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Just a few simple measures and you can save a fortune on your house insurance bill

One bill that seems to spiral ever upwards is home insurance. Whether it's the bad winter, excess flooding or more robberies, there's no doubt your premium will be up this year. But there are things you can do to keep a lid on costs.

First of all, and most importantly, there's a good chance you're over-insured. During the boom, building costs were at a premium and cover had to reflect this. These days, builders are ten a penny and you should only cover yourself for what you need. The Society of Chartered Surveyors' excellent website (www.scsi.ie) outlines actual rebuilding costs, as does the RSA (www.rsagroup.ie) where you can find out how much YOUR home would cost to rebuild.

Do not let your insurer dictate the costs. Find out for yourself.

Contents insurance is a bugbear. We hate when insurance companies assume a 50pc rule -- we reckon you could replace everything from the plasma telly to the freezer for 30pc of the building cover, but a spot check is worth carrying out.

All risks insurance is arguably the most expensive of all. Get your precious items valued properly -- and then photograph them. This will make claiming a smoother process. It's hard to prove you owned something once it's gone. Over-insuring is a false economy -- you'll only get paid for what something is worth, not what you insured it for.


If you have expensive jewellery or paintings, insure them separately -- they may not be sufficiently covered in the "one item" limit on your policy.

For comparison, we looked at insuring a 1,300sqf three-bed semi in south Dublin for €260,000 with contents of €70,000. We've had no previous claims, and have a non-monitored alarm and two smoke alarms.

We declined "accidental damage" cover where asked, but it may be something you would like. This covers, say, your TV smashing, or a rip to your carpet.

You can see Zurich offers best value from our selection -- nearly 30pc less than the highest, FBD, although that company claims to offer additional benefits you may or may not consider worthwhile for the extra premium (jury service compensation of €650 for example, and life cover of €30,000).

For basic cover though, it's a big difference and money that you may well prefer to spend elsewhere. All companies, including FBD, offer discounts if you have other policies with them -- car or life insurance, for instance. It's worth telling them if you do. The important thing is not to be afraid of shopping around, especially if you're claim free.

All companies put a value on that, along with being an owner occupier and taking safety precautions with alarms and locks. Small measures go a long way.

How you can cut back on insurance costs:

•Get an alarm fitted, saving up to €60. There are extra discounts if it's a monitored one.

• Have smoke alarms fitted and working.

•If you're over 50 you'll get a discount; likewise, if the house is occupied during the day, tell the insurer -- it's cheaper.

•Pay upfront if you can -- credit charges to pay monthly are astronomical.

•If you're prepared to have an excess higher than the standard (€250), you'll pay less. We found a 15pc discount for a voluntary excess of €1,000, but you will end up paying for smaller claims yourself.

•Change your insurer regularly (or threaten to). Insurance companies rely on your apathy every year to renew your policy without question!

What you must tell your insurer

•If you're leaving home for any longer than a holiday. You may not be covered if the house is unoccupied.

•If you sub-let or rent a room out.

•If you are not the owner-occupier. It will cost more, and you may not be covered if you don't tell the truth.

•If you have a conviction (other than motoring offences).