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Discounts that can make a big difference for your auto and homeowners insurance

While everyone knows how important it is to have both auto and homeowners insurance, that doesn't mean you should be overpaying for it. The reality is there are plenty of ways to reduce how much your insurance costs without sacrificing coverage. Here are a few of them:

Car insurance discounts:

Good driver

The idea of insurance is to cover you in case of an accident, so it follows that those who rarely get in an accident don't cost insurance companies nearly as much as those who frequently find themselves in fender benders. If you have a clean driving record, it may be your ticket to less-expensive auto insurance. What is considered a "good driver" can vary from person to person, so talk to your provider to see if you qualify for a discount.

Safety features

When you're car shopping, pay special attention to the safety features you see. Of course, these are put in place to keep you and your passengers safe in the case of an accident, but they have the added bonus of helping reduce your insurance rates in many cases. Check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to see which cars are some of the safest on the road.

Multi-vehicle

Do you and your spouse each own a car? If you do and you're not on the same plan, you could be paying much more than you need to. Many insurance companies offer discounts to customers who cover more than one vehicle, so find out if your insurer is one of them.

Defensive driver

Aside from just having a clean driving record, many companies also reward customers who put in a little extra effort to become better drivers. If you sign up for a defensive driving class at your local DMV, you'll score some points with your auto insurer. Let the company know you've successfully completed a defensive driving course, and you may be in for a discount on your insurance rates. While you may not see a huge difference in your premiums, the skills you pick up have the potential to keep you, your passengers and other drivers safe on the road.

Low mileage

If you don't drive your car very frequently, your overall odds of getting in a wreck are lower. So if you start to leave the car in the garage more frequently and opt for taking public transportation or your own two feet, alert your insurance company. You may be in store for a discount on your insurance rates.

Homeowners insurance discounts:

Security system

Your insurance company will be less likely to have to pay out for your home in the case of a break-in if it's harder for criminals to rob your home in the first place. For that reason, installing or upgrading a home security system is a great way to score a discount on your homeowners insurance rates.

Don't smoke

While you expect that your smoking habit has an effect on your health or life insurance, did you know that it can also cause higher rates when it comes to homeowners insurance? According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoking causes nearly 15 percent of all house fires, so kicking the habit means this risk drops. That also means your insurance company may give you a break on your insurance rates, so consider quitting to protect your finances as well as your health.

Upgrade electrical system

Just like smoking, electrical malfunctions are a major culprit for house fires. The U.S. Fire Administration found that more than 12 percent of all fires are caused by an electrical malfunction, so bring in a home inspector to check whether your wiring needs to be fixed or replaced. Having new wiring installed by a professional will help lower your risk of a fire as well as your insurance rates.

Prepare for disasters

Do you live on a coast where there is regular risk of hurricanes? What about in the Midwest where tornadoes tend to frequent? Whatever the specific disaster that threatens your area, make sure your home is prepared for it. Storm shutters or a reinforced roof help protect you and your family during a disaster, and shielding your house will also help reduce homeowners insurance rates.

Home location

It's hard to do much about this once you've moved in, but if you're house hunting, it's worth keeping your insurance rates in mind. For obvious reasons, a home in a neighborhood with a high crime rate will cost more to insure than one in a safer area. Similarly, gated communities or those with a homeowners association tend to be on the safer side, so keep an eye out for them when you're picking out your home.

Finally, there are a couple steps you can take to keep both your auto and homeowners insurance rates low:

Shop around

You wouldn't buy a car without making sure you're getting the best price, right? The same applies to your insurance rates. Look into multiple insurers to not only make sure you're getting a fair rate, but that it covers as much as you'll need. There are plenty of resources around to help you pick the right insurer for you, including your state insurance department or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Consider using a company like SelectQuote Auto & Home, which can provide quotes from 14 carriers in minutes.

Bundle to save

If you own a car, a house, a boat and a motorcycle, you may be able to significantly reduce what you're paying each month or year by bundling them into one insurance plan. Talk to your insurer to find out if this applies to you, and make sure you check their math to be sure that combining plans is actually cheaper.

Just ask

If you've been on the same insurance policy for years, you've probably gotten used to how much insurance costs. But the reality is that a lot can change over time, and this can have a major effect on how much you pay. If the crime rate has gone down in your neighborhood or your property value has increased, you may see a shift in your rates.

Always check to make sure your insurance policy covers what you need it to, and don't pay more than you have to. An insurance service like SelectQuote Auto & Home will give you the tools you need to be confident that you're paying the right price for the right coverage.