Saving Money on Insurance Costs
I’m currently looking into ways to lower my current car insurance costs without compromising coverage.
Has it been a while since you shopped around for car insurance? There is a very good chance that you are paying too much for your insurance and could get a better rate as well.
If you believe you are overpaying for your current insurance, this is a reminder that there are savings (of several hundred dollars a year) to be had out there. I’ve found that the more insurance companies you compare, the more savings and better coverage you are able to find.
Every little bit helps!
The following are some tips that will be covered in this post:
- Ask about discounts
- Compare rates / shop around for different quotes
- Raise your deductible
- Reduce coverage
Lowering Insurance Costs – Tip #1 – Ask About Discounts
Ask About Discounts
“It cant hurt to ask.”
There are plenty of auto insurance discounts out there to help you lower your car insurance rates.
But what type of discounts may be available? I’ve compiled a list below.
- Car Safety Features
- Examples include Antilock brakes and Antitheft devices
- Multi Car
- If you insure more than one car on the same policy
- Multi Policy
- If you buy multiple policies from the same insurer (home and car insurance, for example)
- Accident Free/Prevention
- Some insurers offer discounts for taking Defensive Driving courses
- Good Student Discounts
- Applies to high school and college students getting good grades
- Some insurers offer discounts for keeping your annual mileage low (Usually 15,000 or less miles/year)
- Senior citizens
- Eligible for drivers usually over the age of 55
- Group / Associations
- Some insurers partner with various associations to give discounts to members
- Safe / Good Driver
- For drivers with no traffic violations or accident claims. Insurers usually look at the last three years of your driving record to make a determination.
- Plug a monitoring device in your car track driving habits (i.e. Progressive’s Snapshot)
- Defensive Driving courses
- Lower portions of your auto insurance by up to 10% for 3 years
- Paid in Full
- Discount for paying entire premium at once
- Home renovation
- New electrical and plumbing systems, for example
- New roof
- New home
- If home was built in the past 15 years
- Non smokers
- Discounts for having no smokers living in the home
- Energy-efficient features
- Home safety features
Lowering Insurance Costs – Tip #2 – Bundle
If you currently have your auto, home, or life insurance from different insurers, you are probably missing out on a discount.
Put simply, if you bundle policies from a single company, they’re very likely to offer you a multi-policy discount of an average of about 8%.
Having the same insurance provider for your homeowners and auto insurance could save you a few hundred dollars a year. That number varies depending on where you live, though, according to a study from insuranceQuotes.
This is one of the smartest and easiest ways to save money (and time!) on insurance.
Lowering Insurance Costs – Tip #3 – Compare Rates
Compare Rates / Shop Around
This step will save you some money, but may be the most time consuming.
It is recommended that you get at least three price quotes from different companies. These can typically be obtained online (websites like Progressive.com, InsuranceQuotes.com, and CoverHound.com) if you aren’t a phone person. Some upfront information will be needed in order for the rates to be determined.
If you’re already insured, assess how much current coverage you have so you can compare against new policies. Know your vehicles safety features, how many miles you drive each year, claims history, etc.
If you’re unhappy with your current insurer, it is wise to tell them that you’re considering a switch. They may offer you a discounted rate in order to keep you as a customer. If you do decide to switch, be sure not to cancel until you get another policy.
This is something you should be doing every few years even if you’re happy with your current provider, in order to make sure you’re getting a competitive rate. You get little benefit from sticking with the same insurer year in and year out. Not browsing for other policies could cost you more in the long run, even if you believe you are paying less than you were before.
In New York, Progressive tends to be cheaper for singles and couples, while Geico or Travelers tends to cheaper for families with teens
Consider comparison shopping on TheZebra.com, a site that offers estimates from a large number of insurers
Consider also using an independent insurance agent to help you find you the best deals on the coverage that’s right for you
Have you received a warning letter in the mail that your “underground water service line could fail without warning” and are not sure what direction to go in?
The letter may warn that the recipient is “responsible for the full cost of maintaining and repairing your exterior water line”. In bold letters on the top of the letter alarmingly reads “Important Information Regarding Your Water Service Line”. Enclosed is a payment form (asking for $4.49/month or $53.88/year) and a postage-paid return envelope to a random PO Box.
I recently received one of these letters, so I decided to explore further. Should we be alarmed?
What is a exterior water service line?
It is a line buried underground your property that brings fresh tap water into your home.
What causes a water line to burst / need repairs?
