4 Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs

Insurance FoldersThere are a slew of ways to reduce your auto insurance costs besides being a good driver—all you have to do is ask.

“Some discounts are to encourage customers to buy with the company and some discounts are because the risk to the insurance company is reduced,” says David Thompson of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. However, he says if you want the discount, you have to ask for it.

Safety Equipment Discounts

These days most new cars come standard with safety features that not only protect the drivers in an accident, but can save on auto insurance.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, drivers can get discounts if their cars are equipped with anti-theft devices, anti-lock brakes and/or passive restraint systems like airbags.

Other safety features that can yield savings include traction control and daytime running lights. And the savings add up: At AllState, airbags and motorized seatbelts can slash up to 30% off a bill, anti-lock brakes can get a 10% discount and an anti-theft device can save up to 10%.

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Should College Athletes Buy Disability Insurance?

Trainers check on Louisville guard Kevin Ware (5) after Ware injured his lower right leg during the first half of the Midwest Regional final against Duke in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Indianapolis. Ware left the court on a stretcher. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)Kevin Ware’s grisly leg fracture during Louisville’s run to the title was excruciating to watch for anyone—but especially so for NCAA athletes, who were reminded of how quickly and violently hopes of an eventual professional career can be put in jeopardy.

Mishaps like Ware’s help explain why athletic-disability insurance policies, once reserved for elite professionals and their clubs to protect the fragile appendages of valuable superstars for exorbitant amounts of money, are now fairly common among student-athletes. In just the last couple months, Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel and South Carolina defensive back Jadeveon Clowney both garnered headlines for their pursuit of insurance policies against career-ending injuries.

Kentucky basketball big man Nerlens Noel, who tore his ACL in mid-February, reportedly paid between $40,000 and $60,000 for a $10 million policy through a private underwriter. Before Noel, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck had a maximum policy of $5 million through a program known as Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance (ESDI) that the NCAA provides student-athletes it predicts will likely be high draft picks.

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Covered by homeowners insurance? Don’t be so sure

dont-be-so-sure-insurance You’ve no doubt noticed that premiums have gotten pretty pricey. Rates have climbed 69% over the past decade to an average of $1,000 a year.

What you may not realize is that you could be facing another vast expense. Insurers have also been quietly hiking deductibles, scaling back basic coverage, and adding new restrictions.

Coverage now varies widely among carriers, but that’s not always clear when you’re shopping around, says Daniel Schwarcz, a University of Minnesota professor who has studied hundreds of policies.

“Consumers shop almost entirely on price and reputation,” notes Schwarcz, and exclusion clauses are often written in legalese and buried in a policy that runs dozens of pages. Moreover, comparison shopping is difficult, since consumers rarely get a copy of the policy before they buy.

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Employer-provided health insurance dips 15% in Michigan

Michigan workers are losing their health-care coverage at a greater rate than any other state.

In 2000, about 78 percent of Michigan workers got insurance through their employer.

By 2011, that fell to about 63 percent.

Lynn Blewett is a University of Minnesota professor who took part in the national study funded by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We wanted to get a baseline of employer-sponsored coverage before the Affordable Care Act fully kicks in in 2014,” Blewett says.

She says those who could afford it least were the most affected by the loss of health coverage.

“These are small employers, low-wage firms, so it’s workers who have minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage, those are the ones that were hit the hardest,” Blewett says.

Blewett says annual health-insurance premiums nearly doubled over the past decade causing many employers to drop the benefits.

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