Make the most of your insurance discounts

Insurance companies may advertise attractive discounts but they don't always apply them to your bill. Hamm explains how to know if you have received insurance discounts and how to make them count.

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    A car drives past an Allstate Insurance Co. office in this April 2011 file photo, in Lyndhurst, Ohio. Insurance discounts can save you money, but sometimes you have to demonstrate that you're eligible for them, Hamm writes.
    Tony Dejak/AP/File
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We’ve all seen the insurance advertisements where they laud all of the discounts you can get if you’re a safe driver over a certain period or your children have good grades or other such things.

Those discounts can save you significant money, but there’s a catch.

The catch is that the insurance company may or may not tell you when you’ve received a discount. Some companies will let you know and start applying them to the bill, while others won’t add them until they’re requested. This costs you money.

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So, what can you do?

The first step is to occasionally study your insurance policy. Use the policy itself as well as any summary documentation to find out which rate reductions you should be eligible for.

Interestingly enough, I’ve found the most success by starting with the insurance company’s website. Often, they describe all of the discounts you can get right up front as a way of attracting new customers.

Once you’ve found all the discounts, check your most recent bill to see which ones you’re already receiving. As I’ve mentioned before, some companies actually do apply them as soon as you’re eligible, while others won’t apply them until they’re requested.

If you think you should be receiving a discount that you’re not seeing on the bill, call your insurance provider.

Know the facts of the situation first, of course. What specific discount are you talking about? Why are you eligible for it? Are you sure you’re not already receiving the discount? Know these questions before you call.

Most of the time, customer service representatives will add the discount to your bill as soon as you call them on it and can demonstrate that you’re eligible for the discount.

Do it right now. It’s worth a minute or two to make sure that you’re not missing out on any insurance discounts you should be receiving. Finding one or two puts money right in your pocket.

This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.

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