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Tips to reduce your insurance premiums

June 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
As we all look for new ways to save, many people are poring over their insurance policies, hoping to find some funds. There are ways to save, but you have to be sure you don't leave yourself vulnerable in case emergency strikes.Jane Graver makes a living selling green tea. But she also wants to save some green, so she's thinking about lowering her homeowner's insurance coverage, especially since the value of her home has dropped.

"My house lost over $200,000 in value over the last three years," said Graver.

But insurance experts say it would be a big mistake for her to drop the amount of coverage on her house just because it's not worth as much right now. Apparently, she's not the only one considering it.

"Our agents are having their phones ring off the hooks these days," said Gary Heiligman, vice president, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA).

Why is it a mistake?

"They confuse market value with the cost to rebuild your home. It's two different things," said Heiligman.

But there are ways you can save without cutting that appraisal number. In fact, 24 percent of households -- 39 million homeowners -- have already made easy insurance adjustments.

First, you can lower your premium by increasing your deductible. That way you only pay more if you actually file a claim.

Second, look at the riders you have for jewelry, furs or other collectibles.

"If you no longer own those items, you want to make sure your agent knows that so they can remove the premiums you were paying to cover those items specifically," said Heiligman.

If you're driving your car less because you're unemployed, that should lower your annual mileage and save you money on your auto policy. And if you've installed safety devices in your home or car, ask your insurers to give you credit for them.

"Make sure they're maximizing all the discounts they're qualifying for," said Heiligman.

If you're paying for credit insurance, IIABA advises you to skip it.

"We highly advocate not to have that. Credit insurance isn't protecting you as a consumer, it's protecting the people you owe money to," said Heiligman.

One last tip: Review every policy you have and ask your agent to shop your rates.

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