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Check Out the Discounts 

  Don't complain about paying too much money for homeowner and auto insurance policies if you're not exploring all of the discounts that might be available to lower your rates. That's the core message of a new survey released by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, known in the industry as the "Big I." It asked home and auto owners if they believed they are taking full advantage of all the discounts they qualified for on their policies, and the responses jive with the longtime trend of consumers not reading the fine print. More than 34 percent of respondents, representing 53 million households, admitted they are probably not taking advantage of these discounts or didn't know they existed. Regarding auto coverage, more than 20 percent of those surveyed were on the same page. "In these economic times, every dollar counts — and some consumers may be able to nickel and dime their way to big savings," says Madelyn Flannagan, Big I vice president. About 26 percent of those surveyed estimated that they save 6 percent to 10 percent on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In reality, many consumers could be saving significantly more — as much as 30 percent, Flannagan says. Consult your agent for specifics, but there are industry-wide discounts to be had for living in a gated community, housing upgrades to withstand some storm damage, changing the first name on your policy to the spouse with the better credit score and having modern electrical wiring. As for car insurance, discounts apply to young drivers involved in scout groups, company vehicles, widows and graduates of defensive-driving classes. Other "tried and true" discounts apply to the unemployed, people with multiple policies, having alarm systems and remaining claim-free. — Alford

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