How to keep your head above water— and your insurance rates under control

Staying-afloatAs flood water rises so do insurance rates. That’s why coastal states have been hit hardest with increased premiums (in recent years, Florida rates jumped more than 90%). Even if you don’t border the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean, odds are you’re paying more now than when you first signed on.

According to the Associated Press, the cost of homeowners insurance across the country rose 36% from 2003 to 2010 due to many factors, from the economy to natural disasters. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to ensure your insurance bills don’t become a disaster.

Often you can keep your rates low if you raise your deductible. Another option is to find a company that offers discounts for package deals on insurance for both your home and your car. Of course, the most efficient way to make sure you’re getting the best rate is to shop around.

Many companies offer low fees for the first year but insurance rates rise over time so it’s best to annually check out competitors’ prices with the help of reputable independent agents. Because their priority is you, the customer (not the insurance company), professional agents are motivated to secure a competitive rate from a quality company so you can pay less—and sleep well!