There are many ways to save money besides using coupons. I understand that for some, couponing can be overwhelming or feel like a waste of time. Also, depending on what season of life you are in it may not be feasible. I have been looking at ways to cut overall unnecessary monthly spending. At this point reducing our cable bill really isn’t an option because my husband basically only watches sports. What next? As I took inventory of our monthly expenses I noticed that our car and home insurance took a large part of our monthly budget. It had been a long time since we had shopped around, so I was ready for the challenge. As a mortgage broker, my husband is constantly helping his customers shop around for the best insurance rates. He talked to several of his friends in the insurance business to help me develop a list of questions to ask when shopping around for the best rates. Keep in mind when shopping for home and auto insurance cheaper isn’t always better. Most importantly, you want to be adequately covered in the event of an accident. I have included several questions and key areas of consideration to keep in mind when shopping around.
- Do you offer a discounted “bundled” insurance or multi policy discount? Most insurance companies will offer a discount when you bundle both your auto and home insurance together.
- Annual or Monthly rates – Depending on what you prefer make sure you are comparing apples to apples when shopping around.
- Can you quote several different deductible options? Oftentimes the higher the deductible the lower the amount of monthly premium. Depending on your current financial situation most people save money by opting for a higher deductible.
- Do you offer a discount if I have remained claim free for an extended amount of time?
- Do you offer discounts for seniors (if applicable)?
- Do you offer a 24 hour claims service?
- Information to have handy – current policy, drivers license, and vehicle registration number.
- Liability Limits – Find out what your state minimum liability limit is and consider if it would be enough to cover an accident. Your insurance company isn’t liable to provide coverage outside of your liability limits. Therefore, if you are in an accident that you are at fault you could be sued for the remaining amount.
- Consider your driving habits – Do you have a history of car accidents, or a long commute? My husband used to be on the road all day driving from appointment to appointment, now he works at his office which is less than a mile from home. When he reduced his commute our payment decreased.
- Does your coverage include other people driving my car?
- Does your coverage include uninsured motorist and underinsured?
- How is personal property value calculated in relation to my policy?
- Does the policy coverage include comprehensive damage (damage as a result of a non car crash).
- Determine if it’s important to you if in the event of an accident that your insurance coverage uses original manufacturer parts. Depending on the model and age of your car, this could be an issue. Many policies cover aftermarket parts to keep costs down. My car is 11 years old so personally this is not an issue for us, however when our car was brand new we felt otherwise.
- Does coverage include actual cash value or replacement cost?
- Please explain the coverage on wind and hail. (After 2012 tornadoes in Tennessee some insurance companies implemented coverage limitations on wind and hail. Even if you don’t live in Tennessee make sure to have the agent clarify coverage.)
- Some insurance companies offer discounts for dead bolts, smoke/fire alarms, and home security systems, don’t forget to ask.
- Renovations – if you have recently completed renovations on your home that increase it’s worth make sure that you are covered for improvements.
- What level of ALE (additional living expenses) does the policy you are quoting cover? In the event that you cannot live in your home due to an insured event or disaster it’s important to understand what and how much your policy covers in regards to ALE.
- Does this policy cover flood/hurricane/tornado damage?
- Does the policy cover home and land? Even after a disaster or accident the land your home is on will be there and doesn’t necessarily need to be covered.
- Are my personal possessions covered (jewelry, electronics, lawn equipment, etc)?
If you are in the market to purchase a new home or refinance your primary residence or investment property and live in TN or Georgia, make sure to give my husband, Gary Trenum, a call. He works for a local mortgage company and understands the importance of saving you money. He can be reached at 423-284-4082 or www.garytrenum.com.