Home buyers often think that all of their hard work ends once their offer on a home is accepted. While it would be nice to believe that everything from your offer being accepted through closing is rosy, the truth is a bit different. That is because there are a lot more hoops to jump through before home ownership becomes a reality. Namely, you have to secure a home insurance policy. This might not sound difficult, but if you don’t get a head start on your policy search, you may find that you can’t get one at all. Below we’ve outlined why home buyers win when they plan ahead for homeowners insurance.

Be Aware of Risk: Any home–whether it is brand new or it has been standing for years–likely comes with a few problems. Thankfully, as long as you’re well-armed with information about your home, securing the right kind of insurance policy shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you’re not knowledgeable about the land where your home is located, or you haven’t properly looked into your builder, you could be in for a headache. Be sure to spend time researching not only things like walkability and the nearest school districts, but also potential red flags. Is your home located in an area that has experienced natural disasters such as flooding? Has any part of the home been remodeled–and if so, why? Has your builder had any claims or lawsuits filed against him/her? What were they for? Know how much risk you’re assuming prior to approaching an insurance agency about a homeowners policy. It will help prepare you for how much you’ll need to pay out for the right policy.

Start Shopping Early: In the past, it was relatively easy to simply call up your insurance agency and be given a homeowners policy in just a few days. Sometimes you still can, but in most cases processing your request takes time, paperwork, and a lot of questions. Begin looking for an insurance company as soon as your offer is accepted. In most cases, this means you have a couple of weeks to line everything up and work out any problems well before the closing date. Remember to inquire about bundled policies, such as home and auto, which could save you more money than if your policies were with separate companies.

Keep Track of Your Credit: Good credit isn’t just necessary for purchasing a home–you also need to have good credit to be granted an insurance policy. A lot of insurers actually run your credit history before they are willing to issue a policy. What’s more, poor credit indicates that you’re actually at a higher risk to file a claim. Ultimately, this could lead to a rejection of your request for a policy. Don’t let this happen to you. Keep track of your credit with a credit tracking tool or by running credit reports for yourself regularly. Check your report for errors and work to clear up any issues that your credit report indicates.

When you get started early searching for an insurance policy, you’re much more likely to find success. Follow the tips we’ve outlined above, and you should have a much easier time finding a policy that works for your family and your new home. If you’re not sure where to begin your insurance agency search, speak to family or friends that you trust and gather their recommendations.