Surprising Ways to Save Money With Insurance

Surprising Ways to Save Money With InsuranceABC News Photo Illustration
There are things you probably didn't know about your insurance coverage that can help you save money.

In this rocky economy, everyone wants to make the most of their money, and there are things you probably didn't know about your insurance that could help you cash in.

These savings are covered by the types of insurance people most typically carry, such as homeowner's insurance and auto insurance -- nothing exotic.

Homeowner's Insurance Away From Home

Many people don't realize that your homeowner's insurance often covers your possessions, even if they aren't at your home. For example, if your luggage is stolen while on a trip, many policies cover about $500 of losses. If your child is a full-time college student and lives in a dorm -- not an off-campus apartment -- your homeowner's policy probably covers their personal possessions as well. And if you're out shopping and stash your purchases in your car, your car insurance doesn't cover them, but your homeowner's policy does. You'll need receipts as proof, so keep those with you when you go back in the mall for more shopping.

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Hidden Insurance Benefits Save Money

A Lawyer to Defend You

Homeowner's insurance and car insurance both pay to defend you if somebody sues you for something that's covered by the policy. Maybe a delivery guy trips on your front steps, or the other driver in a fender bender suddenly claims back pain. Be sure to check with your insurance company about coverage, because a legal defense is probably part of your policy.

Spoiled Food Because of an Outage

Many companies include coverage for spoiled food in your homeowner's policy, and others sell it as an additional benefit. Regardless, the power outage must have been caused by a covered "peril," like a windstorm that knocked power lines down or lightning that zapped your electricity or a fire that cut off power to your neighborhood.

People Who Borrow Your Car

You may not want to admit it because then you'll have to lend people your car, but as long as you give permission, people who borrow your car are covered by your auto insurance. You might assume that the driver's own car insurance policy would kick in, but the coverage is tied to the car. So the auto insurance for that car applies. You'll just have to pay your deductible – or get your friend to pay it.

Your Insurance Could Save You Money

Your Pet's Auto Injuries

And what if the friend who borrows your car takes your dog with them, and Fido gets hurt in an accident? Since most pets don't wear seatbelts, this is a very real concern and yes, your insurance may cover your pet's vet bills. It's not true of every policy in every state, but many auto policies will cover pet injuries up to a certain amount like $500 or $600.

Will Your Insurance Premiums Go Up If You Make a Claim?

In the current economic climate, nobody should make petty or repeated claims because many insurance companies will cancel you for that. But if you've suffered a major loss or you've never made a claim before, that's what insurance is for. Maybe you don't make a claim if a $300 laptop gets stolen from your kid's dorm room, but if it's a $3,000 laptop, then you do. Weigh the decision carefully.

Even More Surprise Savings!

In addition to making the most of your insurance by tapping into coverage you didn't know about, you may be able to cash in on little-known discounts you didn't know about. Here are several suggestions provided by Trusted Choice and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

Live in a gated community? Some homeowners are entitled to gated community discounts.

What's your house wearing? Some insurers give hail resistant roof discounts for Class 4 roofs and credits can be sizeable in some territories.

"Everything old is new again": Some companies are coming out with new rating models that are oriented toward offering lower rates to new customers. Sometimes, a customer can even save money by applying for a new policy with the same company.

"For better or for worse" may also apply to your credit score: For married couples, sometimes one person will have a better credit score than the other. Since some companies will use the score of the first person named on the application, putting the spouse with the best credit score on first can result in a lower rate.

Got new wires? Depending on the age of newer electrical wiring in your home, you may qualify for an age of wiring discount.

Has it really been 10 years? If you have not filed any home insurance claims in the last 10 years, ask about a discount. "Claims-free" homeowners can often save up to 20 percent.

Is your teen a scout? Some insurers give credits to young drivers who are involved in organizations such as Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

What's your alma mater? At least one insurer gives a 5 percent credit if a driver is a graduate of a university on the company's approved list.

Do you have a company car? Many carriers will give a multi-car discount to consumers who have a company car even if they only own one personal vehicle.

Have you been widowed? Some insurers give "married" discounts to widows and widowers.

Are you shopping for new wheels? Before you buy a car, make a short list of the ones you're considering and ask your agent to estimate the difference in insurance premiums. The difference could save you thousands of dollars.

Are you a green commuter? Consider car pooling to reduce your commute frequency and ask your agent if that will impact your auto premium. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you may also be fattening your wallet.

How young are you? In some states, if you're 55 or older, and you're the principal driver of your insured car, you could save on your premiums by taking an approved defensive driving class.

Got a tractor? If you're a full-time farmer or rancher, and you're insuring a farm or ranch vehicle used exclusively for work on your property, a farm vehicle bonus could help keep your costs down.