Americans nationwide are being hit with rising insurance costs. So what can you do to keep yourself insured at a rate you can manage? Here are our top tips for keeping your premiums low. (Choosing the right balance can help you save on insurance as well, check out Selecting The Right Mix Of Insurance Benefits.)

TUTORIAL: Intro To Insurance

Shop Around
It pays to shop around. Due to the financial crisis, some insurance companies have had to raise prices to recoup losses incurred, but there are always some offering lower rates to entice new customers. Make this effort because the best deals change month by month, and a few hours comparing deals online can save you hundreds of dollars whether you are renewing or buying for the first time.

Get the Best Possible Quote – Home Insurance
We are taking it as a given that you are requesting multiple quotes, but how can you ensure you get the best deal possible?

Your premiums will be lower if you can minimize the risk to the insurer. Therefore, try to make your home more disaster-resistant and safer. Companies may give discounts if, for example, you add storm shutters or buy strong roofing materials. Contact your insurance company to ask them about possible discounts. (For more, read The Beginner's Guide To Homeowners' Insurance.)

Get the Best Possible Quote - Health Insurance
The most effective way to get a good price on your premium is by living and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, if you and your spouse/partner are both eligible for employee health benefits, you should check out each company's health insurance options to see which would cost you less. Employers differ considerably in the amount of premium contributions they offer, and you may be able to save money by switching to your spouse's family coverage.

Get the Best Possible Quote - Automobile Insurance
Did you know that some automobile insurance companies use your job role as part of their assessment for the cost of your insurance? Remember this when you are looking for quotes. Your job could have more than one description. For example, a "solicitor" is also a "lawyer." Testing different legitimate job descriptions when you apply for coverage could save you tens or even hundreds of dollars.

Don't be tempted to "pimp your ride." Research from Beatthatquote suggests that this can significantly increase the cost of your premium. Adding a rear spoiler increased premiums by 25%, darkened windows by 50%, bull bars and non-standard alloys by 30% and lowering the suspension boosted premiums by a staggering 171%!

Insurers will also bump up their prices if they think your car is vulnerable to theft, so park your car in a garage if possible or, failing that, on a driveway. Quotes will also be higher if your driving record shows tickets or accidents. So if you or someone in your family gets a ticket, go to traffic school to keep the ticket off your record whenever possible, as this can also increase your premiums. (For more insurance saving tips, see Top Tips For Cheaper, Better Car Insurance.)

Reduce Your Monthly Payments
Once you have found a good insurance deal, consider paying your premiums annually instead of monthly; this lowers administrative costs for your insurer and usually lowers your costs as well. In addition, some companies will give you a 5 to 10% reduction in costs if you allow them to deduct your insurance costs monthly through electronic funds transfers.

Think about increasing your deductible. Deductibles are the amount of money you must pay towards a loss before your insurance company starts to pay out. By having a higher deductible and taking care of the smaller costs yourself, you will save yourself money in the long run. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium costs.

This can be particularly true for health insurance. If you are in good health, it is worth considering that most insurance companies have health plan options that allow you to pay lower monthly premiums if you agree to pay more out-of-pocket expenses, such as a yearly deductible and co-insurance for services and prescription medications. If you are healthy and do not anticipate any (or a small amount of) medical spending in the coming year, choosing a plan with larger out-of-pocket expenses may make financial sense for you. (To learn more, about some insurances you do not need, check out 15 Insurance Policies You Don't Need.)

Ensure You're Insured
These tips can help you to save many hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. While insurance is required, overpaying for it is not. Pare down your insurance bills without putting yourself at unnecessary risk. If you only follow one piece of advice, it should be to shop around. The only way to find out if you are paying a fair price is to see what the competition charges, so every time your policy is up for renewal, take the time to do your research – it really will be worth your time! (For more on insurance, check out 5 Insurance Policies Everyone Should Have.)

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