Insurance is kind of a lose-win, win-lose situation. You pay your premiums every term, and, generally, you don’t see a dime unless something terrible happens. You get sick, you crash your car, your house burns down and you “win”, in the form of an insurance payout. But if nothing bad ever happens, you get bupkis. If you want to come out ahead in this game, you need a strategy. Here are seven ways to win – really – when it comes to insurance:
1. Shop around
You would never take the first mortgage offer you received without reviewing deals from several other lenders, right? Likewise, you should get rate quotes from at least three different insurers before signing on to a policy.
2. Buy in bulk
You may be eligible for a discount if you buy multiple policies through the same insurer. So if you’re shopping for car insurance, for example, be sure to check what kind of deal your homeowner’s insurance provider is willing to give you.
3. Increase your deductible
Raising your deductible -- the amount you pay before your insurance policy kicks in – can lower your insurance costs significantly. According to the Insurance Information Institute, going from a $200 to a $1,000 car insurance deductible can save you 40 percent on your premium. Just make sure you have enough money set aside to pay the deductible in case you do you have to make a claim.
4. Review annually
We know – there’s a herd of people that require your attention “just once” a year. The IRS, your doctor, your in-laws. But it’s important to annually review your insurance coverage – life, auto, home, health and long-term disability – to make sure you have enough coverage. That’s especially true in years when you’ve had a major life change, such as having a child, that could trigger a major insurance adjustment.
5. Don’t do double coverage
You don’t want to be underinsured, but you don’t want to be overinsured, either. Before you buy rental car insurance, for example, check your auto and homeowner’s policies to find out what coverage you already have while in a rented vehicle.
6. Protect your credit score
Many insurers use your credit score to help determine your insurance premiums. Pay your bills on time, don’t accumulate too much debt and check your credit report once a year www.annualcreditreport.com - perhaps at the same time you’re reviewing your insurance coverage (see #4 above).
7. Ask for discounts
Insurers offer rate cuts for myriad reasons – if you’re a safe driver, a non-smoker, or in a preferred profession. Having a fire extinguisher or a security system could knock several bucks off your homeowner’s premium. Talk to your agent about whether you qualify for any discounts.