Insurance RatesThese days, you may feel as if you’re paying more to insure your house and car than it cost to buy them. Premiums are expected to jump by the end of 2013, and some people could face double-digit hikes. How to keep your costs down? First, when a policy comes up for renewal, don’t just re-sign; shop for a better deal. Second, pay bills annually if you can; it’s often cheaper than paying monthly or quarterly. There are also specific strategies for each of your policies:

Sweet Savings for Home Owners

Companies blame the big rate increases on a cycle of severe storms and fires, rising home-repair costs, and, in some states/counties, a growing number of claims for mold. What they don’t say: They’ve also lost money on their investments, so they need to get more revenue from, guess who? The policy holders.

  • INCREASE YOUR DEDUCTIBLE
    If you raise it from £250 to £500, you’ll cut your premiums by up to 15 percent. Go from £500 to £1,000 and you’ll save 25 percent.
  • HOLD DOWN CLAIMS
    Several small claims might lead the company to hike your rates, if not refuse to renew your policy. Don’t even call the company unless you intend to file for reimbursement; the very act of telephoning may create a home-damage file, whether you make a claim or not.
  • SNOOP BEFORE YOU BUY
    If you’re about to make an offer on a house, ask to see the report, which reflects every claim filed over the past five years. This report shows whether the house has had any serious problems. If it has and the repairs weren’t satisfactory, you may have trouble getting insurance at a reasonable rate.

Drive down your auto rates

Rising medical, repair, and liability costs are behind the big hike in premiums. As with homeowners’ insurance, the surest way to cut costs is to raise the deductible. Hold back on making small claims. Also, tell your insurer about any “rate-improving” changes in your life: Your teenage son has left home. You’ve stopped driving to work. You’ve divorced your spouse–the one with all the speeding tickets.

What else helps with auto insurance?

  • COMPARISON SHOP!
    The most expensive policy in your area could cost as much as £1,000 more than the least expensive one. Even if you’re getting a discount for being a longtime customer, you still might do better with a new company. There are also price cuts for having your auto and homeowners’ coverage at the same firm, so shop them as a package.
  • TAKE A DEFENSIVE DRIVING COURSE
    That earned one of our readers a £200 discount.
  • PAY YOUR BILLS–ALL OF THEM–ON TIME
    People with good credit reports get better rates.
  • DROP COLLISION INSURANCE IF YOUR CAR IS WORTH LESS THAN £2,000
    You can check its value online.