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Home Insurance

Beat the Storm Surge

Here's how to hang on to your coverage if you live along the coasts.

Although insurers have pulled back on wholesale cancellations, you're wise to do all you can to hold on to coverage with a reputable company, if you have it.

RELATED LINKS

Keeping a Lid on Home Premiums

Insurance Deals Along the Coasts

Avoid making small claims. They could get you dropped.

Raise your deductible so you'll get a break on your premiums (for most people, it should be at least $1,000 or $2,500). Some insurers of coastal homes are raising deductibles to 2% to 5% of the home's value -- or up to $25,000 on a $500,000 home. Build up your emergency fund to cover potential expenses.

Improve your home's ability to withstand storms so that you'll be less likely to make a claim. "Install storm shutters, replace the roof when it needs it, trim trees," says Mike McCartin, an independent insurance agent in College Park, Md. And tell your insurer about the improvements you've made: "We found that about 14% of our people weren't getting discounts they were already eligible for," says Kevin McCarty, Florida's insurance commissioner. "If you have reinforced your roof, tell your agent."

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If all else fails and you are dropped, your best bet is to work with an independent agent (to find one, go to www.iiaba.net). And if you're tempted by an insurer offering a low premium, check the company's complaint record at your state insurance department's Web site (you can find links to the state sites at kiplinger.com/money/insurance).