always pay for everything
Small deductible (e.g. several hundred dollars)
- You pay the deductible first in case of a claim
- Insurer covers the rest
High deductible (e.g. several thousand dollars)
- The lowest risk for insurer
- You pay the deductible first
- Insurers risk exposure is lower
Medium
16-Business-at-HomeBusiness with numerous assets
- Running business from home including numerous assets
- E.g. equipment, hardware, materials
Business with a few / no assets
- Running home business without significant assets
- E.g. laptop as an only asset
No business run from home
- No additional coverage for business assets required
Medium

We compiled these insights for you with the kind support of Daniel Mirkovic from Square One Insurance, an insurance provider focused exclusively on home insurance. We hope this information will help you get lower home insurance rates and better understand the complex aspects of home insurance.

Posted in Home Insurance

2 comments on “How to Lower Home Insurance Costs: 16 Factors Used by Insurers to Calculate Your Rates
  1. Karen Angell says:

    i would like to speak to an insurance broker regarding home insurance in the town of High River. This property was not affected by 2013 flood. Would like comparative quotes. Thank you

  2. Alex F says:

    Hi Karen,

    Unfortunately our partners do not offer home insurance in High River at this time. Here are a couple High River brokers that you can try though:

    Rangeland Agencies 78
    403.652.4104

    C Bradley Insurance Agency
    403.652.5201

    Western Financial Group
    403.652.2224

    Good luck,
    Alex @ InsurEye

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