Your home is your single largest investment, and being responsible means protecting your investment. Homeowner’s insurance can sometimes be costly, but it doesn’t need to be a budget breaker. There are many lesser-known credits available for homeowners to help lower premiums. Homeowner’s insurance credits tend to fall into one of three categories: home security, home maintenance and personal credits. Availability and eligibility vary, so be sure to ask your agent.

Home Security Credits

Get credit for keeping your home safe.

A security system is one of the best-known and most common credits. A security system can be as simple as dead bolt locks or as sophisticated as a full-blown system connected to a central monitoring station. Carriers may offer discounts up to 20% for a full security system.

Ever come home to find a broken pipe? While it costs you time, it costs insurers money. There are sensors for plumbing to detect leaky or freezing pipes. Some systems actually turn off the water when a leak is detected. There are also sensors that scan for natural gas leaks. Insurers credit 2-10% for being proactive.

A gated community does more than keep undesirables out. The extra security makes you attractive to insurers. It can score a homeownerÕs insurance discount of 5-20% off the premium.

You couldn’t afford the gated community, so you opted for a subdivision with a homeowner’s association (HOA). HOAs don’t afford the discount of a gated community, but still offer a credit. Homeowners tend to be more attentive in HOAs, lowering the overall risk. The credit ranges from 5-10%.

Home Maintenance Credits

Insurers give lower rates for newer homes since the risk of damage is lower. Live in an older home? These credits can decrease your premium while increasing the value.

Older homes have older wiring and your insurer is charging you for it. Wiring accounts for twice as many electrical fires as appliances annually. Hire an electrician with experience in rewiring homes. Not only will your home be safer, you could reap a 10% credit on your homeowner’s policy.

One of the biggest expenses to insurers is roof replacement. When the roofing material is gone, water damage increases exponentially. If you live in a hurricane or tornado prone area, you may want to invest in Class 4 impact-resistant roofing. It can get you a 5-10% credit on your premium.

Personal Credits

Personal credits range from being a non-smoker to achieving normal retirement age.

Car insurers offer lower premiums for each year you go without an accident. Homeowners insurers often do the same thing. While this is a fairly new discount, several companies offer it. The credit is generally up to 20% if you’re claim free for 10 years.

One of the first questions on a life insurance application is, “Do you smoke?” Home insurers now ask this question as well. A smoker increases the risk of accidental fire. While there is no tier pricing for non-smoking as there is in life insurance, you can get a credit of 5-15% off your premium.

You spent 40 plus years in the grind of a job. Now you’re at home enjoying the fruits of your labor. Your insurer may reward you for that milestone too. When you’re home, you can catch that little puddle under the sink when the dishwasher runs before it becomes a full-fledged leak that damages the floor resulting in a claim. Credits for being retired range from 10-25%.

Insuring your biggest investment doesn’t have to be costly. By asking a few questions and doing a bit of research, you can pay less and invest more.

Jennifer Graham is an insurance consultant and assists homeowners with assigning value for their property losses. She recommends online quotes as a point of comparison, for example at www.policyexpert.co.uk/home-insurance/ you can get quotes and coverage details from one site.