Did you know that you could receive a smoke free home discount, simply for choosing not to smoke? Insurance companies want to thank nonsmoking homeowners by reducing their annual premium rates. This is because smoking has proven itself to be a dangerous habit—not just for yourself, but for your home as well.
Smoking cigarettes has been on the decline for years in the United States. However, it still remains a significant risk for homeowners. Smokers account for a large number of home-related insurance claims. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), in 2011, there were approximately 17,600 smoking-material home structure fires. This means that the home was significantly damaged because of a lit tobacco product that wasn’t extinguished properly, was mishandled, or involved in an incident. Of those fires, 490 civilians died, 1,370 were injured, and there was $516 million in property damage.
As with other incidents involving your home, homeowners would first need to file a claim with their insurance company. If the loss qualifies for compensation, then the claimant will be awarded money to repair or replace the damaged areas of the home. Property damage caused by smoking can be very costly for home insurance companies, and so they try to discourage smoking by offering a discount.
The smoke free home discount will vary between insurance carriers. Usually when you purchase your insurance policy, your agent will ask you several questions to get to know you. One of the questions will be whether you are a smoker or nonsmoker. According to Madelyn Flannagan, a vice president for the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, “With home insurance, it is one of those underwriting questions that does provide a credit for some policies in some states. It’s not a rating tier, however; you don’t go to a nonsmoker rate for home insurance the way you do with life insurance.”
If your smoking habits have changed, or you weren’t asked a question about smoking when you purchased your insurance, speak with your independent insurance agent. They will let you know if the carrier offers the discount and the current discount rates.
In general, the smoke free discount will be between five and ten percent. However, this rate has begun to decrease as the number of smokers in the US continues to decline and the home construction materials become more flame resistant. One insurance company in Vermont has reduced the discount to two percent and they eventually plan to eliminate the discount completely. So, contact your agent and take advantage of this discount while it is still available.
Since 19 percent of adults in the United States smokes, the NFPA recommends that smokers take the following precautions to protect themselves and their home from damage:
- Always smoke outside your home.
- Use an ashtray and set it on a sturdy fire-resistant structure.
- Make sure the cigarette has been fully extinguished. Use sand or water if needed.
- Check around your home, like in between furniture cushions, for loose cigarette butts.
- Do not smoke inside if the occupant uses a medical oxygen tank.
- Always be alert.
Speak to An Agent
If you are a smoker, or your insurance company does not offer a smoke free home discount, ask your agent about other available discounts. They will have the knowledge and expertise to recommend the right insurance products and discounts to best suit your needs. You may be rewarded for making smart choices to keep your home safe, or being a responsible insurance customer. For example, there are discounts for paying your premium in full, paying by an electronic transfer of funds, investing in a hail-resistant roof, or installing a home security alarm. So, contact your agent today.
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