Taxes & Insurance

One way to hold down homeowners insurance costs is to take advantage of potential discounts—some of which you may already qualify for without knowing it, others of which might help pay for an upgrade you might want to have anyway. They include:

* Security systems. By informing the insurer you have installed smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, and dead-bolt locks, you may knock 5 percent off of your annual premium. If you also have a sprinkler system as well as a fire and burglar alarm that contacts a central monitoring station, your discount might go as high as 20 percent.

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* Monitoring systems. A central monitoring system will detect a water leak and shut down the water flow; it can also raise the home’s temperature to keep pipes from freezing. Such systems might reduce your insurance bill by 2 percent.

* Weather-proofing. These additions might range from storm shutters and shatter-proof glass to shut-off valves for gas lines that can detect earthquake activity. A back-up generator and a wind-resistant roof also help. Altogether, such precautions could deliver a 20 percent discount.