How to cut your insurance premium in half

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The new year is a time millions of Americans get a new car, truck or SUV--but don't forget about the possibility of getting new insurance or changing your policy to better reflect your current needs.

Prices can vary widely and there are several ways to keep costs way down.  We have a variety of ways to save on car and home insurance that are often unused. The first idea literally "goes over your head!"

"Whether it is hail-related, claim-related, or just a maintenance-related thing, if you get a brand new roof, make sure you tell your insurance agent.  The newer your roof, the bigger the discount.  That can be up to 10% because a new roof helps to protect the rest of your home," said Ashe Abebe, a Wenclewicz insurance agent.

We'll have more home insurance savings in a minute, but now let's talk about car insurance. You may have heard about those little telemetry devices that plug into your car. They're provided by the insurance company and track how you drive; there are also apps that do the same thing. Good drivers can get up to 20% off their rates. Even if you're not a great driver, most companies will give you the initial 5% discount for installing the device.

"In some cases, other companies may give you a little bit of a surcharge depending on your driving characteristics. We've seen with the majority of our clientele getting a decent discount on top of that initial enrollment discount just for participating in the program," said Abebe.

The biggest insurance savings can be for bundling your car and home insurance. That's going to be anywhere from a 20% to 40% discount just for having those two bundled with the same company. If you add life insurance to the bundle, you can save another 5%.  Surveys show 50% of Americans don't realize good credit helps to lower premiums, so get that credit score up!

Don't forget to shop around for insurance because a third of Americans never do! However,  shopping around doesn't mean bargaining. Another insurance expert says, unlike your cable or phone bill, you can't lower the price of insurance, but you can change the coverage you have.

"For example, there was a recent survey that found almost 40% of people think they can negotiate their car insurance rates.  While it's a good idea to speak with your insurance company about discounts that might be available to you, you can't negotiate your rates," said Alyssa Connelly, a car insurance rates expert.

If you do compare companies, make sure you're looking at the same coverage so it's an apples-to-apples comparison.

How about these apples for extra insurance discounts?  They include some things many homeowners don't pass on to to their insurance companies.  You can get discounts for having a home alarm system.  The monitored versions will get you a bigger discount, but unmonitored ones you install yourself can still net savings of 5% to 7%. Setting your insurance bill for automated payments will often save you some money, too.

Having a water leak detection system for your house can save money on insurance rates because the system could prevent thousands of dollars in damage if it catches a leak early. That includes sump pump failures and flooding in your basement.

When the average American spends more than $2,000 a year on car and home insurance, with all those discounts, you can cut that in half.

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