Your home and your car are probably your two most expensive assets, and insuring them isn't really an option. Auto insurance is mandatory, and few are wealthy enough to contemplate going without homeowner's insurance. The path of least resistance is to place both policies with one company, but that isn't necessarily your best option.
Get the Quotes
Take time to review your policies before they come up for renewal, and evaluate first whether you've got the right coverage. It's possible to have too much or too little coverage, and taking whatever your agent recommended isn't necessarily the best policy. Perhaps your home policy doesn't include storm damage, or your auto policy covers rental cars you never use or roadside assistance you already have. Once you've decided on the coverage you want, use Internet comparison services to gather quotes for your home and auto coverage separately, and together. Sometimes splitting them makes sense.
Review Them Carefully
Compare the quotes to your current policies. Pay attention to the policy language, and make sure the coverage is comparable to what you currently have. Remember, price isn't the only factor. It's prudent to deal with financially stable companies, and to check with your state's insurance department to assess each company's history of claims handling and complaints. After you've narrowed your options to the few most impressive quotes, it's time to compare the costs. Some companies are more competitive on auto insurance, others on home insurance. Most offer a discount for bundling, but the discount might not compensate for another company's lower rate.
Work the Discounts
If you're really set on doing this right, you can take it to a whole other level by working your preferred companies for additional discounts. Often, they're available just for the asking. If you've just installed an alarm system, ask for a discount. If the fire department's just a block away, ask for a discount. If your credit score's improved dramatically since your early 20s, ask for a discount. If your kid brother isn't using your car anymore, ask for a discount. If you'e never made a claim, ask for a discount.
Work Your Current Insurer
Once you've compared your coverage, narrowed down the policies you want, gotten the quotes and decided which combination of home and auto coverage provides you the best deal, there's still one more thing to do. Call your existing insurer, and give the company a chance to win you back. It's a lot cheaper for the agency to keep you than to attract a new customer. Let your agent know what alternatives you've got on the table from other insurers, and often she'll discount your existing coverage enough to make it worth staying.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.