Insurance Companies Can Attract New Client by Advertising Discounts to Homeowners Who Make These Improvements

BY Rachel Cagle
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"With home-​improvement season in full swing, this is the time of year when you might make upgrades that can protect your home from burglaries, fires, and storms, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. According to Consumer Reports, if you take steps to make your home safer, your homeowners insurance company could reward you with a premium discount, depending on what you've done."

According to AudienceSCAN, 67.5% of U.S. adults are homeowners. This year, they want to buy things that help them feel comfortable (49.4%) and safe/​secure (20.9%). However, only 12.1% plan to hire handyman services in the coming year. That may be because they don't realize their potential insurance savings.

"Here are five home improvements to consider."

"1. Install a Security System"

"You could get a break on your home insurance premium if you install a burglar alarm or a more sophisticated home-​security system, which is tied to an outside monitoring system. The discount will likely be higher with the home security system, says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry group based in New York."

"Some insurers will ask for an "alarm certificate" that shows that your system communicates with the local police or a private security company, Barry notes."

"The discount: The amount you can save varies but discounts for stand-​alone burglar alarms range from 2 to 5% among insurers in Maine, for example, including Travelers and several regional companies, says Gary Blackwell, who operates an independent insurance agency in Corinth, Maine."

"And if you have a home security system, you could shave an additional 2 to 3% off the premium, he says."

"2. Improve Major Home Systems"

"If you upgrade the electrical, heating, and plumbing systems in your home, your home insurer may reduce your premium because your home will be less vulnerable to fires or flooding from a burst inside pipe, which is covered by homeowners insurance."

"The discount: Farmers Insurance offers an average, 6% cut to your premium when you completely replace your plumbing during a remodel; you'll get an additional 2% off if you completely overhaul your electrical system."

"For new or remodeled homes, Amica offers discounts on the entire premium of up to 33 percent. But Lynn Malloney, a senior assistant vice president at Amica, says that the criteria depend on the kind of improvement, and eligibility varies from state to state."

"3. Replace the Roof"

"In 20 states prone to hail, replacing your roof can trigger a "roof age" discount. In other cases, you may need to install a specific type of roof to get a reduction in your homeowners insurance. A number of insurers will trim premiums for customers in areas prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, or wildfire, for example, if they purchase a "fortified" roof made of stronger materials, says Susan Millerick, a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, based in Tampa, FL."

"The discount: State Farm offers a discount of up to 35% for impact-​resistant roofs in some states, to reduce any damage from hail and other wind-​borne objects. The discounts vary, though, depending on location."

"Kathy Ziprick, spokesperson for DaVinci Roofscapes, based in Lenexa, Kan., says clients who have replaced roofs with fortified versions have reported premium discounts from their insurers ranging from 5% to 15%, or more. "The discounts seem to be highest in California, where fires are more common," she says."

"When insurers offer discounts because of new roofing, they may only give breaks for certain products from specific manufacturers. Check with your carrier before replacing your roof. State Farm, for instance, publishes lists of eligible roofing materials for policyholders in 26 states, as well as Alberta, Canada. The insurer gives breaks on asphalt composition shingles, clay tiles, concrete tiles, metal, and slate shingles, among others."

"In states prone to windstorms, adding protective devices such as roof clips could garner savings. In Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, and South Carolina, for instance, USAA offers discounts for other storm-​related improvements, such as storm shutters."

"4. Add Sensors and Detectors"

"Depending on where you live, adding smoke detectors or sensor systems that detect gas leaks or extreme temperature changes could reduce your insurance bill."

"Blackwell, the Maine insurance agent, notes that some of his clients have saved on premiums by installing "freeze alarms," when they're not home and the temperature in their homes drops below a preset number, the system will contact a designated person by phone, text, or email. That person can then adjust the heat settings."

"The discount: While smoke detectors are required in most parts of the country, and often don't garner a discount, it's still worth checking to see if you can get a break on your premium. Some insurers may offer 2 to 5% off for those devices, Blackwell says."

"For systems that detect gas leaks or extreme temperature changes, Blackwell says some insurers will give a 3 to 5% discount."

"State Farm says it offers discounts of up to 6% for homes with certain fire, smoke, or burglar alarms. Travelers gives a discount for homes equipped with smart home technology that lets you know remotely when a fire or burglary is happening."

"If you have a home water-​leak detection system, Farmers Insurance says it shaves an average 3% off the premium charged. Such a detector notifies you of likely plumbing leaks almost instantaneously. "It gives homeowners the opportunity to turn off the main water valve before too much water damage occurs," says Farmers' Kraft."

"5. Get a Generator"

"Your insurer may reward you if you install a generator. A working generator helps ensure that systems and appliances run by electricity, such as central air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and sump pumps, continue to operate during and after a power outage."

"Maintaining those systems can reduce the likelihood of costly mishaps and insurance claims for perils such as basements flooded from burst pipes. (Homeowners insurance covers flooding caused by a malfunction in your own home's systems; for flooding caused by water or mud coming from the outside, you'll need flood insurance.)"

"The discount: Amica offers discounts of 4 to 10% on the property portion of its homeowners policy, if you have an automatic generator. The specific discount depends on where you live."

"Natalie DiCecca, director of operations for Gordon Atlantic Insurance, an agency based in Norwell, MA, says the regional carriers that her company represents offer discounts between 5 and 10% off the homeowners premium. On the typical, $1,500 policy her customers buy, that's an annual savings of up to $150 a year."

"To be eligible, homeowners need to show proof to insurers that the generator is permanently installed by a licensed professional, DiCecca says."

These home improvements and their potential insurance savings can be promoted to homeowners in a number of ways. According to AudienceSCAN, Homeowners are 7% more likely than other adults to take action after seeing a newspaper ad. Newspapers are where 19.1% of this audience gets their local news. Another 46.8% get most of their news from the TV and 60% reacted to TV ads in the last year. Another good way to target Homeowners is through direct mail ads. Last year, 58.2% took action after receiving ads and/​or coupons in the mail.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.