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Save €1,000 a year by shopping around for cover

AT a time when every cent matters households could do worse than check out what they are spending on various forms of insurance.

For some households, savings of €1,000 a year can be made by getting a better deal on motor, home, health and life insurance.

The various insurance costs each household pays out annually can amount to several thousand euro each year, according to Ciaran Phelan, chief executive of the Irish Brokers Association (IBA).

While he does not advocate that families leave themselves open to financial risk by dropping protection policies, Mr Phelan reckons most families can get a better deal.

"We estimate that a family paying approximately €5,300 on insurance premiums could save an estimated €1,300 in 2012 by taking the time to scour the market for the best deals or by engaging an expert to do so on their behalf," he said. Here are a few ways to save money on your insurance:

Motor insurance

Consumers are generally more active in reviewing the cost of this insurance and rightly so, according to Mr Phelan.

While the increase in premiums appears to have slowed, the typical family is still shelling out between €800 and €1,000 on two cars.

With differences of up to 40pc between the highest and lowest premiums, savings of up to €300 a year are easily attainable following a simple re-pricing of the market.

Home insurance

When it comes to home insurance there are big savings to be made on like-for-like comparisons.

And there are many consumers paying over the odds because they have incorrectly insured the value of the building, rather than insuring the rebuilding cost of their home.

Building costs are down by 20pc or more, Mr Phelan said.

"With property prices continuing to drop, we may end up in a situation where the cost of rebuilding a property is greater than the market price.

"We would urge consumers to ensure that the party you are dealing with will also be there to assist you should you have a claim," the IBA chief added.

Life insurance

Most consumers need mortgage protection and term assurance to replace their income in the event of their untimely death, according to Mr Phelan.

A 40-year-old couple spending €1,000 per annum can typically get €250,000 in cover.

With increasing longevity resulting in falling insurance prices over the last few years and the introduction of price pledges from some insurers, a saving of up to 30pc is quite achievable.

That should amount to at least €200 a year, Mr Phelan explained.

Permanent health insurance

This is a forgotten but hugely important policy if you are self-employed, Mr Phelan said. However, it can be an expensive item.

Cost and cover types vary considerable for those where this cover is not provided by the employer. There are a number of insurers competing heavily on both price and cover which bodes well for consumers, Mr Phelan, the IBA chief said.

Health insurance

There has been much talk about substantial hikes in 2011 and the even greater increases that may hit us in 2012.

As each insurer raises its prices at different times, savings of €300-plus for a family through comparing the various plans and seeking out special offers are quite achievable, Mr Phelan said. "You need to look at your other insurances to see if you can avail of discounts," he added.

Other policies

People often forget about the other insurances that they have which include travel insurance, serious illness, and payment protection insurance on a loan. Careful consideration is required to assess whether you need all of these and where savings can be made, Mr Phelan said.

"Managing your own insurance costs is difficult. Few have the time or the expertise to give it attention," he said. Households need to be careful that they are not:

-Overpaying on premiums when there is a cheaper alternative.

-Underinsured because they have overlooked core risks or not spotted certain policy exclusions that could have consequences in the event of a claim.

-Over-insured. Whether it's our car or our house, nearly everything is worth less these days than it used to be so it's important to adjust your insurance levels.

-Forget to cancel insurance on assets or risks that have been disposed of or are no longer relevant for various reasons.

Irish Independent Supplement