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Lesley Mitchell
Lesley Mitchell has been a business reporter at The Tribune since 1997, covering real estate, the retail industry, personal finance and economic development. A graduate of Utah State University's MBA program, Lesley, and her family, are dedicated to finding creative ways to save money, avoid debt and still have fun.

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Shop around for auto insurance

Clipping coupons and eating out less can save you a lot of money. But watching what you spend in areas other than food can pay big dividends, too. One of those areas is auto insurance. At least once a year, you may want to take out your auto insurance policy and make sure you're not overpaying for coverage. Here are a few money-saving tips:

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Shop around » Pick a handful of reputable insurance carriers and ask each for a quote on the exact same coverage. Premiums can vary widely among companies. You could save hundreds — even thousands — of dollars a year with another insurance company depending on how many drivers and vehicles are in your household.

Ask for a better deal » If your credit or other underwriting factors have improved since the last time you were issued a policy, you may qualify for lower rates with your existing carrier. Because many insurance companies use credit information to determine rates for individual customers, generally, the better your credit, the lower your premium. Carriers base this on research that suggests people with better credit histories make fewer claims.

Ask about discounts » Your insurance company may provide a discount to households that pay bills in full instead of in monthly payments. There also may be breaks for those with two or more vehicles, or for student drivers who get good grades. You also could score a discount for driving a vehicle that has air bags, other safety equipment or anti-theft devices. Discounts often are available to customers who have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance and auto insurance with the same company. You also could get a discount for paying your bill online or electing to get your bills delivered electronically.

Consider raising your deductible » Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium. The downside of a high deductible, of course, is that in the event of an accident you’ll have to come up with more money out of pocket. If you do raise your deductible, consider putting the amount you save aside so you can afford to pay the higher deductible in the event of a claim.

Avoid making a lot of (small) claims » Over time, as more claims are made on any type of insurance policy they are likely to drive up insurance rates. In some cases, an insurance company may decide not to renew coverage for a policyholder who makes a lot of claims.

Drop coverage you don’t need » If you drive an older car and have a high deductible, you may want to think about whether paying for collision coverage makes sense. Compare how much you pay each year for such coverage with how much you would get to repair any damage to your vehicle — sans deductible —in the event of an accident.

Re-examine your coverage. Many people carry too little liability coverage. Oftentimes, the cost to raise your liability coverage to a higher level doesn't cost as much as you may think.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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