Simply the age of the service line or changing soil conditions are usually the main culprits. A tree root may also get tangled up in the line, causing damages.
Whose responsibility is it to fix?
Many are unaware, but exterior water service line repair or replacement is the responsibility of the homeowner.
What is covered (and not) in the policy?
Coverage includes the following:
- No bills for covered repairs to locate, fix, and replace service line
- Priority Service calls – 24 hour, 365 day a year emergency hot-line
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- One year covered repair guarantee
What isn’t covered:
- Accident or negligence caused by you or others
- A line that branches off the main line
- Pre-existing damage
- Relocation of water lines
- Lines improperly installed by someone else
So is this a scam?
Although there are red flags, it doesn’t look to be a scam (whether it’s worth purchasing is another story). The company who handles the coverage, HomeServe, appears to be a legit company with millions of customers throughout the US. It currently has an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau.
HomeServe states the following:
“These mailers are not intended to alarm homeowners, but to inform them of services that have been an enormous help for tens of thousands of homeowners”
You will see many complaints about HomeServe as well, although many of these are in regards to the actual letter (which can be confused for a bill).
Is this coverage needed?
It can be a tough call whether or not to purchase the coverage.
My research suggests that water lines don’t go all that often (it is rare for damage to occur to them). HomeServe’s own data has suggested that “exterior water pipe failure occurs in less than 1 percent of American households every year”.
However, on the other hand, it might give you peace of mind in the event something does happen.
Keep in mind, Investopedia lists this coverage in their “15 Insurance Policies You Don’t Need” article:
7. Water Line Coverage
Water companies have made an aggressive push to sell policies that cover the repair of the water line that runs from the street to your house. The odds are in your favor that you will never use this coverage, particularly if you live in a newer home. If you live an average suburban neighborhood and you do need to repair the water line, the distance to the street is short, the likelihood of a problem is low and repair costs are a few thousand dollars or less. The same goes for policies offered by other utility companies.
The Bottom Line
Read the fine print!
Also, it is best to consult with your insurance agent before making any decisions (you may even be covered already).
The Better Business Bureau recommends to take the following into consideration:
- The age of your house
- Your neighbors past experience with their water and/or sewer service lines
The wisest thing may be to start an emergency savings fund or self-insure (set aside a certain amount of money). Deposit the money you would otherwise send to HomeServe or an insurance company into a savings account.
Overall, just remember: the coverage is optional, no matter how the letter reads.
There’s no doubt that cell phone service can be painfully expensive.
The average cell phone bill today, according to a 2014 J.D. Power report, is $73. Verizon customers paid an average of $148 in 2014 and AT&T customers an average of $141. This $141 is about what I’m currently paying AT&T each month.
Fortunately, there are some other options for us in this boat. Here are a few tips I’ve found to use in lowering your cell phone bill…
Data and Wi-Fi
Know your data usage beforehand so you don’t buy more or less than you need.
Also, look for ways to cut down on your data use such as:
- Closing an app or website when finished using it
- Being selective as to which apps can send you push notifications
- Setting your phone to download app updates only when connected to a Wi-Fi network
- Compressing your data using an app like Onavo
Speaking of Wi-Fi, make sure you automatically connect to it at home and work as much as possible rather than using data. Using public Wi-Fi hot spots is also a good idea to prevent overusing data. Certain apps like Boingo help you automatically do so.
Review your current bill for unnecessary extra services (like the following) and have them removed:
- Unlimited data – See above for ways to cut back on data usage
- Alternatives to texting – Apps such as WhatsApp give you free, unlimited texting to anywhere in the world
- Alternatives to long distance – Using an alternative like Skype, for example, eliminates long-distance fees
- Insurance – Isn’t necessary for most people
Also reconsider GPS and other features that you may be paying for but not using.
Compare Plans / Renegotiate
Use the competition between cell phone providers to your advantage. Make sure to stay on top of all the offerings and promotions that each one offers.
When an existing contract expires, always renegotiate for a better deal. The prices of cell phone contracts tend to go down over time for the same service.
It costs companies more to lose customers than to negotiate so it’s worthwhile to do so. Threaten to take your business elsewhere. While it may not work, it can’t hurt to try.
Consider a Contract-Free or Prepaid Plan
Looking for a plan without contracts? How about a budget friendly plan?
There are a handful of providers that offer similar service as the major carriers, such as:
Each allow unlimited talk, text, and data plans as low as $13.79 a month.
These alternative options are where I will be focusing my attention for the remainder of the series.