Homeowners insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, travel insurance, life insurance, and more. It’s easy to feel like a big portion of your monthly household income goes towards protecting yourself from calamities that might never happen. Though car insurance rates can vary wildly by state, the national average is around $1,500 per year. And according to ABC News, the avergae family health insurance plan costs $4,600 out of pocket. The system may appear ridiculously flawed and the prices may seem insurmountable, but you’re not totally helpless. If you aren’t being proactive in making sure you pay the least amount for insurance that you have to, it’s time to start thinking about changes. Here are ten simple solutions to lowering your insurance bills and making sure paying for a rainy day doesn’t result in financial storms you can’t weather.
1. Consolidate Your Policies
These days, many major insurance companies offer auto insurance, home insurance, life insurance, and many different types of specialty insurances. It’s a proven fact that when you bundle your policies with one provider, they will charge you less money. This is especially smart if you need motorcycle insurance, property insurance, or anything else less common. You still need to compare quotes, but the advantages of simply paying one bill instead of four or five can’t be ignored.
2. Shop Around
It might sound simple, but shopping around for insurance quotes on sites like http://www.kanetix.com at least once a year can give you access to lower prices you didn’t know were possible. Car insurance quotes have the most variance from one company to another, plus your driving stats are always changing. If you move, take someone off your policy, or improve your credit score, the amount you should be paying may be very different from a year ago.
3. Raise Your Deductibles
Unfortunately, health care costs are so outrageous that high-deductible plans are considered the new normal. NPR claims over a third of families have raised their deductible, with some reaching $5,000 or more. You an also raise deductibles on auto and home insurance. You’re taking a big gamble because a serious accident or illness may potentially be devastating, but sometimes that sky-high bill makes it unavoidable.
4. Improve Your Credit
In almost every state, your personal credit score is used to determine your rate for most insurances, especially auto and homeowners. If you want to get your premiums lowered, you may need to take steps to consolidate credit card debt and pay companies you owe. Though that can take a while, one immediate step you can take is to look at your credit report for information you think is inaccurate. If you have documents to support your claim, they are required to remove it.
5. Secure Your Home
The best way to save on homeowners insurance is to make your home safer from accidents and burglaries. Sometimes you have to invest money to save money – storm shutters, new roofs and doors, and a solid security system will make you much less of a risk to your provider. Some companies will cut your premium 20 percent for a good fire alarm alone. Just make sure you talk to them about how much they are willing to discount you before you make any big decisions.
6. Stop Smoking
Trying to save on health insurance premiums while still a slave to nicotine is literally impossible. Smokers are a nightmare for health insurance companies because they’re way more likely to contract a variety of different cancers on top of respiratory illnesses and other serious health problems. Even under the Affordable Care Act, being a smoker is the one pre-existing condition healthcare providers can still charge more money for. If you’ve quit for at least a year, you should be entitled to much lower rates.
7. Go Private
This isn’t an option for everyone, but if you’re relatively healthy and young, your employer-sponsored health insurance plan can be way more than you need to be paying. Employer insurance is usually a good deal for middle-aged workers and those handicapped by obesity, smoking, or serious illness. But with the Affordable Care Act, you should have access to more options than ever before and you may be doing yourself a favor by looking elsewhere.
8. Do a Needs Analysis
When you’re buying life insurance, it’s important you make sure your policy fits only the financial needs of your family. While it’s tempting to guarantee your children a huge financial settlement, it can make your premium impossible to keep up with. There are plenty of life insurance calculators available online that will help you figure out what you’re really worth so you know you’re paying a realistic amount for your policy. Whenever you have a major life change such as a new baby, you can reevaluate.
9. Drive Less
Lowering your vehicle usage, even by one day a week, can significantly impact your car insurance. You can even opt for pay-as-you-go policies, where you are only charged a rate for the miles you actually drive. Of course, cutting down on time behind the wheel can be good for your health, too. Less stress, less pollution, and less risk of accidents equal less risk of hospital claims. It’s cost-effective to trade in the wheels for some exercise.
10. Choose Short-term Disability
If you’re purchasing disability insurance in case of an injury or health condition that leaves you unable to work, don’t go for the long-term policy. Most disability insurance claims are for conditions that last 24 months to four years, so a five-year policy will probably ne more than enough. It’s much less likely that a disability will keep you from working until retirement age, and in the meantime, you could be paying 30 percent more for your premium.
No matter what kind of insurance bill has you underwater, there is something to be done to reduce that number. Talk to your insurance agent or do some research online, and there’s a definite chance you will make your monthly budget stretch a little further without leaving you or your family unprotected.
Lisa Smith is a finance writer with a knack for budgeting. Follow her on Twitter @LisaSmithTweets to find more money saving tips.