Financial Spring Cleaning: 7 Money Moves to Make Now
1. Reassess Our Insurance
Upshot: $879 a year saved
My father-in-law has been an insurance agent for 40 years, so in Rob's family, industry lingo is the language of love. When we were dating I knew Rob was serious when he insisted I buy renter's insurance.
With an in-house insurance brain trust, I already knew we were doing a few things right: We bundle our policies with one provider for a lower overall cost; we keep deductibles high to keep premiums low; and we take advantage of discounts, which insurers offer to everyone from at-home moms, nonsmokers, and union members to homeowners who install alarm systems.
But Pete Moraga of the nonprofit Insurance Information Network of California advised me to check if our coverage matched our needs. I discovered we could drop everything but liability on our car policy because our two clunkers aren't worth replacing if they get into accidents. That lopped $579 off our premiums.
Next I checked to see if we could get the appraisal on our house lowered. The inspector who came out apparently saw that our no-frills fixer-upper wasn't as quaintly charming as the old appraisal suggested: His assessment resulted in a $300-a-year savings on our premiums. (Had the company refused to budge, we could have hired a certified home builder to assess the property and then we could have used his report to negotiate.) But Moraga cautioned me to stay on top of things: "Construction costs go up 3 to 5 percent a year. If you don't update your policy in 10 years, you could be 30 to 40 percent underinsured."
Bonus resource: For $7.95, accucoverage.com assesses your home's value using the same data insurers use.