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Six ways to cut insurance costs
There is nothing that makes your wallet squeal louder today than pulling into the gas station and dropping $50. Gasoline prices have risen more than 12 percent over the past 12 months, and some experts are predicting they’ll reach $5 per gallon in the next six months.
The average household now spends $50 per month more on gasoline than last year, notes financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning (www.TheNewThreeLeggedStool.com).
You can try to ease the pain at the pump by using your car less, but you should also look for other places to offset that extra $150. Car insurance is a good place to start.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the national average auto insurance premium is $850 per year. Can you reduce that? Rodgers says you probably can. He offers six ways:
•Shop around regularly. The Internet makes it easy to compare costs for the same coverage, or you can get an independent insurance agent to shop for you. Contact the Independent Agents Association at 1-800-221-7917. (Be sure the company you go with has a good credit rating and claims-paying history).
•Bundle your coverage. Bundling is combining different types of policies (auto, homeowners, liability, etc.) with the same company. The most common combination is packaging your auto insurance and homeowners policies together. Or, find companies that will bundle auto insurance with renter’s or tenant’s insurance. Bundled packages usually result in a 10-percent to 15-percent savings.
•Ask for discounts. You may qualify for discounts, but you won’t know until you ask. They’re commonly offered for good driving records, anti-theft devices, vehicle safety features (anti-lock brakes, air bags, automatic seatbelts), low annual mileage, and insuring more than one car.
•Take a defensive driving class. The amount of discount varies by insurance company and from state to state, although most insurers offer a 10-percent discount on your premium for three years. AARP offers a driver safety program for those over age 50, and it’s available online.
•Increase your deductible. Do your auto and homeowners policies have low deductibles? If so, you may be able to reduce your premiums 15 percent to 30 percent by raising the deductible on your collision and comprehensive coverage. Make sure you have an emergency fund set aside to cover the cost of repairs before you make the change. But your homeowners policy may be the first place to consider raising the deductible, since statistics show the average homeowner files a claim only once every nine years. Be sure to check with your mortgage holder first; some specify maximums.
•Change cars. This is probably the most difficult savings tip to implement, but may have the largest impact on your premium. Used cars are cheaper to insure than new ones (excluding antiques); sports cars are more expensive to insure than minivans. Insurance companies like cars with safety features and low repair costs. Insure.com surveyed 900 vehicles in the 2012 model year and lists the rankings from the most expensive to least expensive on their website. Six of the 10 cheapest were minivans.
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