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Managing the cost of your insurance policy

Deb Williams

When’s the last time you took a serious look at your home or auto insurance? Do you have the right coverage based on your individual need? If you’re a young person, you may not have much to lose, but if you have assets, you need to protect them. In the event of an accident, a lack of coverage can cost you plenty.

Increasing the amount of coverage you carry may not cost you more at all, and in some cases, preferred carriers charge less if you buy more. Are you paying for a rental car you’ll never use, or towing when you already have AAA? Raising your deductible a little can save you money, and if you carry a $250 comprehensive deductible for windshield replacement, you can often replace one for less.

Companies offer similar discounts across the board: claims-free, safe driver, and so on. Be sure to review your policy at least once a year with your agent. If you’ve gone back to school or are in the military, many companies offer additional discounts.

Are you monitoring when tickets should be removed so your rates go down? A good agent will help you track these items and will save you money in the long run. Don’t try to go online and be your own insurance agent. You may select items you don’t need and forget something you do.

When purchasing a home and homeowners insurance is included in your payment, it may become out of sight, out of mind. Mortgage payments are adjusted over the years and people rarely think about their insurance being a part of it. Lowering your insurance premium will lower your mortgage payment.

Consider raising your homeowner deductible to $1,000. It takes a considerable amount off the annual premium and helps you manage your own insurance.

If you have a loss of a few hundred – for example, food in a freezer – consider this: The total loss for all items may appear to be $600. You have a $500 deductible and file the claim. Your insurance company will pay $100 for a covered loss. Now, you may have lost a claims-free discount of up to 20 percent for up to three years. And be honest, was everything in the freezer good?

You may consider replacing fresh items for half the cost – no claim filed, no loss of discount. And the company would probably recover the $100 payout if they raise your insurance for three years. You shop for fair prices on everything from furniture to cars, why not insurance? There are a lot of great companies eager for your business, and in many cases you can get better coverage for less money.

A few things to consider if you decide to review your coverage include finding a good agent. Meet with more than one to be sure you feel right about your decision. Is that person accessible – will he or she take your call? Consider looking when it’s not time to renew. Often people are pressured and then feel they don’t have enough time, and they just don’t look at it.

A renewal period on your policy simply means the company won’t raise your rates during that time period. It doesn’t mean you have to keep the policy until the end of the term. Any time is a great time for a review, so why not do it when you’re not feeling pressured?

The key to keeping insurance costs down should include the following:

1. Work with a good agent. They’ll assist you in making sure you have enough coverage to protect your assets.

2. Ask your agent to help you track any tickets or accidents on your auto insurance or claims on your homeowner’s insurance so you have lower cost options.

3. Think about the outcome before filing a claim. Remember that claims-free discounts are huge and filing small unnecessary claims will probably impact your cost of insurance. Discuss with your agent the impact of filing the claim and how it will affect your premium.

4. Shop around to be sure you’re getting the best deal. If your insurance agent is your brother-in-law, you are probably obligated to stay put. If not, don’t be afraid to explore other options – it’s your money.

5. Ask questions. You should have a basic understanding of the coverage you have, and an annual review provides an opportunity to meet with your agent to discuss any necessary changes.

Deb Williams is owner of Deb Williams Insurance in Nampa. For more information, visit www.debwilliamsinsurance.com.

About Deb Williams