One Cheap Chick: Shop, compare for insurance

By LESLEY MITCHELL

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: August 18, 2012 09:38PM
Updated: November 30, 2012 11:32PM
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Armando Arorizo | Bloomberg News When looking at insurance, make sure you have enough coverage to pay for the construction of a new home in the event of a disaster.

If you’re like most people, you probably purchased homeowner’s or auto insurance coverage years ago.

And then forgot about it.

But you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year, by dusting off those policies and spending a few hours making some calls to get updated price comparisons.

Yes, this can be time consuming, and it won’t be most folks idea of fun. But it’s a simple way to save big bucks on what your family pays to insure its cars and home.

Need proof? One source is the comparison tables at the Utah Department of Insurance’s website (go to Insurance.utah.gov, click on “Auto/Home” and again on “Comparison Tables”).

The agency compared homeowner’s insurance rates for a 10-year-old brick home valued at $225,000 with a deductible of $500. Premiums ranged from a low of $287 to as much as $1,291.

Both the auto and homeowner’s insurance comparison tables on the site contain a list of the biggest insurance companies operating in the state; start there to find three to four companies to compare rates.

When shopping around, make sure to have a copy of your current policy or policies handy and compare costs for identical or comparable coverage.

Shopping around is one good way to save money. Some others:

Raise your deductible • The higher your deductible, the lower the cost of coverage. But raise your deductible only if you can afford to pay it in the event you need to file a claim.

Ask for lower premiums • Seek a different rate from your insurer by sharing with them any lower quotes from other companies for the same coverage. Ask them to run your information through their computer again. You could get a lower rate, especially if your credit has improved or more time has passed since an accident or speeding ticket.

Avoid lots of little claims • Make too many minor claims on your insurance policies, and over time it could come back to haunt you in the form of higher premiums. I’ve known of several people over the years who had their homeowner’s insurance carrier elect not to renew their policy over this issue.

Inquire about discounts • Insurance companies often offer them if you pay your premium in one lump sum instead of monthly. You also may be able to get a break for having a security system or fire sprinklers in your house. In terms of auto insurance, you may qualify for a discount if you are a safe driver, a student with good grades, have two or more vehicles on the policy or pay your bill online.

Consider dropping coverage you don’t need • If you drive an older vehicle of little value, ask your agent if declining collision coverage makes sense. However, you’ll want to keep that coverage on at least one vehicle if you rent cars on vacations and use your insurance to cover the rental car.

Don’t be too cheap • Many people don’t carry enough liability coverage on their vehicles. Ask what’s offered and how much each level of coverage costs. When it comes to homes, make sure you have enough coverage to pay for the construction of a new home.

Know what’s not included • Homeowner’s insurance policies don’t offer flood or earthquake coverage. If you’re worried about the prospect of either of those disasters, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage.

Lesley Mitchell writes One Cheap Chick in daily blog form at blogs.sltrib.com/cheap.

lesley@sltrib.com Twitter: @cheapchick Facebook: Facebook.com/OneCheapChick