Experts say home, car insurance doesn't have to be pricey

March 21, 2013 3:10:02 PM PDT
Home insurance can be costly, but there are some things you can do to save yourself big bucks. You can also make some changes to save on your car insurance as well.

You've heard this before; shop around for a better rate. And ask some specific questions to your current insurance company or a potential carrier, it could save you money.

It's the one constant we heard from homeowners. Their home insurance policy keeps going up.

"It went up a lot this year. Like $400," homeowner Javier Cantenia said.

"I've been changing a couple of times, different insurance companies and they keep going up and we haven't had an claims," homeowner Badi Nour said.

Even those who shopped around couldn't find a better rate.

"We looked and looked and looked, and nothing," homeowner Edmond Garcia said.

So experts say the way to get those home and auto insurance discounts is to ask the right questions.

University of Houston Bauer College of Business assistant professor John Lopez says you can find some discounts.

"It's a competitive market just like anything else," Lopez said.

First improve your home security.

"You have monitor alarms where you are contracting with a company to call police, you the fire department. So that is one way to save premiums on your homeowners insurance," Lopez said.

You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm or dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sprinkler system that calls police or fire department in an emergency.

Next, it pays you to be close to a hydrant and fire station but it's up to you to ask your insurance company if there is a discount.

"The closer you are to a fire hydrant, the closer you are to a fire station, the lower your premiums will be," Lopez said.

For a better rate, bring down your home owner's liability insurance.

"An insurance carrier if they have a half a million dollars insurance and liability and that's more than they need, you may want to bring that down to $300,000 or $100,000. So that would be a way to save on the premium," Lopez said.

Another money saving tip, increase your deductible.

"It's transferring more risk to you, because it's increasing your deductible, but it is lowering your premium," Lopez said.

When it comes to your automobile, it's easy to bring down your costs. Ask your carrier some questions: are their discounts for taking a defensive driving class, a good driving record, car alarm system or even a discount for being married.

And if you want to get a deal on all your insurance policies...

"If you bundle all of that in one package, you would get a better discount than going to different companies for all three," Lopez said.

The insurance companies' rationale is simple, the more safety measures you have in place, the less likely you will need them so having said that expect to pay more for insurance if you have a swimming pool, a trampoline or a dog deemed aggressive.

Establishing a solid credit history also can cut your insurance costs. Some insurers are using credit information to price homeowners insurance policies.

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