Homeowners make decisions every day. Often these decisions can adversely impact the cost of their homeowners insurance policy. As the economy continues to change, it is wise to shop for your insurance at least every two years. Often you'll find that your current insurance agent or insuring company are providing the best coverage for the right amount of money. Remember, too, that it's not always just the dollar to consider. Customer service and agent availability are very important.

Whether shopping or just renewing your policy, to know if any changes you plan to make to your home or household will increase your premiums, contact your agent and discuss it with him or her. You might be able to choose an alternative plan that will not cause your rates to increase.

Here are 5 common items that should be discussed with your agent or the agents you're interviewing when shopping for a new policy or insurance company:

1. Credit score
Though many feel this is an unfair practice, especially in today’s economy, many insurance companies use your credit score to determine rates. Statistics show that people with a lower credit score file more claims, thus if you have a lot of debt and low credit scores, your premium will be higher.

Don't just assume that if your credit score is low, it will affect your rates. Again, this is an issue that not all companies consider - and many are taking the economy into consideration and also look at what caused the score, rather than just look at the raw numbers.

2. Pets
Liability claims are on the rise due to dog bites. Some insurance companies will not even write a policy for certain breeds. When it's time to welcome a dog into the household, choose wisely. Stay away from Pitbulls and Rottweilers, for example, and choose a breed that commonly has a less aggressive behavior.

3. Shed or other outbuilding
When there are more items to insure, it often creates an increase in your insurance premium. This can be a mini-barn, pole barn, pool house or any other self-standing structure that is on your property.

4. Swimming pool
Swimming pools normally increase your liability. Be sure to install a fence or locking pool cover.

5. Trampoline
Owning a trampoline doesn’t mean your rates will automatically go up, but they might. Be sure to let your agent know of your intent and ask how it will affect your premium. Not having the knowledge could create an issue if you need to file a claim.

There are plenty of other decisions that will impact your homeowners insurance premium so be sure to call your insurance agent for advice before making your choices. Knowing ahead of time how these decisions will affect your insurance premium will prepare you. This doesn't mean you should - or should not - go ahead with your choices, but it's best to know so you're making an educated decision.

Often people say they would have done something differently if they had known. By taking that "if" out of the picture, your decisions will be made based on having all the information you need. As with many things in life, it's best not to be surprised by an increase in your insurance premiums.

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman has found that a wide range of corporate experience served her well in late 2004 as she and her husband, Mike, pursued their entrepreneurial dream. As President of Hartman Inventory LLC,, a personal property inventory service, Cindy brought her corporate marketing, customer service, training and finance experience into the business. This experience came from industries that included retail, manufacturing, education and distribution.

Additionally, she is Vice President of Hartman Inventory Systems LLC, which is a turnkey package that assists others who have a desire for business ownership. Interest in this new, growing industry is a result of having been burglarized twice. Experiencing the difficulty of the insurance claims process and resulting potential loss after a burglary, fire or natural disaster, she has made it her mission to share the importance of knowing what you own with business owners, renters and home owners. She shares this knowledge through her company newsletter and blogs.